Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera is a municipality in the province of Cádiz in the autonomous community of Andalusia in southwestern Spain. As of 2007, the city had 202,687 inhabitants; it is the largest city in the province of Cádiz and the fifth largest in Andalusia. It has become the transportation and communications hub of the province, surpassing even Cádiz, the provincial capital, in economic activity. Jerez de la Frontera is also, in terms of land area, the largest municipality in the province, and its sprawling outlying areas are a fertile zone for agriculture. There are also many cattle ranches and horse-breeding operations.

The city's name

Even though there are two other cities in southern Spain named Jerez (Jerez de los Caballeros in Badajoz province and Jerez del Marquesado in Granada province), when one says "Jerez", it is more than likely that it is this city, Jerez de la Frontera, that is meant. In former times, during the Muslim occupation of Iberia, it was called Xerez or Xeres. Frontera in its name refers to its location on the border between the Moorish and Christian regions of Spain during that period. The name of the famous fortified wine, sherry, which originated here, is a corruption of the city's Arabic name, Sherish.

Points of interest

The capital of sherry wine, the horse, and flamenco, Jerez, situated midway between the sea and the mountains, has a wealth of appealing tourist attractions, many of them related to the three preoccupations that made the city famous. A visitor will wish to see the famed vineyards, stop at a sherry bodega to see how the fortified wine is made, and taste the product as well. Jerez is the home of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, a riding school comparable to the world-famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. Jerez, the city where flamenco singing began, is also proud of its Andalusian Centre of Flamenco. There are two museums of note: the Jerez Archaeological Museum and the Atalaya Watch Museum (also known as "Palace of Time").

The old quarter of Jerez, dating from medieval times, has been named an "Artistic Historic Complex". The Easter week celebrations in Jerez are of "National Touristic Interest", and its remarkable Horse Fair (Feria del Caballo) in May is an event of "International Touristic Interest".

Jerez is the home of the Xerez Club Deportivo football team. It is also the site of the motorsport track, Circuito Permanente de Jerez, where the annual Motorcycling Grand Prix is contested. The race course is a prime destination for Formula One teams who wish to perform off-season testing; it also hosted the highly controversial 1997 European Grand Prix.


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