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Get to know the art and culture of Andalucia, Spain

— May 2014

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Flamenco dancing in Andalucia - part of the Art & Culture experience

Art & Culture Andalucia

Three years ago Dr Jacqueline Cockburn bought a beautiful house in the artistic community of Gaucin, a spectacular ‘pueblo blanco’ in the mountains of Andalucia. Gaucin is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful ‘white villages’ in the whole of the region, with views reaching as far as the Rif mountains in Morocco.  Her aim was to offer residential courses exploring the art and culture of this most vibrant and historically fascinating region of Spain. 

Jacqueline is an inspirational teacher and lecturer and a specialist in the art, literature and culture of Spain, with a long-standing passion for Andalucia in particular. After 15 years as head of the art history department at Westminster School, and more recently, as chief examiner in art history for Cambridge International Examinations, Jacqueline had decided she was ready for a new challenge.

The project finally came to fruition in April this year, when she and her husband Ian ran the first course. The feedback from the ten inaugural customers was unanimously very positive. They said the formula was spot-on – a mixture of well-researched lectures and guided visits to selected sites of interest, combined with other activities such as tastings and tapas at a couple of very exclusive bodegas. In addition, the week includes live flamenco guitar on the terrace, visits to local artists’ studios, photography and painting classes, walks in the stunning scenery around Gaucin, and the most delicious local food prepared by highly-qualified chefs, accompanied by adequate supplies of excellent wine.

What helps make these courses exceptional is that they are for small groups - a maximum of ten people – and are based in a luxurious private villa and its glorious mountain garden, rather than large groups travelling from hotel to hotel.They also give participants access to a combination of locations and experiences that most visitors to Andalucia will never discover. While the contents of the six-day course are based on serious academic research, the style is relaxed, enjoyable and interactive, and brings the culture of Andalucia to life.

Andalucia’s culture is based on a unique fusion of eastern and western influences, the nearly 800 years of Moorish occupation making it the only example of a Western country living under Islamic rule. The tenth century Caliphal Court at Cordoba was widely recognized at the time as the most advanced and sophisticated cultural centre in western Europe and is associated with a period known as the ‘convivencia’, when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived side by side in relative harmony.

Participants get under the skin of Andalucia’s culture, by exploring its art, architecture, history, music, food, literature and public spectacle and their roots in the mediaeval civilization of Moorish Spain.

For more information, visit Jacqueline’s website at

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Learn more about how Jaqueline and her husband started their business here

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