Think you've done it all in Jerez? Read about our must-see picks and see if you've really checked everything on your list.
Five Things Not to Miss in Jerez
1. Mad about sherry. Many tourists show up in Jerez solely to spend time at the bodegas where world-famous sherry is made. Over 100 bodegas offer tours focusing on the winemaking process. Large warehouse bars are decked out with lights and tents, and waiters serve free samples of the potent drink. Keep in mind that most bodegas are closed on the weekends.
Gonzáles Byass (Manuel María Gonzáles 12. +34-956-357-016) is famous for its brand Tío Pepe and is open on Saturdays. Tours cost €10. Even if you don’t opt for a tour, it's pretty easy to snoop around for free!
The second most famous bodega in town is Domecq (Calle San Ildefonso, 3. +34-956-151-500.) Entrance to Domecq will run €5. At Domecq, soak up the atmosphere on the centrally located terrazza. At local taverns, taste-test on your own: Fino, Manzanilla and Amontillado are recommended styles of sherries. Insider Alert: Most bodegas are closed in August.
2. Gypsy Flamenco. If it's Festival in Jerez, flamenco flows down the streets in all of its bright, clashing colors, flowers and polka dots. At any other time of year, it can be difficult to find flamenco tablaos on a budget. The best and least expensive place for (authentic) clapping and heel stomping is at El Lagá Tío Parilla (Plaza del Mercado, +34-956-338-334 for reservations). The cover includes one drink. In the neighborhood of Barrio Santiago, shows start at 10:30 p.m. every night.
Find out from locals where the Flamenco fiesta is taking place, as peñas, or clubs, rotate turns on Friday nights starting at about 10 p.m. There are a handful of free, popular peñas in the center. La Bulería (Mariñiguez, 15, +34-956-333-648), Central Cultural Flamenco Don Antonio Chacón (Salas, 12, +34-956-347-472) and Tio José de Paula (Merced, 11, +34-956-320-196), are all recommended by locals.
3. Horses. When trailblazing monks brought their Carthusian horses to Jerez in the 15th century, the city was changed forever. La Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (The Andalusian School of Equestrian Art) at Ave. Duque de Abrantes, s/n, is a top-tier riding school. At noon on Thursdays (and Tuesdays from March to October, as well as Fridays in August), tourists gather for the Dancing Horses of Jerez. Tickets are priced around €18. If you miss the show, you can catch more budget-friendly training sessions tour of the horse grounds for €8. For more information, call +34-956-318-008 or visit the Escuela's Web site (listed above).
4. Jerez time. Don’t be late for Museo de Relojes (Clock Museum). The Palace of Time, located north of the center city, has a large collection of working clocks. The best time to go is at the stroke of noon, when the clocks chime in unison. The museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is €6, at Calle Cervantes, 3. Contact: +34-956-182-100 and online.
5. El Alcazar. Marking the historic district, this Moorish castle is the site of the original Islamic fortress (and palace) dating back to the 12th century, when Jerez was one of the most important cities in the Iberian Peninsula. Gardens and Arab baths were for private use, while the original octagonal tower was used as a watchtower.
The small, private mosque is one of the only remaining in the city. An oil mill was added in the 18th century, when olive oil was still an important export. Bring a book or a lover and relax on a bench. The castle is located at Alameda Vieja, and can be reached by telephone: +34-956-319-798.
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