Sunday Market – Jerez

Jerez is located in the southern tip of Spain in Andalucia 15 minutes from the sea.  One hour from Seville, the city is known for horses, flamenco, and sherry.  Robin Graham,  The Spain Scoop’s guest writer and expert on southern Spain,  offers an insider’s take on shopping in Jerez at a flea market.  We all love a bargain!

By Robin Graham

Wherever you are in Andalucia, there’s no getting away from history. It raises it’s crowned head on every other hilltop in the form of a turreted castillo, in every bar where the outlines of Mediterranean flavour are coloured in with eastern spice, in the notes and scales of the alegrias and bulerias; that dizzy brew of Indian, Arabian, Jewish and Gypsy musical traditions that is flamenco. It’s in the names of places and of people, in the many still-used Arabic words, in the olive groves, the oranges and in the vines.

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Even in a region so drenched in tradition, however, some places manage to stand out. As the winter sun shines redly and casts long shadows on the dust – diagonal lines from tree to tree across the sandy square – there can´t be many places as caught up in the past as the leafy little park beneath the walls of the Alcazar in Jerez de la Frontera, on a Sunday morning.

The Alcazar itself was put here in its current form in the 12th century by the Almohads – then rulers of southern Spain. It very effectively does what every other Moorish edifice in this part of the world does, by invoking the centuries long episode in this country’s history when the House of Islam had a foothold on European soil, and the cocktail of empire, learning and faith that was to help define Europe and, eventually, the Enlightenment.

Every Sunday though, it’s upstaged by the market in its shadow. We wander amongst old VHS cassettes, batteries of all kinds, antique typewriters and dismembered dolls. The place is busy as the strollers and bargain hunters of Jerez check out hat stands, crockery, crystal glass, and clocks.

At one stall I happen upon an early twentieth century edition of the Arabian Nights with original illustrations, in English. The price is way beyond me but it’s a pleasure to behold. I put it down reluctantly and we saunter towards something more downmarket. We find ourselves sifting through old postcards – excited Spaniards writing from London in the fifties – and personal documents from long gone households; receipts, employment contracts, school reports.

I buy something I can afford – an old board game without pieces that I will frame and hang. These are fragments of fairly recent lives; their grandchildren might be here today, shopping for plates or paintings or second-hand spectacles. In the shade cast by the Alcazar, history’s lens is bifocal this morning, taking in the long view, and the short.

What do you like to buy in the markets?

Related Spain Scoop:  Learn more about Robin Graham in our interview.   Regina has The Scoop on a flamenco festival in Jerez.

 Robin Graham, writer extroidnaire lives  in Tarifa.  He writes about places and experiences in Spain, some as he says,  “made up,”  perfect for his site name:   His writing is well crafted and at times,  when I plan to spend three minutes on his blog, I read and read and read. He transports me to the people and places with his  insightful descriptions.   Robin’s graphics are unusual and rare as is his photography. We are proud to have Robin as a guest writer for The Spain Scoop. 

4 Responses

  1. Jade says:

    I stumbled upon a few markets in the Costa Brava area when I was there last week. Loved walking around, the fresh fruit (the tomatoes were huge) and seeing some foods and unique fare I had never seen before.

    We have a market similar to this is LA, and I always snap up an old postard from aomewhere Ive been. Fun to see the place from another point of view.
    Great post, Robin!

  2. admin says:

    Lovee checking out markets. It’s worth it to get the market dates from the tourist info office to make sure not to miss them!

  3. I love European markets, especially for the clothes. My favourite is finding some local designer, with some truly unique and inexpensive garment.

  4. admin says:

    totally agree, i’ve found some steals at markets!

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