Jerez de la Frontera: Alcàzar!!!

And looking over my previous posts on my beloved Spain, found out did several on the sherry wines but not on the monument. And of course, one is very important there so cannot believe it when not written about it. Let me tell you now a bit on the Alcàzar of Jerez de la Frontera!

Here we are again with a piece of my beloved Spain. This is deep Spain, in fact when visitors comes to Spain or hear about it, what they really see / hear is Andalucia. Not bad to wandered around Spain, as we say Spain is everything under the sun ::)

Jerez de la Frontera is the most populated province of Cádiz in Andalusia. It is 6 km from El Puerto de Santa María, 12 km from the Atlantic Ocean and 85 km from the Strait of Gibraltar. The city is one of the 6 towns that make up the Bahía de Cádiz-Jerez metropolitan area, a polynuclear urban agglomeration formed by the towns of Cádiz, Chiclana de la Frontera, Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto Real, El Puerto de Santa María and San Fernando located in the Bay of Cádiz.

The Discovery of America and the Conquest of Granada, in 1492, made Jerez one of the most prosperous cities in Andalusia thanks to trade and its proximity to the ports of Sevilla and Cádiz. In fact, the strategic situation of the city made king Felipe II consider building a navigable estuary so that ships could get from the city’s jetty in El Portal to the city through the Guadalete river and that the city was included among the 480 cities of the world that are part of the Civitates Orbis Terrarum. (It was an editorial project conceived as a complement to Abraham Ortelius’ world atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), which became the most complete collection of panoramic views, plans and commentaries textual of cities published during the Modern Age.)

The one I like to tell you here is the Alcàzar ,old arab fortress and inside of it has the Palacio de Villavicencio and a hidden camera; as well as the ramparts walls with pieces of it on several streets, open or encrusted in buildings today. Need to tell you Jerez de la Frontera, means Jerez at the frontier as this was the name given to towns conquered by the Catholic kings army marching thru liberating it from muslim rule and after conquest and stop the area became the frontier between the two worlds. Hence, Jerez de la Frontera was a frontier town.

The Alcázar de Jerez de la Frontera, is a group of fortified buildings of Almohad origin ,probably the 12C, being the oldest Almohad building on the Iberian peninsula, to which later palatial baroque buildings were added, and which is one of the main monuments of the city; It is located in the corner of the wall that surrounded the city, next to the Alameda Vieja. It is considered one of the few examples of Almohad architecture that exists in the Iberian Peninsula.

Jerez de la Frontera

In the middle of the 11C, Jerez swore allegiance to the Banu Jizrun of the Taifa kingdom of Arcos. It is precisely to this time that the first architectural remains located in the fortress belong, although these are reduced to a few foundations, made with stones locked with mud. In the 12C, in response to the authority of the Almoravids, Jerez proclaimed an independent taifa under the government of Abul Gamar ibn Garrun, king of Ronda. From 1146 he swore allegiance to the Almohads, who will take control of Al Andalus (Andalucia) in their fight against the Christians of the north. Most of the Islamic buildings that remain in the quarterdeck belong to this stage, which lasts until 1248, when Jerez declared himself a vassal of the Kingdom of Castilla, reigning in this Fernando III El Santo. Between 1248 and 1255, the Alcàzar will remain in the hands of its Muslim governor, named Aben Obeit in Christian literary sources, until Jerez is besieged by the Castilians, and the Alcazar is conquered. However, in 1264 the Muslims of Jerez rebelled against Christian rule, entering the quarterdeck and passing the entire Christian garrison to the knife! king Alfonso X reacts against the revolt, besieging the city for five months, in 1264. As a result of this siege, Jerez surrenders to the Castilian troops, all the Islamic inhabitants of the city being expelled, who sought refuge in nearby towns or emigrated to Africa.

From the original Islamic fortress, the doors, the mosque, the Arab baths, the octagonal tower and the Pavilion of the patio of Doña Blanca de Borbón are preserved. From later stages, the Torre del Homenaje 15C, and the Baroque palace of Villavicencio and the Molino de Aceite or Oil mill  18C stand out. Partially surrounded by the large Alameda Vieja, the imposing Torre Octagonal or octagonal tower stands out with its presence, with its characteristic Almohad double curb, as well as the Torre del Homenaje de los Ponce de León. Later, a Renaissance facade replaced the old wall of passage to the Arab baths.

Jerez de la Frontera

The Mosque and the Arab Baths built by the Almohad sovereigns, this mosque is the only one that remains in the city of the eighteen that existed during the Islamic period. Its interior, now suitably restored, preserves, in addition to its classic horseshoe arches, the substantial parts for the Muslim rite, such as the minaret, the courtyard of ablutions, the prayer room and the mihrab, as well as an altar that reminds us that the first Christian Chapel of Santa María del Alcázar was created here. The Arab Baths keep the three classic rooms of this type of facility in very good condition. Built with sober solid and rough brick, starry skylights open in the domes of their ceilings, giving them the intimacy with which they were conceived. The Pabellon Real or royal pavilion has undergone archaeological excavations  being carried out.

Palacio de Villavicencio.  This stately palace was created by Don Lorenzo Fernández de Villavicencio, one of the first wardens of the city, and stands on one of its sides from the year 1664 on the remains of previous Arab buildings. It is a remarkable baroque palace that served as a residence for this and other city wardens and public representatives.  Inside it is housed what was saved from the pharmacy of the Municipal Pharmacy originally in the Convento de la Merced de Jerez de la Frontera. It is in perfect condition and completed with various furniture from the period 19C.

The Camera obscura or hidden camera, inside the main tower of the Palacio de Villavicencio, the tallest in the city. A simple set of lenses and mirrors with which you can see in real time and bird’s eye view of everything that happens at the moment in the streets and squares of the city; as well as the main monuments, church steeples and steeple and, roofs of palaces and mansions, and the distant farmland of the Jerez countryside.

Jardines or gardens in the Alcázar has several landscaped areas that include olive trees, cypresses and various flowers and fish ponds. Currently you can access much of the surface, leaving a small extension attached to finish completing. Attached to the mill building are the gardens of the old teatro Eslava which are used for cultural activities.
The Patio de Armas is the most spacious area of ​​the complex, the place where in times of Almohad rule the governor formed his troops. The main buildings of the Alcázar are arranged around this space, and it currently houses all kinds of social and cultural activities.

And now i feel better showing this wonderful complex that still needs to be seen fully. Hope you have enjoy this wonderful Alcàzar of Jerez de la Frontera!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and is a must are

The city of Jerez de la Frontera on the Alcàzar complex: City of Jerez on the Alcazar

The Jerez de la Frontera tourist office on the Alcàzar and especially the palace: Jerez tourist office on the Alcazar

The Cadiz province tourist office on Jerez de la FronteraCadiz province tourist office on Jerez de la Frontera

And remember, happy travels, good health, and  many cheers to all!!

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