JOURNEY through our stunningly glorious countryside and have the experience of a lifetime visiting many of the magnificent cities full of history like JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, the absolute essence of ANDALUSIAN
JEREZ has been influenced by Tyrians, Tartessians, Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs, the latter who named the town "Sherish" which gave rise to the English word Sherry. The Province of CADIZ was Muslim territory until Alfonso X, The Wise, re-conquered it in the second half of the 13th century and incorporated it into the Kingdom of CASTILE.
The cathedral and many churches are built on the sites of Arab mosques and are of great architectural interest. There are also palaces, mansions, monasteries, squares and museums, all excellent examples of Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical and Moorish architecture. The MUSEO DE LOS RELOJES (CLOCK MUSEUM), is housed in the Atalya Palace, which is set in colourful, well kept gardens. 302 beautiful timepieces from Europe dating back as far as the 1600's are kept in perfect running and chiming order, so a visit at 12 noon on the dot is a recommended experience.
JEREZ is one of the most important horse capitals and a highly respected producer of wine, and also considered to be the birthplace of FLAMENCO, and has, over the years, been prolific in producing some of the finest dancers, guitarists and singers.
A must-see is flamenco with the city boasting an annual festival in November and being credited as one of Spain’s key centres for the musical genre. The club –Pena Flamenco Los Cernicalos- sits on a quiet back-street with only a small plaque on the door distinguishing it from the houses on every side. It is a cross between a nightclub and a town hall with a few hundred chairs surrounded by photos of flamenco’s heroes from times gone by. This is serious stuff and not to be confused with the flamenco shows on cruise ships. Jerez became a hub of flamenco partly because of its status as a haven for gypsy communities evicted from elsewhere and the songs reflect the pain woven through their stories.
Of course JEREZ'S greatest claim to fame is SHERRY, a wine unique to the region due to the local geography and climate. Sherry producers like Rey Fernando de Castilla and Equipo Navazos make sherries in the way they did when sherry became famous in the first place. There are some real treasures hidden away in the sherry bodegas just waiting to be unlocked. This marvellous drink is made from a single grape variety, Palomino along with Pedro Ximenez and Moscastel, which are used to make sweeter wines. Time, nature and a bit of expert attention morph the wines from these three varieties into over a dozen different styles of sherry, ranging from bone dry to super-sweet, pale green to almost black and everything in between.
Tio Pepe is the town’s most famous producer, along with the famous bull of Osbourne, from the nearby town of El Puerto de Santa Maria. At it’s peak there were around 10,000 bodegas in the city with hundreds of English merchants setting up alongside the Spanish. Many of the famous Bodegas can be visited during the day and you are welcome to sample the excellent quality and unique taste of each one. Brandy, originally introduced by the Arabs, is also distilled in the area and is evident in much of the cuisine.
The land around JEREZ is grazed by the famous "TORO BRAVO", and these magnificent animals are bred on specialised cattle farms and appear at the renowned Spanish bullfights. Horsemanship and horse breeding are a great tradition in JEREZ and in particular the CARTUJAN, a horse particular to ANDALUCIA bred by the the Carthusian monks in the 18th century and originally a war horse, it is a breed highly regarded throughout the world. Historically used as a gift to European kings now used for activities ranging from dressage to polo.
The ability and beauty of these animals can be seen at the FERIA DE CABALLO in May and then again in the Autumn, and also at the REAL ESCUELA ANDALUZA DEL ARTE ECUESTRE. Here the "SINFORNA CABALLO" can be a breathtaking equestrian ballet where horses and riders, in immaculately choreographed harmony delight the audience with their powerful grace.
JEREZ is also home and famous for its racing circuit where it plays host to international events including the World Motorcycle Championship and the Formula One Grand Prix.
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