Jerez Alcazar is the oldest almohad monument preserved in the Iberian Peninsula (12th-13th century). Very intense works of restoration and reconstruction were done in the medieval ruins. In the head picture of this post, you can see a miniature of the medieval town of Jerez. The miniature is located in Villavicencio palace, also in the Alcazar itself. Let’s make zoom in the lower left corner to see the almohad alcazar much better.
Today I bring you just a short visit to the areas of the Alcazar still preserved from the medieval times of al Andalus, compound by towers and walls, a hamman or bath, a royal pavilion and a mosque. I’ll describe in more detail my favorite part at the end.
From outside, the first elements that takes our attention are its walls and the octagonal tower. The technique used in their construction is stone bond and tapial, which is what leaves the little holes in the surface of the walls.
Once inside of the Alcazar I recommend going first to the baroque Villavicencio palace to see the miniature that recreates the city of Jerez in the 12th century. Inside of this palace there is also a camera obscura. After that, we can continue visiting the different medieval sections. They are surrounded by beautiful gardens with fountains and ditches among cypresses, olives, pomegranate and palm trees, creating a wonderful atmosphere of numerous colors and water sounds.
Next to the octagonal tower we can visit the royal pavilion and the excavations made next to it. The pavilion is clearly very reconstructed, but still preserves some horse shoe arches and the water tank.
The hamman is located next to the excavations. We can visit the different rooms (cold, warm and hot) of the hamman and enjoy the gorgeous light shaft created by the stars graved in the ceilings.
Finally, my favorite part of the Alcazar. We just have to go to the parade ground. The building next to this central square is the mosque. It is very easy to recognize once we see the little sahn or courtyard with a central little fountain. Going to the right, we’ll be in the haram or prayer hall with the central mihrab. The mihrab points the qibla: the direction towards prays have to be oriented. This mosque is oriented to the south, not to La Meca, following the same model established by the Mosque of Cordoba. The haram is covered by an octagonal vault, something not common in the Islamic architecture. The oculus in the ceiling was made in the 18th century.
There is an altarpiece on one side of the haram. The mosque was converted into a Christian church when Jerez was conquered by Alfonso the 10th, but this altar is an addition from the 20th century. To finish, going back to the courtyard and turning to the left, outside we’ll see the minaret. The top part is a present reconstruction, but the rest of the tower is the original one.
My purpose with this post is to make you visit this place if you are visiting Jerez, apart from trying the wonderful sherry wines and enjoy the Andalusian horses show. Jerez has a very interesting and unknown heritage like the Alcazar. If you need a guide to discover this wonderful city, you can count on me.