In the second post of our series exploring the Sherry Triangle in Andalucia in celebration of World Sherry Day 2013, we are taking a photo tour of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz. If you missed our first port of call, El Puerto de Santa Maria, you can catch up here. and stay tuned for the next instalment, Jerez de la Frontera…
Sherry Triangle towns (II): Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a charming coastal town at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river in South West Andalucia. Along with El Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez, it forms part of the famous “Sherry Triangle”; a unique area of Andalucia where Sherry has been produced for centuries.
Throughout history, Sanlúcar has been a natural harbour for sailors venturing into the Atlantic; south-east towards the Mediterranean, west towards the Americas and north along the river as far as Seville.
This explains the past and present identity and character of this wonderful town, which today stands out for its lively pace, colourful buildings, quality Sherry, delicious fresh fish and vegetables, and remarkably kind people.
The Phoenicians were the first master sailors and traders to have used Sanlúcar. The Moors were also based in the town which then belonged to the Cora of Sidonia, until Alfonso X expelled the whole Muslim population by the end of the 13th century.
Then came the repopulation of the town, which in a short time became a very successful commercial hub. The wealth of that period is corroborated by one of Sanlúcar’s main churches, our lady of the “O”, which has a stunning gothic – mudéjar façade.
By the second half of the 15th century, Sanlúcar was already exporting important amounts of wine to northern Europe and to other commercial cities in the Mediterranean. More gothic constructions followed, helping to shape the town as we see it today.
After the discovery of America and the subsequent monopolization in Seville of the trade with the Spanish Indies, Sanlúcar would be the port for the largest galleons. Here they would avoid the tedious river journey to the commercial capital of Sevilla by using Sanlúcar as their base.
The colonial architecture in Sanlúcar, both civil and religious, dates from this period. Many religious orders settled in the town which became the waiting place of missionaries before leaving for the Americas.
After the monopoly of the trade with the Americas was moved from Seville to Cádiz in 1711, Sanlúcar was not such a strategic place anymore. However, this didn’t stop merchants from building their palaces in the town. It also features some important religious buildings from the 18th century, like a very curious Jesuit Convent where many families live nowadays sharing the cloisters as open-air socialising spaces.
Dry Sherry from Sanlúcar known as Manzanilla ages in contact with the air, so the Atlantic and Guadalquivir breezes influence this process and gives it a distinct salty taste which is very unique from this area.
Manzanilla as we know it today, experienced a notorious growth throughout the 19th century when many bodegas were built. Sanlúcar became a cosmopolitan summer destination for wealthy families from Seville. Many started to build their holiday palaces there in architectural styles from different parts of the world.
Nowadays Sanlúcar is famous for its fish and shellfish which is freshly cooked in the lovely restaurants of the fishermen quarter known as “Bajo de Guía”. This area, next to the mouth of the Guadalquivir overlooks the National Park of Doñana, one of the most precious nature reserves in Spain.
Further along the river there’s the busy fishing harbour, next to which we can find incredibly genuine bars where fishermen gather.
Vegetables from Sanlúcar have a great reputation too and local shops in Seville and in the towns along the bay of Cádiz are always proud to announce it when they have “Papas de Sanlúcar”. The fertile banks of the Guadalquivir river allow Sanlúcar to have a healthy local agriculture.
The town is also famous for its lively main square “Plaza del Cabildo” where you can find fantastic tapas bars serving delicious local food and Sherry.
People from Cádiz and Seville often spend holidays in Sanlúcar, attracted by its cheerful atmosphere, tasty food and wine and wonderful climate.
Sanlúcar is a very welcoming town and its nearly seventy thousand inhabitants are very giving and full of kindness. It’s easy: the people, food, wine and climate make places like Sanlúcar so worth visiting.
Toma Tours also run a popular day to Jerez where we experience the magnificent Andalucian Equestrian art at its home, and learn some very special secrets at one of our favourite bogegas. Learn more about our Spirit of Jerez Tour.
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Coming up next in our Sherry Triangle photo blog, Jerez de la Frontera