Jerez de la Frontera
Distance from the capital (km): 37
Altitude above sea level (m): 56
Area (Km2): 1188.23
Nº of inhabitants: 211900
Name for people: Jerezanos
Postal code: 11470
There are few places in Spain which can lay claim to international recognition enjoyed by Jerez. Thanks to its wine, “jerez” or “sherry”, the equestrian tradition, the bulls, flamenco and motor-racing, this Andalusian town’s name has been known far and wide for many years.
The Phoenicians arrived in the surrounding area some 3,000 years ago to establish a colony called Xera, which became known as Ceret under the rule of the Romans, and Sheres or Xeres when it became an Arabic fortress. Under the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, the prosperous trading of its famous wines with the English began. The Muslims left a deep mark on the town, including the layout of the quarters situated at the heart of the old Arabic city town centre: San Lucas and San Mateo, where the church of the same name is to be found, the Market Square (housing the Archaeological Museum) and the Riquelme Palace.
But without a doubt, the most important Al-Andalus feature is the Alcázar de Jerez, which is situated within the walled enclosure of the Mosque, the Arab Baths and the Olive Garden, with its cisterns and fountains which are in perfect
harmony with the Baroque palace of Villavicencio, built upon the ruins of the original Islamic palace, with a tower where the visitor can find the original Camera Obscura.
The town has many interesting examples of Gothic architecture. In the Santiago quarter, home of bulería music, there is the Church of Santiago, dating from the 15th century, which holds the image of Our Father Jesús del Prendimiento, attributed to La Roldana. The Convent-Church of Santo Domingo and San Marcos’ Church are also good examples of this style. They each house some of the images which are carried through the streets during Easter Week (Jerez’s main festival, along with the Horse Fair).
Very nearby is the Cathedral, a beautiful, highly monumental work of Baroque architecture. Inside, the choir stalls, the Virgen Niña de Zurbarán, an Inmaculada by Vaccaro, a crucifix by Juan de Arce and the Cristo de la Viga, (Gothic, 14th century) are all worth a visit. The adjacent tower is built on the site of the Arab minaret.
From the 16th and 17th centuries, the town experienced an enormous economic boom which attracted Genovese, English, Flemish, French, etc, who added impulse to the town’s trade and in particular to the wine sector. This was to mark both the physical appearance of the town (when a multitude of wineries and manor houses were built) and the character of its people (open, welcoming and gentlemanly).
But if we really want to get to know Jerez and its people, there is nothing better than a long walk along the Calle Larga, the nerve – and shopping – centre of the town. This is where the town’s heart beats strongest, -where the best shops are to be found alongside the pavement cafés where you can enjoy a drink and some of the delicious Jerez tapas. Then we can head for the Plaza del Arenal, Jerez’s most emblematic square, the Mamelón, and the little Placita del Banco, which are all buzzing with activity, then to either Plateros or Rafael Rivero Square, which are friendly places with plenty of pavement
cafés offering the town’s tasty cuisine.
There are various options for your freetime: the High-Speed Circuit which hosts the annual Spanish Motorcycle Grand Prix, one of the top races in the World Championship.
There is also the Zoo, which houses the Botanic Garden as well.
This church is one of the best examples of Jerez Mudejar architecture. It is situated in one of the most enchanting little squares in Jerez, Asunción Square, where the Municipal Council Office is also to be found, a splendid Renaissance building.
A quarter with a gypsy air, and birthplace of singer Lola Flores, this is one of the most stately districts in Jerez, whilst also being one of the most popular. The manor houses, such as the Villapanés Palace, provide the Quarter with its special flavour. At the heart of the district, there stands the church of the same name, which was built in the Gothic style, starting in the 15th century, although the façade is a good example of Baroque architecture. The main altarpiece, the work of Martínez Montañés and Juan de Arce, is worth visiting.
Cartuja de Santa María de la Defensión
Declared Property of Cultural Interest, this monastery is considered to be the most important religious monument in the province.
Flamboyant Gothic, Plateresque Renaissance and Baroque styles go hand in hand in harmony in this structure built at the orders of Álvaro Obertos de Valeto in the second half of the 15th century, and demonstrating great beauty and charm in features such as the Entrance Portico, the Chapel of Santa María de la Defensión, the Patio de los Arrayanes, the Chapel to Los Caminantes, the layman's cloister, or the so-called Jasmine Patio. But apart from its artistic value, La Cartuja has entered the history books as the birthplace of the Cartujan horse, as this breed descends from the famous mares which the monks bred on the Alto Cielo estate.
Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art
Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art puts on a uniquely beautiful show called "How the Andalusian Horses Dance", an equestrian ballet the choreography of which is based on a perfectly balanced mix of Classical and Country Dressage movements. Music, horses and riders entertain the spectator with the most harmonious and colourful creation ever imagined. A monument has been raised to the horse in the Plaza del Caballo in recognition of what this noble animal has brought, and still brings, to this town.
Nineteenth-century palace by the architect Garnier who designed the Paris Opera. Inspired by Renaissance forms and discreetly Baroque, it is set amid magnificent gardens.
The show "How Andalusian horses dance" is an equestrian ballet set to typically Spanish music and performed in 18th-century costumes. The choreographies are taken from reprises used in classical and country dressage, and from other works of traditional horsemanship.
There are between six and eight choreographies in each show, all with the same standard and showmanship. The School's programme is arranged with the following repertoire: Country dressage, Classical dressage, the Carriages, In-hand work and the Parade.
In addition to the show, you can also visit the facilities and the training sessions.
Yeguada de la Cartuja - Hierro del Bocado
From its foundation towards the end of the XV century, the Monastery of La Cartuja has been converted into the cornerstone of the Jerezano thoroughbred horses. For three centuries, which coincided with the centuries of greatest splendour of the kingdom of Spain, the Carthusian monks established a breeding stock which, through time, would be converted into one of the most celebrated and appreciated stocks in the world.
The exemplary livestock management, carried out in the surrounds of the splendid Renaissance building, situated in an exceptional geographical location in terms of climate and fertility, where the universally renowned Jerez wines are also grown, was interrupted at the beginning of the XIX century as a result of the War of Independence and coincided with the years of splendour in Spain and, as a consequence, of its horses.
Open on Saturday morning at 11.00 h. March to December. Reservations are recommended.
Interesting web pages with more information on this place:http://www.jerez.es/
Official Web of the city council of Jerez http://www.turismojerez.com/
Web of Tourist Information about Jerez