Jo’s Monday walk : A soggy ending, in an Alcazar

“Is the weather always like this?”, I asked the smiling receptionist, as I shook the drips from my hood.  “Never!”, she replied, with an adamant shake of the head.  My lucky day, then.  But there was no other option, as I was determined to see the Alcazar of Jerez, and soon we would be homeward bound.  The video playing in the background displayed wall to wall sunshine.  Salt in the wounds, but it was a magnificent sight.  ‘Alcazar’ derives from the Arab word al-qasr, meaning a group of buildings, surrounded by walls, used both as a fortress and a palace.  Built in the 12th century, this was the seat of political and military power ruling the city.

A sprint across the courtyard brought me to the shelter of the mosque, or mesquita, the only one still to exist from the 18 of the Islamic city.  Dating from 12th century, it has all the usual elements- the minaret, for calling the faithful to prayer, and an ablutions courtyard with central fountain for purification before entering the prayer room, itself presided over by the Mihrab, a small niche in the wall facing Mecca.

Tucked within the walls, the biggest olive press I ever saw.  The oil mill was added in the 18th century, when growing olive trees was of great commercial importance to Jerez and the surrounding countryside.

Swiftly crossing the Parade Ground, where military formations were once assembled and reviewed, I beheld the sorry sight of the drowning garden.

Beyond it the Royal Pavilion, designed for reclining beside the pool, and the Octagonal Tower.    Part of the original Islamic fortress, situated at its highest point, it makes a superb watchtower.  And you know that, weather or no, I was going up there.

Happily I’m not the only one with a careless disregard for the weather.  Climbing the tower behind me, a Frenchman declares that all is simply ‘magnifique’.  We agree that in bright sunshine we’d have to share it with many others.  From the tower you can see the scale of the Alcazar, the walls originally 4 kilometres long.  An area under excavation dates back to the 10th century.  It includes a pottery kiln , water wheel and reservoir.

However exhilarating the views, rain dripping off your nose can become tiresome, and I was not sorry to scurry back across the courtyard to the palace.  In 1664 Lorenzo Fernandez de Villavicencio inherited the Alcazar.  He undertook much restoration work, including this beautiful piece of baroque, over the ruins of the old Islamic palace.

A dark wood staircase and superbly carved doorway dominate the space.  Lofty rooms filled with beautiful pieces.  And the ‘piece de resistance’, a remarkable pharmacy, with carved original wooden shelving, flasks and jars.

A Camera Obscura on the top floor of the palace seemed like a bad idea in such murky weather.  The Hammam, or Arab Baths, might have been a better experience.  In the event, I slipped back out, past the still smiling receptionist.

That concludes my couple of days in Jerez.  This Andalusian city has neither the grandeur of Granada nor the unique beauty of Cordoba, but it has a charm and character all of its own.  I enjoyed it very much, and I hope that you did too.

With Easter behind us, I hope you’ll take time to read the walks I’m sharing this week.  Many thanks to all my contributors and to those who just enjoy a bit of a ramble.  Please join me at any time with a walk of your own.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Kettle on, and let’s go!

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Spectacular scenery from Pauline to start us off this week :

Waterfall walk

It’s not everybody who can take a walk without talking.  Enjoy the peace, with lovely Meg!

Wordless walk: 1080 to Tilba Headland

And if you want to share some knowledge too… :

Never the same place twice : Pooles to 1080

Naughty George and adorable Flora accompany Gilly along the canal.  Watch out, ducks!

Beside the Grand Western

Suzanne is a housesitter who likes to get about a bit.  Join her in Turkey :

Neighbourhood Walks – Iztuzu Beach & more

Fabulous falls in a gush of swirling water, from Drake.  Must be all that rain!

Falling water

Sunshine after the rain.  Thanks, Irene!

Ended in Sunshine

And just a reminder, in case you needed it.  Magical snow in NYC, with Susan :

The Magic of New York City : Central Park in the Snow

Not actually a walk but it’s walk related.  Thanks for sharing, Denzil :

23 Ways Hiking Makes you Healthier

And a gentleman hiker I discovered at Denzil’s place.  Meet Guidowke with an interesting look at Belgium :

GR5AZ Rupelmonde – Branst

Or travel through history with David in a beautifully peaceful French village :

Village of Azincourt

What will I do when Jude runs out of Garden Portraits?  Give up blogging, I suspect :

Garden Portrait : Dunster Secret Garden

We drove home from Jerez in tumultuous rain, crashing against the windscreen, that old adage ‘the rain in Spain…’ drumming in our ears.  And now, on an English Bank Holiday Monday, it’s much the same.  Stay dry, and cheerful, this week, won’t you?

95 comments

  1. The Alcazar looks pretty impressive even in the torrential rain Jo – will be good for the gardens there! Glad you made it up the tower and safely back down again. I love the pharmacy too – all those all wooden shelves and bottles. Hope it’s not still raining – actually think it’s going to be quite mild in the Uk this week? Sorry a bit behind again – a funeral to go to amongst other things last week and I was chasing my tail! Hope all is well with you and I’ll pop by for this week’s walk soon 🙂

    1. No worries, hon. Life here is a bit hectic at times too. It’s April so we’re allowed showers now, aren’t we? 🙂 🙂 Our walk this morning was lovely, but the showers did catch up with us briefly. Jerez left so many good memories. 🙂

      1. March winds and April showers though it was rather a case of March snow when we were over! Pleasantly cool here – there is an autumnal air about but still sunny during the days at present. Jerez looks a fascinating place – always loves those places where cultures meet 🙂 Hope you have a lovely week – school hols here and we have the girls all day as our daughter is on a study placement (she’s doing some professional development for her teaching work in the holidays!). We are going to a PJ Masks Show at the local shopping centre soon -wish us luck!! 🙂 🙂

