Jerez De La Frontera - Encyclopedia




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JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA (formerly Xeres), a town of southern Spain, in the province of Cadiz, near the right bank of the river Guadalete, and on the Seville-Cadiz railway, about 7 M. from the Atlantic coast. Pop. (1900), 63,473. Jerez is built in the midst of an undulating plain of great fertility. Its whitewashed houses, clean, broad streets, and squares planted with trees extend far beyond the limits formerly enclosed by the Moorish walls, almost entirely demolished. The principal buildings are the i 5th-century church of San Miguel, the 17thcentury collegiate church with its lofty bell-tower, the 16thcentury town-hall, superseded, for official purposes, by a modern edifice, the bull-ring, and many hospitals, charitable institutions and schools, including academies of law, medicine and commerce. But the most characteristic features of Jerez are the huge bodegas, or wine-lodges, for the manufacture and storage of sherry, and the vineyards, covering more than 150,000 acres, which surround it on all sides. The town is an important market for grain, fruit and livestock, but its staple trade is in wine. Sherry is also produced in other districts, but takes its name, formerly written in English as sherris or xeres, from Jerez. The demand for sherry diminished very greatly during the last quarter of the 19th century, especially in England, which had been the chief consumer. In 1872 the sherry shipped from Cadiz to Great Britain alone was valued at £2,500,000; in 1902 the total export hardly amounted to one-fifth of this sum. The wine trade, however, still brings a considerable profit, and few towns of southern Spain display greater commercial activity than Jerez. In the earlier part of the 18th century the neighbourhood suffered severely from yellow fever; but it was rendered comparatively healthy when in 1869 an aqueduct was opened to supply pure water. Strikes and revolutionary disturbances have frequently retarded business in more recent years.

Jerez has been variously identified with the Roman Municipium Seriense; with Asido, perhaps the original of the Moorish Sherish; and with Hasta Regia, a name which may survive in the designation of La Mesa de Asta, a neighbouring hill. Jerez was taken from the Moors by Ferdinand III. of Castile (1217-1252); but it was twice recaptured before Alphonso X. finally occupied it in 1264. Towards the close of the 14th century it received the title de la Frontera, i.e. " of the frontier," common to several towns on the Moorish border.

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