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Who has not heard of the delicious sherry? Or flamenco? Or Cartujano horses, like Tornado, Zorro’s black horse? You can find all these, plus an astonishing historical city centre, at Jerez de la Frontera. It is a city located between hills, next to the ocean, very close to Cádiz and many white towns that you can never miss when visiting Andalusia.
I will do my best to summarize everything into one story. Still, it will not be easy since this city has millennial wines, more than twenty palaces, forty religious buildings, and fourteen museums. It even has a farm of crocodiles! Welcome to the gorgeous Jerez de la Frontera: home of sherry, flamenco & Cartujano horses.
The origin of its name is a bit controversial. Under the Moorish, it was the mighty “sherish”, a word derived from “seria”, the recipient where you keep the wine. But it could be much more ancient, maybe thousands of years old. Only 8 km away from Jerez de la Frontera, you can also visit Mesas de Asta, which could potentially have been the capital of the lost kingdom of Tartessos, our own version of Atlantis. One day we may actually know for sure!
Anyway, back to Jerez, it is called “de la Frontera” (from the border) because it used to be at the border between the Christian’ and Moorish kingdoms, like Conil de la Frontera. The name was kept to distinguish it from Jerez de los Caballeros. The Moorish built a colossal defensive system here, and you can still visit it today - the Alcázar. It is a romantic castle where you can admire the view of Jerez de la Frontera and walk along gardens under the shade of orange and olive trees, pass under horseshoe arches, listen to the sound of the water fountains and smell the orange blossoms. And when you are ready to leave this paradisiac place, prepare yourself for a true marathon of palaces and churches.
If you do not have much time, visit at least the San Salvador Cathedral. The daunting interior and the forest of columns outside will surprise you. Religious buildings are very important at Jerez de la Frontera, and if you happen to be nearby during Easter, do not miss it here! If you have never seen it in Andalusia, you are in for a whole new experience.
The biggest treasure of Jerez de la Frontera is its wine! It was brought by the Phoenician three thousand years ago. It got so good that the Romans exported it and became famous. When the Moorish came, they kept the wines, even though it was forbidden to drink alcohol. Almanzor, a powerful leader, tried to pull them, but the locals convinced him not to by swearing that eating raisins would give a lot of energy to his army!
Sherry was already exported to England in the 12th century, hence its name, sherry, from the Arabian “sherish”, the name of the city at the time. It got so popular that they tried to get larger quantities through piracy, but in the 17th century, they gave up and ended up moving to Jerez de la Frontera and funding some wineries that still exist.
You have two choices to taste sherry and the other wines produced at Jerez de la Frontera. You can either visit any of the dozens of wineries surrounding the city, enjoy the many activities they offer (equestrian spectacles, flamenco shows…), or do the “tabanco route”. A tabanco is a typical place from Jerez de la Frontera, halfway between a tavern and a place to sell huge amounts of wine. They have been modernised, and you cannot leave town without going into one (or several) of them!
You are in Andalusia, and you have reached the birthplace of the flamenco: Jerez de la Frontera. Some of the greatest flamenco artists of the past century were born here, so obviously, you have to attend one of these shows in the San Miguel or Santiago neighbourhoods. Flamenco at Jerez de la Frontera has been declared as World Immaterial Heritage by UNESCO.
Jerez de la Frontera is the birthplace of the most beautiful Spanish horse: the Cartujano. Since the 15th century, this has been a very prestigious horse, suitable for kings and queens, a beautiful animal with long manes and a born elegance when walking. Never leave Jerez de la Frontera without witnessing their show “Andalusian horses dancing”. Without ropes, you will see them leaping powerfully or gracefully dancing to folkloric songs. A must!
However, Jerez de la Frontera is much more than all this. If you want to grasp its essence, you have no choice but to visit it and discover the gorgeous Jerez de la Frontera: home of sherry, flamenco & Cartujano horses!
Are you ready to experience this story yourself?