  2. I did enjoy it greatly Jo…very atmospheric I thought! Your comment about the rain reminds me of the time we went to Lanzarotte one year in April. We wanted to escape the cold and rain in England and had been promised warm sunshine. It rained most days, getting their annual rainfall in one day if felt like, while they had a heatwave back home. Hotter than Greece, we were told. Ha…typical! Lovely photos and very interesting too as always. I hope to join you in a walk very soon…first time in a long while, you might say! Hope you like it…until then, have a lovely and dry weekend dear Jo 🙂 xxx

    1. We have friends who get rained upon in Fuerteventura every February, Sherri. We haven’t quite figured why they keep going back. 🙂 🙂 Looking forward to walking with you. Have a hug or two till then. 🙂

  3. Too much rain didn’t stop the beauty in the photos! I do like a bit of mist and moisture, and the added benefit of less people makes this a real gem in my view. (also the photo of the stone walkway just wouldn’t be the same without the raindrops 🙂 )

  4. I don’t think the rain marred the beauty. In fact, looking at the photos the weather almost added to the mystery of such a gorgeous and ancient city. You’ve certainly been to some amazing places, Jo! 🙂

    1. It was certainly atmospheric, with that half lighting and water everywhere, Debbie. I like a place with character and Jerez was anything but bland. I really enjoyed it. 🙂 🙂

  5. I’m glad the weather didn’t stop you from enjoying this beautiful place, Jo. It’s a bit overcast and cool here today too, and I’m hoping it stays fine on the Gold Coast for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games this evening.

    1. Pauline was quite excited about that, Carol. She watched the last lap of the torch bearing (by skateboard- how very Australian 🙂 ). I expect it’ll be on our news channels.

  6. Well, this post and photo gallery exude a different kind of mood, atypical to your usual Iberian Peninsula photos. But, that makes the experience – for you and your readers – more unique, I’d say. Still magnifique, I have to agree with you fellow visitor. Aren’t we special to have that one (or the only) rainy day(s) recorded in the area in a long while? You in Jerez, and we in the desert a few weeks ago. 🙂

    1. I’ll always remember Jerez for the weather, Liesbet, but more than that, those fabulous horses and flamenco. Here in the UK it’s getting tiresome waiting for warmer, or even drier weather, but I don’t think it’s the first time I’ve thought that. Otherwise I wouldn’t be moving south. 🙂 🙂

  7. Finally got here! Looks like a lovely place for a wander. And I am still perfectly dry! Now wondering if I can reach Cadiz, Jerez and Cordoba by using Seville as a base. On public transport of course. Or do I opt for Florence? Mulling over choices for the mother/daughter trip later this year. And you can rest a while, as I have no more garden portraits for now. Still a few oldies to write up, but I shall leave them until the end of the year. Hopefully I will get out to some new gardens over the coming months 🙂 And hoping to have some plant portraits too!

    1. In a week I expect you could, but you’d be on the move a bit. Don’t know about Cordoba but I’m sure there’ll be a bus. Needs a few organisational skills, Jude, but I’m sure you’re up to it. I’m still trying to get my head around a potential Polish trip and a couple of sick/unhappy relatives. Florence was fabulous! Over to you… 🙂 🙂

  8. Even in the rain this is a magnificent building Jo and I can just imagine those gardens glowing in the sunshine, but I guess to grow at all they must have some rain. Thank you for the link, already had a couple come over from here.Sun during the day, rain at night over here.I like it like that…

    1. That”s a good positive response, Pauline. I’m feeling as gloomy as the weather right now, but I just need to give myself a shake and carry on. Share a hug with me? 🙂 🙂

      1. Sure will Jo, sending sunny hugs to you. Watch some of the coverage of our Commonwealth Games, hopefully it will be sunny, but at the moment it is very overcast and the opening ceremony starts in 4 hours time

  9. I just love the photos of the arches. The way there are a few of them one after the other in each photo, plus the dramatic shadows that they create. So lovely. Have not been here but your post is tempting and next time we are in the region, we will head this way, hopefully in sunshine. Mm the olive press adds so much added design visual.

    Peta

  10. Being a bit silly, I didn’t know the meaning of Alcazar, I thought it was just the name of the one in Seville, thank you for that 🙂 I’ve never seen and olive press either, what a sheltered life I’ve led.This building has everything doesn’t it, they could almost have been self sufficient, even a pharmacy, that must have been fascinating. Shame about the garden, but it gives you an excuse to go back and you’ll have plenty of time soon and hopefully you won’t get a drippy nose. Happy Tuesday my lovely, back to work for me today x:-)x

    1. I have it in my head, Gilly, that you’ve been to Cordoba and taken photos of the Mesquita? There’s an Alcazar there too, which we saw on a beautiful sunny day. The one in Seville I’ve seen in sunshine and in rain, and in Granada it was bloomin’ cold up there. 🙂 🙂 I was quite taken with the olive press too. I doubt we’ll return as there’s a lot of Portugal still to see, but I have yet to make it to Cadiz (also with an alcazar 🙂 ) and that’s just an extra half hour down the road, so you never know. 🙂 Another grey day but I shall go and buy some flowers (and bread- we’ve been a bit cabined up 😦 ) and there’s an estate agent coming this afternoon. Tuesday hug!

  11. Thanks for taking me to Alcazar Job. Funnily enough it was raining while I was reading so I felt every word. There wasn’t any water dripping off my nose though 😀

    1. Your rainy day reading is very simpatico, Brian. 🙂 🙂 It’s done nothing else here for days but it might have stopped this morning. I hardly dare look.

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