Jerez de la Frontera must be one of the most undiscovered tourist attractions in Andalucia. This may be due to its position, almost midway between the famous cities of Cádiz and Seville, or just an accident. It may be that its charms are difficult to find because signposting of its hotels and attractions within the city is, to be kind, weak. None of that matters because the local populace is not only very friendly the majority also speak excellent English due to the influx of English partners and staff into the booming sherry industry over the last two hundred years.
Things to discover
A tour of a bodega is almost mandatory in Jerez but for those prepared to look, there is lots more to see.
The Alcazar dates to the 12th century with some more modern additions. The homage tower was built in the 15th century and the oil mill in the 18th. The most attractive part of the Alcazar has to be the gardens, laid out in typical symmetrical Arabic style, with an enormous sculpture of three horses and several small fountains.
The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation is based at Jerez. Their famously choreographed performance, ‘How the Andalucian Horses Dance’ is famous throughout Spain. Visitors can see a show and tour the school that includes the training sessions, the stables, the Palace rooms, the Museum of Equestrian Arts and the Carriage Museum.
In nearby Calle Cervantes, if you have time, visit the Clock Palace. On the hour, every hour, all the 302 clocks variously ring, chime, ding and dong.
On the quarter hour, only the English clocks chime, deep Westminster chimes predominate, and on the half hour, it is the turn of the French clocks, lighter tinkles and trings in the background.
The population of Jerez enjoy their food and sitting out of an evening. There are any number of cafes and bars, most of which serve tapas. You will find many local dishes such as kidneys cooked in sherry, lamb cutlets in oregano and sherry and fish in a tomato and brandy sauce; you would be excused for thinking that water is a rare commodity in Jerez cuisine.
In early May thousands of motorcyclists from all over the world congregate at Jerez for the MotoGP Grand Prix motorcycle racing event that is held at the Circuito de Jerez. This is one of the most watched races in Europe.
Just after the MotoGP, usually towards the end of May, is the Feria del Caballo, sometimes called the Feria de Jerez, one of the most important fairs in Cadiz province.
During the last week of Lent, Jerez, as with many Andalucian towns, commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ. The Catholic brotherhoods perform penance processions through the streets.
The Festival de Jerez is a two-week extravaganza of all things flamenco, dancing, live music, eating and drinking. The festival starts in late February and lasts two weeks.
Together with the national holidays and saints days, there is hardly a week in the year that Jerez de la Frontera is not celebrating something.
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