Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Jerez de la Frontera - home to sherry, dancing horses, motor sports and palaces

Famous for its sherry, motor sports and palaces, Jerez de la Frontera is another convenient base for exploring the South Western corner of Andalusia. 

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The city of Jerez de la Frontera is located roughly a half an hour train ride from Cadiz (one-way ticket about 6 euros). It is larger than Cadiz and even boasts an airport, so it's another good alternative for a base when getting to know this part of Andalusia. But what it wins in practicality, it does lose in charm. Cadiz is still by far my favourite. 

(Having said that, I myself was feeling less than charming that day, owing to a dreadful bout of stomach bug mixed with a generous portion of migraine. Oh, the glamorous life of a travel blogger...)

With population of 212 000, Jerez is the 5th largest city in Andalusia. One of its key attractions is the Royal Equestrian School and their dancing horses I took you to see in the previous blog post.

The two things Jerez is truly famous for everywhere in the world, however, are sherry and motor sports. In 2013 Jerez was  elected the European Wine Capital and the following year it was named the first ever motor cycle capital of the world. 

At the turn of April and May the city hosts MotoGP. That's when thousands and thousands of leather clad bearded men descend here in such volumes it becomes impossible to get a hotel room anywhere in the region (trust me, I know. Now. )

Jerez is the birthplace of sherry and the noble tipple actually takes its name after the city.

One thing you should definitey make room for in your Jerez itinerary is a visit to one of its many sherry bodegas. One I'd recommend is Real Tesoro with their Valdespino sherries. 

I'll take you on a tour of its musty and magnificent cellars later on, but for now you'll find more information on the visiting hours over here.

Sherry has quite a presence outside the bodegas, too, for instance in the form of tabancos, traditional sherry bars so typical for the region. Only until a couple of decades ago they were strictly off limites for women.

In case you'd rather get drunk on history, you should head over to Jerez Alcázar fortress, tour of which can be found on the blog over here. 

The resemblance to Alcazar Palace in Seville is astonishing, as is the resemblance of the nearby San Salvador's Cathedral to its Seville equivalent in all its Gothic - Baroque-Neoclassical glory (yes, this piece of trivia was brought to you in association with Wikipedia).

The cathedral is the heart and soul of Jerez Diocese, the head of which doesn't have it too bad either. His residence Palacio Bertemati, a townhouse in a very typically Andalusian way built around an open courtyard, is rather impressive piece of real estate on its own rights.

Jerez is also known as the city of palaces. 

Its old town is estimated to house at least a hundred abandoned palaces. Occasionally they pop up in the real estate market, too, so in case you've got, say, 3,5 million euros to spare, you could get yourself a seriously nice souvenir over here. 

Some of the palaces are still inhabited by the very noble family the palaces were initially gifted to by the King. Many are open for public  - for more information just click here.

One of these is Palacio del Virrey Laserna. Originally built during the era of Arab conquerors, it has gone through serious of makeovers but still has some of the original features, displayed side by side with all the one of a kind antiques the family has amassed over the course of its history. The palace has stayed in the same family for centuries. The title of the count, though, was passed on to the oldest son, so my host, the younger brother, has to make do with that of a Marquis (poor sod).

I do seem to have completely forgotten to ask if he's still in the market for a Marquess, though. I mean, I could totally see myself hosting my famous Sunday lunches in these surroundings...!

And I can't see my canine-loving guests having anything to complain about either: family's dogs have their very own 18th century thrones to lounge in...

How about you guys? Familiar with Jerez? What were the highlights of your trip?

* The trip was organized in collaboration with Cadiz Tourism *



Andalusian kuninkaallinen hevoskoulu Jerez_Andalusian Royal Equestrian School Jerez_10      Tukholman Suuri Synagoga_Stockholm Great Synagogue9


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