Visiting Jerez de la Frontera - What to See and Do
(Jerez Airport XRY, Spain)
One of the largest and most important towns in Spain's southern region of Andalucia
is Jerez de la Frontera. Best known for its golden sherry, this charming historic town has been growing grapes and making wine for more than three millennia. The primary reason to visit this part of Spain
is to tour the many 'bodegas' (wineries) based here, but there is more to see if you have the time to linger.
With mild sunny weather all year round, Jerez de la Frontera is an ideal base for exploring the smaller whitewashed villages tucked into the mountains of Andalucia. Within the city there are monuments and attractions from the Moorish era, churches from the Christian Reconqusita and several very interesting museums relating to the rich history of this city.
A dozen historic palaces are another highlight here, exemplifying the wealth that Jerez de la Frontera has enjoyed over its long lifespan. Exploring the old city centre on foot is the only way to go. There are traditional markets, quiet sunny plazas and great scenery at every turn. Try to visit in spring or autumn, when the town hosts its best festivals and boasts its most pleasant weather.
Ten things you must do in Jerez de la Frontera
- Sherry is the main reason that people come to Jerez de la Frontera, so be sure to spend a day or two touring the Sherry Triangle north-west of the city. With more than 100 sherry bodegas in the area, you can probably find a name you recognise, such as Sandeman or Pedro Domecq. Most bodegas provide tours of their facility, then offer tastings. You can, of course, buy wine onsite as well.
- Jerez de la Frontera has its very own Moorish Alcazar that dates back to the 8th century. The original walls are surrounded by gardens that have been carefully replanted to mimic the original Moorish ones. Inside the walls is a mosque and the imposing Palacio de Villavicencio, with its unique camera obscura.
- The Barrio de Santiago old quarter is where you will find most of the historic atmosphere in Jerez de la Frontera. Starting at the cathedral, this district trickles uphill through a maze of narrow cobblestone lanes. Among the many historic highlights in this old quarter is the Iglesia de San Mateo, with its interesting Mudejar chapels.
- At the Plaza del Mercado you can delve into the rich past of Jerez de la Frontera inside the Archaeological Museum. Its treasures span the Mediterranean empires from the 6th century BC right through the Muslim era and beyond. It has a great collection of Moorish artefacts and even an exhibit of the most ancient Hasta Regia Roman settlement.
- The Dancing Horses of Jerez de la Frontera are a unique attraction to this city. The tradition of training Hispano-Arab horses to be noble prancers dates back millennia, and every Thursday visitors can watch these magical horses perform at the Andalucian School of Equestrian Art. Other days you can simply watch the horses training or browse the collection of equestrian artefacts inside the onsite Horse and Carriage Museum (Museo del Enganche).
- Andalucia is the home of flamenco dancing, and Jerez de la Frontera has its notable venues where you can watch this fiery dance performed. For a deeper understanding into the dance, check out the city's Centro Andaluz de Flamenco, a modern museum devoted to flamenco. It is free and has an audio-visual show that tells the story of this famous dance.
- Another interesting and unusual attraction in Jerez de la Frontera is the Clock Museum. Inside are more than 300 French and British timepieces that date back to the 17th century. All of these rare vintage clocks and watches are in perfect working order, chiming in harmony at noon each day.
- One of Andalucia's oldest churches is the 15th-century Iglesia de San Miguel. This Gothic beauty sits just south of the central Plaza de Arenal and has one of the most beautiful exteriors in southern Spain. Its stained-glass windows are particularly impressive.
- Clean and refresh your body at the same time in the historic Hammam Andalusi, the city's historic Arabic bathhouse. The baths are located in the old quarter inside a charming 18th-century palace. You pay by the hour, moving through the three pools from warm to hot, and then to cold. Massages and other health treatments are also available onsite.
- The top art venue in Jerez de la Frontera is the Joaquin Rivero Collection, a gallery dedicated to Spanish artists from the 15th to 19th centuries. Among the 300 or so treasures on display are works by Goya, Zurbaran, Velazquez and several other famous Spaniards. It is a great private collection, and one of the best in all Andalucia.