The cradle of Jerez wines and brandies covers more than 7,000 hectares of vineyards, an area with more than 300 days of sunshine a year. It’s one of the oldest wine regions in the world with more than 3000 years of history; Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs. Acclaimed for its famous sherries and brandies (soleras), Jerez is also the home of The Carthusian horse, the Spanish fighting bull, and the Toro Bravo, which is considered the cradle of flamenco. Often overlooked in Spain’s southwest province of Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, sits atop the so-called Sherry Triangle some 90 km south of Sevilla and about 20 minutes north of the Bay of Cádiz at El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Although it’s easily reached by car or train as a day trip from Seville, there is more than enough to keep one busy over several days if your interests are food and wine, horses, or flamenco. There are weekly performances put on by the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Jerez’s important Flamenco Festival, now in its 24th year, is held in late February/early March, but flamenco can be enjoyed in several of the sherry bars and restaurants in Jerez’s Santiago and San Miguel barrios throughout the year.
The town has many interesting examples of Gothic architecture. The 15th-century Church of Santiago, which houses the image of Our Father Jes del Prendimiento, attributed to La Roldana, is located in the Santiago quarter, the birthplace of bulera music. This style is also evident in the Santo Domingo Convent-Church and the San Marcos' Church. Each one contains a selection of images carried through the streets during Easter Week (Jerez's main festival, along with the Horse Fair).
The Cathedral, a magnificent work of Baroque architecture, is nearby.
Jerez de la Frontera is home to more than 20 sherry wineries. Some of these bodegas, such as Gonzalez Byass' Tio Pepe winery, offer fantastic architecture as well as interesting tours to learn about the history and current reality of sherry. Sherry is one of the world's finest wines, and while its popularity has declined in recent decades, it remains distinct and difficult to produce. A drink with a strong British influence, it has had as much influence on Jerez culture as horses and flamenco.
The Royal School of Equestrian Art is based in Jerez de la Frontera.In an adjacent arena, you can watch a show and a performance of the high art of dressage.
The horses used are bred locally by the monks of La Cartuja monastery on the outskirts of Jerez.For over 600 years, monks have done so.These horses, which have a significant amount of Arab blood, are smaller than pure race Arabs.They are very strong and extremely agile, which makes them ideal for dressage.One distinguishing feature is that they are all born black.Then, over the course of five years, they change color, with some turning completely white.
The production of sherry, as well as the work done in the vineyards and during grape harvest, played an important indirect role in the development of flamenco in Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez de la Frontera had a significant gypsy population that worked in the vineyards nearby. During the Reconquista, it was common for Gypsies to settle in Castilian cities. The growth of the wine industry attracted a large number of gypsies who found work in the harvest and other fields. They chose to live in the Barrio de Santiago district. Tio Luis el de la Juliana, a well-known character, is regarded as the first flamenco singer. Many more followed suit.
Click by Elentir from Flickr
La Atalaya Museums
The Palace of Time, or the Watchtower, is the only antique clock and watch museum in Spain and is considered unique in Europe as it houses more than 300 French, English and Central European clockworks dating from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Built-in 1877, the neoclassical palace sits on the highest point of land in the city and is surrounded by a garden, Jardines de la Atalaya, covering 18,000 m2. Guided tours are available to the museum and gardens Monday-Friday starting at 9:30 am for 6€, with payment at the ticket office. Closed on Thursday and Friday of Holy Week and during the Horse Fair in May. The museum is owned by Bodegas Sanchez Romate, so naturally, there is a tour that pairs the chimes and the ticking of the clocks with the wines of Jerez.
Click by Biblioteca de la Facultad de from Flickr
Plaza de Toros de Jerez
The new bullring, which will hold 9,500 spectators, was designed by architect Francisco Hernández Rubio and built in the first half of the 19th century, replacing one from 1840, which was a wooden structure, a 16-sided polygon shape, with two floors and a capacity for 11,000 spectators, but it burned down in 1860. Before the original bullring was built, bullfights were held in the Plaza de las Angustias. Other historic places of interest are the 17th-century Sacristy of the Cathedral del Salvador Cathedral de Jerez, the 16th-century Iglesia de San Miguel, in the Plaza San Miguel, the 18th-century Baroque Basílica Menor de Nuestra Señora del Carmen Coronado in the Plaza del Carmen and the 15th-century Real Iglesia De San Dionisio Areopagita in the Plaza Doctor Revueltas Montel, the 14th century Gothic Iglesia de San Marcos at Calle San Juan, 10, the Igles a de San Juan de Los Caballeros and the 14th-century Gothic Iglesia de Santiago, at Calle Merced, 5, and 18th-century Iglesia de San Pedro, home of the Brotherhood of Loreto, Hasta Calle Bizcocheros, 17.
Click by Marg from Flickr
Andalusian Flamenco Center
Located at Plaza de San Juan, 1, the center, housed in the 18th-century El Palacio Pemartín, is a must for flamenco enthusiasts. The center is open Monday-Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, admission is free.
Click by Brian Scott from Flickr
Alcázar de Jerez
Located directly next to Bodegas Tío Pepe is another key point of interest in Jerez - the Alcázar de Jerez. This formidable castle dates back to the 11th century when the area was under Islamic rule during the Almohad dynasty and was later taken over by the Christians during the reconquest of Andalusia. Today, you can explore the grounds of the castle, which still show the remains of Islamic influence, and visit the camera obscura for some spectacular city views. The camera obscura is one of the more unique things to do in Jerez, so it shouldn't be missed!
Click by UNED Universidad Naciona from Flickr
Catedral de Jerez
One of the top things to do in Jerez de la Frontera is to visit the Catedral de Jerez. Despite it looking medieval, it was built in the 17th century and has a bell tower with parts dating back to the 15th century. It was only declared a cathedral in 1980, but it was still one of the most important religious buildings in the city. The view from the ground is very impressive, but the view of the cathedral from the roof of the Arab Baths is even more breathtaking, especially at sunset.
Click by greg westfall from Flickr
Iglesia de San Mateo
Located across the plaza from Museo Arqueológico Municipal is another gorgeous religious building in Jerez - Iglesia de San Mateo. It may not be at the top of the list of things to do in Jerez de la Frontera, but it's worth a visit if you're in the area or have some spare time. The church itself has recently been restored, but it originally dates back to the 13th century.
Click by Jose A. from Flickr
Plaza de la Asunción
Plaza de la Asunción is one of the nicest places to visit in Jerez and is home to some important historical buildings. To the left of this photo is Iglesia de San Dionisio, a 15th-century church that has been beautifully maintained. And to the right is the Antiguo Cabildo (old town hall), which was built in the 16th century when Spain was at the height of its power as a result of its trade with the Americas.