Jerez de La Frontera
The biggest city in the province of Cádiz, Jerez is famous above all for its sherry bodegas, equestrian spectacles and flamenco. Jerez combines the new with the old; modern restaurants and shops selling big fashion brands in the centre contrast with old churches and long-established bodegas. It is the celebration and conservation of Jerez’s proud traditions which has allowed this city to flourish financially.
Built in the 12th Century, the Alcázar is one of the few remaining remaining structures in Spain which showcase the beautiful Almohad style of architecture. This includes the octagonal defense tower, a converted mezquita (mosque) and the 18th Century Palacio Villavicencio. At the top of the tower in the Palacio Villavicencio there is a camera obscura through which you can see a panorama view of Jerez.
The Alcázar also contains very well-preserved Arab baths with the three original rooms typical of baths from this period; the cold room, the warm room and the hot room; and beautiful Moorish gardens.
Visiting the Alcázar will help students to appreciate the importance of Moorish influence on Spanish architecture, as well as the important role of this city during the Moorish occupation of Spain.
Did you know? – ‘Jerez de la Frontera’ means Jerez of the border. This is because it was once the frontier of Moorish Spain and this is why the fortress, or Alcázar, was necessary.
Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (Royal Andalusian Equestrian School)
At this prestigious riding school, horses are trained for dressage. There are lots of options for what to do here – there are two museums (one features equestrian art, the other horse carriages) and, at selected times the public is allowed to watch the horse training sessions. However, the main event here is the famous show entitled ‘How Andalusian Horses Dance’, described by the school as an ‘equestrian ballet’.
Seeing the horses at the Real Escuela is a really unique activity that students will find enjoyable and memorable. Not only this, but the outfits show incorporates classic Spanish dress and music, giving a sense of the value Jerez and Andalusia more widely places on conserving and continuing traditional culture.
Jerez has a ‘Centro Comercial Abierto’ – an outdoor shopping centre, as well as a few extra streets lined with shops, if you prefer a more Spanish shopping experience. Alternatively, there are also a couple of shopping malls; Área Sur and Luz Shopping.
Jerez has a combination of well-known clothes brands such as Zara, along with independent shops selling artisan goods such as pottery, laterns and wickerwork. If you look closely you will find a high street shop selling exquisite flamenco dresses!
Also see: If you’re planning a trip during April or May, check to see if it coincides with the Feria del Caballo, Jerez’s annual local festival!
Journey time to Jerez: Jerez is only 20 mins away from Spark by coach or 10 mins by train. The train station is a half-hour walk from Spark.