SPAIN: Burgos


KEI organizes cultural activities in Burgos and day trips to the Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas and Bilbao or San Sebastian. During the semester, KEI also plans extended excursions to Madrid and Toledo.

Transportation, lodging and admission for planned activities and field trips are included in the program fee (note that meals are not included). KEI reserves the right to change planned excursions for destinations of equal value and interest. Excursions may change based on availability, local festivals and interest. Academic year and multiple-term students participate in planned excursions during their first term of study.


Burgos is known for its medieval Castilian ambience. The Old Quarter boasts several Renaissance churches and buildings. The Burgos Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Europe. However, Burgos pre-dates written history. With the recent paleontological discoveries in Sierra de Atapuerco, about 20 miles from the city, the province of Burgos is home of the earliest humans in Europe.

Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas

The Monastery of Las Huelgas is one of the most famous convents in Spanish history. It was built in the 12th century by King Alfonso VIII of Castile and his wife, Eleonor Plantagenet (the daughter of King Henry II of England and the sister of King Richard the Lion-Hearted) as a refuge for the widowed nobility of Europe, a boarding school for the daughters of nobility and a royal pantheon where the members of their family were to be buried. The monastery was the site of many Royal weddings, including that of Edward I of England to Eleanor of Castile. At its peak, the monastery was very powerful with jurisdiction numerous towns, convents and churches, and the right to mint its own coinage. Today it is home to a community of 44 cloistered nuns, who live a far simpler life than their historic predecessors.

Bilbao or San Sebastian

Bilbao, fouded in the 14th century, is the capital of the Biscay province in Northern Spain near the border with France. Bilboa is famous for its Guggenheim, Fine Arts and Basque Museums.

San Sebastian traces its history to 1180, when Sancho the Strong founded the city in what is now the Old Quarter. The city’s unique geographic setting made it a perfect port and military stronghold. Today it is a popular resort city with one of the best city beaches in Europe and renowned for its cuisine.

Madrid & Toledo

These excursions are organized during the semester only. It is not offered during the summer.

Madrid, Spain’s beautiful capital city has a well-developed metro system, many green areas and tree-lined streets. Throughout the city there are many plazas; the most famous is Plaza Mayor. These plazas are meeting places for friends and family to gather, and they also serve to provide landmarks for essential navigation. Madrid has many things to do and see including a fantastic Royal Palace, a museum on the Americas, the world-famous Prado Museum, and an Egyptian temple.

Toledo is one of the most important centers of European medieval history and culture. The Roman author Titus Liviu described the city as a “small fortified town.” Fortification has always been an important part of its history, and monumental walls still encircle the city today. The city is also famous for the “Swords of Toledo,” giving its steel production world-wide fame. It was the capital of Spain from Gothic times until 1560, which explains its impressive medieval architecture. The city’s history was dominated by the Romans, the Muslims, the Jews, and finally the Christians. These different periods of domination can be seen in the various architectural wonders. When walking though Toledo, you can really feel its history and appreciate its culture.

Thanks for allowing me to utilize your program! It has opened my horizons as a scholar and broadened my perspective as an African-American. I’ll remember the experiences, people and most importantly the knowledge that I acquired while studying in Burgos. I couldn’t thank you enough for granting me the KEI Travel Grant. KEI has really been a life altering experience and I’m happy that you allowed me into your wonderful program. I would like to keep in touch for advice and possibly to talk about future endeavors.

Brian Wilkins
Brian WilkinsFlorida A&M University

The New York staff were very prompt in answering questions, willing to help (even silly questions!) and understanding. The school was international and I learned so much about the world and different cultures.

Nicole Selsov
Nicole SelsovUniversity of Massachusetts