Coming to the last city we visited over this weekend: Jerez de la Frontera. In my opinion, the most beautiful from the three we visited (being the other two Tarifa and Cadiz), and a pity not to have had more time to enjoy it even further, with the visit to some of the wineries. Good weather, great cafes and terraces, nice bars; it all crawls for a great glass of sweet wine, the sherry wine this region is so famous for. In any case, this means a returning to the city is a must then.
A few and key facts to understand the past importance and monumentality. Jerez was the very first Spanish city to have street lighting. The first savings bank in Spain (Caja de Ahorros de Jerez). It is the world’s capital of sherry wine; a small walk along the city and you will see how many wineries you find in the way. And culture and tradition-wise talking, it is the center of horsemanship and flamenco dancing in Spain. Home of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, school comparable to the world famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
In any case and with such rich history you might think the city must be splendid everywhere, but unfortunately it is not, in the sense of the large amount of abandoned buildings, many of which are now slowly been taken and refurbished. Some of them really shocking to see falling apart. Not worrying too much, this situation will change in few years’ time.
You will appreciate walking along any streets. Not just only the nice architecture and squares, but the huge amount of orange trees everywhere, bringing the colourful touch at every turn. Also the amount of bars and restaurants make the central streets really thriving and lively. The blend of architecture is such that in places as the Alcazar you could easily feel that you are in Morocco and not in Spain. The Alcazar is very well preserved, while elsewhere in the city some portions of the Moorish walls and the only surviving gate, together with the newer Moorish revival constructions are a reminder of the many centuries of the occupation.
While in Jerez, don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of the wineries. Most of them provide guided tours. The one I will always recommend is perhaps one of the most important and world renown, Gonzalez Byass, famous for its Tio Pepe sherry wine. It is located side by side with the cathedral and Alcazar.
For more information about Jerez check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Spain’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Jerez
- Moorish Fortress The Alcazar, built in the 10th century comprises a mosque, Arab baths, gardens, cloisters and palaces. While inside you might feel you are somewhere in Morocco rather than Spain.
-Hall of the Ambassadors Resembling in decoration that of Granada’s Alhambra.
-Patio de las Muñeca Is a courtyard believed to have been the harem.
-Camera Obscura Locate in one of the towers.
-Octagonal Tower From where you can see the entire Alcazar and city below.
- Old City Walls Not much of them remain around the city.
-Puerta Rota Is the only surviving Moorish gate.
- Cathedral Built in the 17th century where the main mosque used to be.
- Saint Matthew Church The oldest Gothic church in the city.
- Old Town Hall Dating from 1575.
- El Carmen Basilica Located on a higher area within the old city.
- Palaces Due to the rich history of the city where many wealthy families lived, the city is dotted with many palatial constructions all around. Among the most important are:
-Bertemati Built in 1758 it houses the Episcopal Diocese of Jerez.
-Perez Luna Built in the 18th century in Baroque style.
-Duque de Abrantes Built in the 19th century is the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.
-Pemartin Built in the 15th century now housing the Andalusian Flamenco Center.
- Villamarta Theatre Built in 1926 is the main theater in the city.
- Wineries Such as Tio pepe, Gonzalez Byass, Lustau, Romate or Harveys to name a few.
- The Charterhouse of Jerez Known in Spanish as the Cartuja is the most impressive monastery near the city dating from the 15th century and fully completed in the 17th. The Renaissance entry is one of the masterpieces. Located on the outskirts of the city.
On the same way I explained on the post for Cadiz, reaching Jerez from anywhere in Spain is convenient by train or bus, but beware distances can be long hence expect long hours specially by bus. By train is another story since high speed trains reach down to Seville where then they follow at slower speed towards the end of the line Cadiz, being Jerez the previous stop.
By plane you have few options. Jerez airport offers very few flights, if any depending on the time of the year. Farther is Gibraltar, and almost at the same distance the larger Seville. All those airports are well connected to the city by bus, but the timetable for those from Gibraltar/La Linea de la Concepcion are not very helpful depending on your flight time; for which having a rental car is the best option to move to/from the airport, plus allowing you to visit other places along the way as we did where we landed in Gibraltar and visited Tarifa, Cadiz and Jerez, all in one weekend!
Since the city center is a maze if very narrow and labyrinthine streets, do not expect public buses or even cars running along most of the city. The good point is that you can walk literally everywhere along the historical city as distances are short, but be prepared to go up and down as there are many hills.
The city has a great choice of hotels of any kind, many of which truly exclusive and luxurious in traditional Andalusian haciendas. Getting a good deal, especially during the low season is the best. Great prices for fantastic hotels. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
Our hotel in Jerez was the Itaca. Right in the city center, few minutes away from the Alcazar and Cathedral. The location could not be better not to mention the hotel itself. A 4* property with great level of comfort, design and facilities, great stuff and nice included breakfast. Unbelievably, it was one of the cheapest hotels on offer for this weekend, and I really mean it as the next available with the same characteristics was almost twice as much. It is not only that I will not hesitate in staying here again if I return, but I have already provided with the business card to my family and friends.