At the time of writing, Sherry lovers are enjoying a week of celebration leading up to the first ever World Sherry Day, with all kind of events taking place across the globe and especially in Jerez de la Frontera.
At Toma Tours we have also been enjoying and exploring the fascinating world of Sherry with our photo-blog tours of El Puerto de Santa Maria, and Sanlúcar de la Barrameda.
This week it´s the turn of the star of the show, Jerez de la Frontera.
We hope you enjoy this photo tour as much as we enjoyed writing it, and if it leaves you yearning to explore further then do ask about our new Sherry Triangle Tour, it would be our absolute pleasure to share these wonderful experiences with you first hand.
Sherry Triangle towns (III): Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez is the place which is synonymous with Sherry, a town which brings to mind images of Andalucian architecture, proud dancing horses, and dusty bodegas.
The most populated town in the province of Cádiz, Jerez has more than two hundred thousand inhabitants and a fascinating history.
Unlike the two other Sherry Triangle towns, Jerez is not on the coast. However the sea is only twelve kilometres away so the Atlantic breezes easily reach its catchment area – the sixth largest in Spain thanks to the vast plantations of vineyards.
The name Sherry comes from Moorish times when the town was called Scherisch. The design and layout of the old town dates from this period, as well as the city walls and its watch towers.
After the reconquest in the late 13th century, the name of the town evolved to Xerez and because of its location at the border between the Muslim kingdom of Granada and the Christian kingdom of Castilla, “de la Frontera” was added to the original name.
Even though the kingdom of Granada was taken over by the Catholic Kings by the end of the 15th century, Jerez didn’t change its name so even today it’s still known as Jerez de la Frontera.
The end of the reconquest saw some beautiful religious constructions being built, like the convent of Saint Dominic and St. Michael’s church, probably the most stunning temple in Jerez.
It took centuries for both buildings to be finished, so they feature an amazing combination of architecture styles ranging from gothic to renaissance and baroque.
The Carthusian Monastery of Santa María de la Defensión was also built then, and holds the key to a major element of the history of the town.
This is where the Carthusian monks started to breed horses in the 15th century, and today the Purebred Spanish Horse is greatly revered around the world for its beauty and intelligence.
After the discovery of America, Jerez became one of the wealthiest towns in Andalucia because of its proximity to the busy commercial hubs of Seville and Cádiz. More and more churches, as well as grand private residences were built, giving shape to how the town looks today and why visitors love it so much.
In the 18th and 19th century Jerez saw a period of modernization and development around its wine industry.
Sherry Wines were finding fame worldwide and many bodegas were built, providing the town with a powerful economic engine which still roars today.
The 20th century in Jerez saw the opening of the famous Royal School of Equestrian Art and also gave birth to remarkable flamenco artists like José Mercé, Lola Flores or Moraíto.
Nowadays flamenco is an important part of life in Jerez. Some people belong to flamenco societies called “peñas” and gather in small venues to eat, drink and see performances in a very familiar and respectful atmosphere.
The town also hosts an international festival every year that attracts artists, promoters and aficionados from all over the world.
In Jerez you will find the most traditional and genuine of all Sherry bars. Known as “tabancos” some of them date from the nineteen twenties and thirties. Here we can enjoy a wide variety of Sherries served straight from the casks.
Jerez’s large population fills the lively market every morning where local food suppliers sell fresh fruits and vegetables from the fertile banks of the Guadalete and Guadalquivir rivers, cheese and meat from the farms in the near mountains of Grazalema and fish from the Atlantic.
This great combination of architecture, history and traditions is at the core of what is now a very modern town. Today, Jerez has an international airport, university, direct high-speed trains to Madrid, a race circuit for F1 and moto GP and a modest yet important technology industry.
Jerez has a reputation of being a lovely an affordable place to live within the province of Cádiz and we must admit that we are not surprised. It’s a wonderful town, ideal for visitors with a thirst for amazing discoveries.
Toma runs a regular day trip to Jerez from the Marbella area, called the Spirit of Jerez tour, find out more by contacting us today.
We have also just launched a brand new 3 day circuit tour of the Sherry Triangle where you can enjoy first hand the wonderful towns of El Puerto de Santa Maria, Sanlucar de Barrameda and Jerez de la Frontera. For details click here.