A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

Sanlúcar Site of the Oldest Horse Race in Spain

With the setting sun as an idyllic backdrop, the beaches of Bajo de Guía, La Calzada and Las Piletas as unique race tracks, and swimming costumes as the main attire of the onlookers, the horse races of Sanlúcar de Barrameda are a must-see classic of summer in Cádiz. This horse-racing competition, designated an International Tourist Interest Event on account of its setting, with the Guadalquivir river mouth and the Doñana National Park in the background, is also one of the oldest competitions of any kind in the country, dating back to 1845. It now draws a crowd of around 30,000 visitors each year, eager to spend a lovely evening in which the horse races are the perfect excuse for soaking up the scenery, watching thoroughbreds in action and – needless to say – betting on the winning horses.

This year will see a total of 23 races, to be held from 3 to 19 August and divided into two cycles of three days each – the first, during the first half of August, on the 3rd, 4th and 5th, and the second, in the second half of the month, on the 17th, 18th and 19th. The races are run between six thirty in the evening and half past nine at night, a time when the low tides fall on weekends in August.

Manzanilla Sherry Cellars, Nature in the National Park and Much More

In addition to the spectacular summer horse races, Sanlúcar de Barrameda has a lot to offer visitors to the city, located on the mouth of the river Guadalquivir. This seafaring resort, a witness to Columbus as he embarked on his third voyage to the Americas, as well as Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano on their first circumnavigation of the world, still harbours signs of that period of splendour related to the discovery of the New World. Indeed, the city’s heyday accounts for much of its historical legacy, as attested by the 16th-century Church of Santo Domingo and the 17th-century Church of La Merced. There are also examples of earlier constructions, notably the Church  of Nuestra Señora de la O, with its spectacular Mudéjar coffered ceiling, and the 15th-century Ducal Palace of Los Medina Sidonia, the former residence of the nobility of Sanlúcar.

Sanlúcar’s importance is also enhanced by its proximity to the Doñana National Park, reached by boat from the city. This accounts for a large portion of the visitors who come here each year. The claim to fame of this priceless national park includes the fact it is one of the leading passage areas of migratory birds in Europe. Make a point of signing up for any of the host of excursions running from Sanlúcar to Doñana, which range from outings to observe the fauna and flora to bicycle tours of the area.

To offset so much nature, you always have the option to indulge in an enological tour of the manzanilla sherry cellars. Manzanilla is the wine par excellence of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where the leading wine cellars are Barbadillo, Hidalgo, Argüeso, and La Guita. By chance, the dish that best pairs with this variety of sherry is another classic of the area, the “langostinos de Sanlúcar” (Sanlúcar prawn).

Book your Vueling to Jerez de la Frontera, hardly half an hour’s drive from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and revel in these spectacular horse races.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Guillén Pérez