Jerez - a magical Andalucian city ...

by Zoe Dawes /
Zoe Dawes's picture
Sep 04, 2010 / 0 comments

Alcazar Palace JerezJerez - the very name sounds exotic and when linked to the region of Spain in which it is situated - Andalucia - one can almost hear the staccato clap of flamenco dancers and feel the heat of the Spanish sun warming the marbled Moorish floors.

It's seldom that I can recommend a city that fulfils all my quirky criteria for an enjoyable break with such unalloyed enthusiasm.  It's got everything - beautiful architecture spanning different centuries, varied cultures, wonderful food, friendly people, a nightlife lively enough to please most people (without the brashness of some Spanish resorts) with plenty of places for a quiet meal or drink, fascinating history and the surrounding countryside and coastline provides huge diversity.

Tio Pepe JerezOur trip was organised by a delightfully helpful lady called Rosi, who runs Camino Holidays, specialising in Jerez and southern Andalucia. This small city has three big claims to fame; it's the home of that quintessentially English tipple, sherry.  Here's Tio Pepe ... Flamenco was born in this region and the world-renowned Royal Spanish Equestrian School is based here.

There's a strong Moorish influence which is apparent in some of the most beautiful buildings in the city, including the Alcazar Palace and the Arabic Bath House. 

Rosi had booked us into Casa Leonor, a perfect Spanish lunchplace from which to explore the city. In the middle of our lounge was a graceful arch which dated back to the 16th century.  It has its own pool which was a joy to relax in after a day's sight-seeing and the views from the roof terrace are breath-taking.  This picture shows the wonderful lunch that Honor, the owner, provided for us on our arrival ...


There's a great market where we bought Iberico ham, enormous figs and langoustines.  My favourite place to sip a chilled sherry and watch the world go by, was the El Gallo Azul, near the market.  We were shown round the city by Madeleine, Rosi's daughter, who lives in Jerez and knows it well. On her recommendation we also ate at the Cruz Blanca and had the most divine battered cod fritters with beans and salad. 

 Flamenco dancing                                           Madeleine is a very talented flamenco dancer and teacher - our trip included a flamenco lesson, where I quickly learnt just how VERY difficult it is to do even the simplest moves! It all helped to make us appreciate the Flamenco dancing, singing and guitar playing that we saw at a wonderful show in the heart of Barrio where it all started.

Sherry tasting at Bodega Tradicion



The heady aroma of sherry permates every corner of Jerez and no vist would be complete without a visit to a bodega to see how it is produced. On Rosi's recommendation, we had a tour of one of the newest yet most intimate, the Bodega Tradicion. As well as learning about the quite complex art of sherry production and sampling some of the most expensive sherries in the world, we also saw the owner's private collection of Spanish art, dating from Medieval times to modern day. I loved the painted tiles of bull-fighting that Picasso did at 7 years old ....

Azahar mountian villageNot far from Jerez are some of the most spectacular 'White Villages' hidden away in the mountains.  Our driver and guide, Alejandro, drive us to Azahar and Viejar late one afternoon ... what a really memorable trip that was.  We wandered around the little lanes, gazed up at huge churches, peered over ancient ramparts across Spanish planes. We learnt so much from Alex, who is rightly proud of his home town of Jerez and the area.  Finally he took us to the Atlantic coast to watch the sunset at El Palmar beach, whilst sipping huge Mojitos at the laid-back hippyish bar, El Dorado.

Bull Ring, El Puerto de Santa MariaWe took the train to El Puerto de Santa Maria, where we saw one of the oldest bull rings in Spain and had the best fish and chips at Romerijo's "arguably the most famous purveyor of seafood in Andalucia" according to Lonely Planet's excellent guide book 'Andalucia'. We also got the boat to Cadiz, posssibly Europe's oldest city, where we wandered around the little streets full of life and colour, and had a swim in the Atlantic to cool off.

Jerez is a great place to vist any time of the year and I'm hoping to go back for their famous Ferria, a festive celebration of all that is fabulous about this wonderful city...

Sunset El Palmer

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