Jerez de los Caballeros. Come and discover.

The Holy Week of the ‘Very Noble and Very Loyal City’ of Jerez de los Caballeros was declared the Festival of National Tourist Interest in 2015. It could be defined as an original way of feeling and expressing deep emotions in the framework of a marvelous setting, a performance of all the aesthetics that the city has been able to treasure in centuries of tradition. Much of the blame of this spectacle enchantment, repeated year after year and being so different every spring, lies in its urban placement, which is elegantly mysterious and captivating.

Indeed, the peculiar physiognomy of the city is an accomplice of this popular event where history, culture, art and the most ancient traditions come together, a legacy of centuries as a sign of identity of an open and welcoming city. The slopes, the narrow streets and the corners with impossible angles combine in perfect harmony to embrace the greatest and most ancient artistic expression in the whole of Extremadura. In the year 556 A.C, in times of the Visigoths, a temple was consecrated to Santa María and in 1513 – when Vasco Núñez de Balboa from Jerez discovered the Pacific Ocean –there was already evidence of the existence of a Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary. There have been almost fifteen centuries of Christianity in this frontier land, the heart of the meadows, a land marked by the deep trace of the Orders of the Temple and Santiago.

The Baroque period enriched this walled city with four magnificent parish churches topped by four splendid towers which, wherever you look, give the city a unique silhouette. Furthermore, this is the same baroque period that paved the way for an aesthetic with its own personality, with a character that can only have what is authentic, a hallmark of quality that can only be achieved with the passage of centuries. In the end, the path led to one of the most primitive and attractive artistic manifestations of Extremadura.

The Holy Week of Jerez de los Caballeros deserved to be the first in Extremadura to be named of Regional Tourist Interest in 1987. Undoubtedly it was the best in Extremadura for its tradition, its originality, its artistic quality and its popular roots. The tradition and the local colour of the city, and the existence of eight brotherhoods of penitence that take part in around twenty public activities during the Holy Week, as well as filling the cultural life of Jerez throughout the year, also played an important role. 

Thus, this is the quality of this popular performance in which all the arts play their role in harmony in this surprising scenario, where tradition, penitence, music, silence, sculpture, goldsmithing and feelings come together to offer a stunning spectacle capable of invading all the senses of the spectator.

The passing of the years has led to the addition of a material heritage of great value. In Jerez de los Caballeros, the oldest schools of Spanish imagery are represented in perfect conjunction with the best of the Baroque schools of the 20th century: Antonio León Ortega, Castillo Lastrucci, Sebastián Santos, Hernández León, Ortega Bru, Luis Álvarez Duarte, Ventura Gómez… In addition, the most notable goldsmiths and embroiderers, bands and musical groups belonging to the brotherhoods stand out, together with an endless number of original parades, all of them of great artistic category. The city is such a precious jewel that proudly flaunts titles, honours, royal privileges and papal bulls that the Brotherhoods proudly display in their names: Archicofradías, Antiguas, Reales y Pontificias. Everything lays in the well-kept Casas de Hermandad, authentic House-Museums where a valuable heritage is preserved, a permanent exhibition of brotherhood art. The Holy Week in Jerez de los Caballeros is the contrast between austerity and primitivism, together with the splendour of the Baroque.

Jerez de los Caballeros is a welcoming city where visitors will be captivated by every corner, in the magic of the sunrise, in the respectful silence and in the bustle, in the sobriety and in the excess. They will feel themselves vibrating at the rhythmic pace of the parade participants, in the rhythmic movement of the palios, in the emotion of the music and the saetas, in the intense smell of incense and wax.

If we add the presence of an interesting cultural invitation, the warmth of the people of Jerez and a quality gastronomic offer, you will undoubtedly be able to enjoy the mature

flavour of the traditions that the people have been responsible for preserving, generation after generation, to come together in this top-rated cultural event.

These are more than enough achievements for the Holy Week of Jerez de los Caballeros to have been named Holy Week of National Interest in 2015.

José Márquez Franco.