The horse racing in Sanlúcar de Barrameda They are the oldest English-style in Spain, since they have been held since 1845. Previously, others had been developed in Madrid's Alameda de Osuna, but they disappeared very soon.
Currently, they are part of the Spanish equestrian circuit of this discipline together with those of Seville (here we leave you an article about this city), San Sebastián, Mijas and Dos Hermanas. In addition, the horse races in Sanlúcar are classified as Festival of Andalusian, National and International Tourist Interest. But, if you want to attend them, it is interesting that you know them better. And, for this, we encourage you to continue reading this article.
Table of Contents
- 1 Sanlúcar horse races: A little history
- 2 How are horse races in Sanlúcar de Barrameda?
- 3 Sanlúcar horse races as an excuse to get to know the area
Sanlúcar horse races: A little history
An old and beautiful legend tells that Phoebos, Roman god of the sun, and his fire horses, after heating the earth, used to rest on the beach of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Logically, this has nothing to do with the origin of the famous horse races. But it does give us an idea of the importance that equines have always had in the province of Cádiz.
As if that were not enough, in the first half of the XNUMXth century, many natives of the area went into exile in England because of their liberal ideas. There they had the opportunity to attend the thoroughbred horse races that were held and were fascinated by them.
According to some sources, when they returned to their homeland, they wanted to emulate them and thus the races of Sanlúcar would be born. However, others indicate that the origin of this event is in the equine competitions that the merchants of the area did while they waited for the fishing boats to arrive. And even that it would be the fishermen themselves who would make races to decide which of them would be the first to sell their catch.
Be that as it may, in 1845 the Horse Racing Society of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. On August 31 of that same year he organized the first equine competition in order to promote the magnificent Andalusian horse breed. Since then and with few exceptions, these races have been held.
How are horse races in Sanlúcar de Barrameda?
The great uniqueness of this competition is that use the beach as a racetrack. The low tide is used to develop the different races in order for the horses to take advantage of the wet sand, harder and firmer for their legs.
Specifically, equines gallop along the beaches of Bajo Guía, Las Calzadas and Las Piletas. In the latter is the goal of some races that, in the longer and more demanding tests, reach two kilometers. Therefore, if you dare to be one more spectator, you will have the option of watching the horses pass by your side.
You can also go to the enclosure where the animals carry out their training, are weighed and their mounts are prepared. Also, you have the possibility to place bets on which will be the winning horse.
However, another of the great attractions of horse racing in Sanlúcar is that they combine the excitement of equestrian events with a privileged natural environment. In addition to the sea, in the foreground you will see the mouth of the Guadalquivir River and, as a backdrop, the picture of the Doñana Natural Park, which we will talk about. As if that were not enough, at the end of the tests, dusk falls over the area, giving rise to a spectacular orange sky.
In addition, in the arrival area, they are installed fair booths. As a curiosity, we will tell you that many of them are made by the children of the area and in them you can bet small amounts of money (two euros, at most), but also sweets and gum. All this to defray the prize that one of them receives each year.
In total, the horse races in Sanlúcar include more than twenty tests that distribute an amount greater than the one hundred and fifty thousand euros in prizes.
When do these races take place?
Competitions take place in August. They are carried out in two batches of three days, the first in the first fifteen of the month and the second in the last fifteen. There are no fixed dates because they depend on low tide. Logically, this leaves more space for both horses and spectators. And it is that, in the races of Sanlúcar not only professional riders participate, but also amateurs.
As for the hours, they usually start around half past six in the afternoon and they continue until well into the evening. For this reason and due to the good temperatures, it is not uncommon to see spectators who take advantage of their stay on the beach to enjoy the competition.
Sanlúcar horse races as an excuse to get to know the area
In addition to being interesting, the horse races in Sanlúcar are a perfect excuse for you to get to know the area, one of the most beautiful in Spain. Therefore, we are going to show you some of the places of interest that you can find.
At the foot of the town of Sanlúcar begins the Doñana National and Natural Park, considered the largest ecological reserve in Europe and declared Heritage by UNESCO. Its marshes, dunes and stabilized sands serve as a refuge for a multitude of plant and animal species.
Among the former, the stone pine, acacia, oleander or cork oak stand out. Regarding the latter, Doñana is a stopover and stopover area for numerous birds that rest on their lands during their trip to Africa.
Castle of Santiago
Along with the natural wonder that we have just mentioned, you have in Sanlúcar a spectacular monumental heritage. In this, the castle of Santiago stands out, a late Gothic jewel built in the XNUMXth century by the Duke of Medina Sidonia.
It has a quadrangular structure, with towers and barbcans around a parade ground located in the center. One of the doors that connects the main square with the northern barbican will also attract your attention for its exquisite sculptural work.
Church of Our Lady of the O
Likewise, it is part of the monumental heritage of Sanlúcar, declared Historic Artistic Set, the church of Nuestra Señora de la O. In Mudejar style, it was built in the XNUMXth century and stands out for its flared arch portal with archivolts and sculptural decoration.
Inside, you must visit the chapel of San Sebastián, with an impressive Plateresque façade and a spectacular Mannerist panel from the Portuguese Basque Pereira. Likewise, there is a painting from the Flemish school from the XNUMXth century that represents the Descent of Christ.
Palace of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia
This marvel of whitewashed walls was built in the XNUMXth century following the canons of the Renaissance style. It is located next to the church that we have just mentioned and is Historic Artistic Monument 1978 since.
It also houses an important art collection owned by the ducal house that includes paintings of Zurbaran, Murillo y Goya, as well as a wide collection of Flemish tapestries. You can also stay in it, since a part has been dedicated to hostelry.
Palace of the infants of Orleans
If the former palace is beautiful, the one of the infants of Orleans stands out even more. It was built according to the principles of the historicist and eclectic style of the XNUMXth century. For this reason, its Mudejar and oriental elements combined with classical forms stand out.
Baptized by some experts as an "architectural whim" of the duke of Montpensier, It also has beautiful English-style gardens whose design was carried out by Lecolant.
Along with everything we have shown you, perhaps the most curious monument in Sanlúcar de Barrameda are the Covachas. It is a porticoed gallery o Loggia It is made up of thirteen pointed arches on which serpents or basilisks are engraved.
This old Gothic-style merchants' market was built at the end of the XNUMXth century and is attached to the palace of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia.
Church of Our Lady of Mercy
This beautiful temple was built in the early seventeenth century as part of the Recoletos Descalzos convent of Our Lady of Mercy. It is a Mannerist-style marvel that was restored at the end of the XNUMXth century and is currently used as a municipal auditorium. It is precisely in her that the Sanlúcar de Barrameda International Music Festival.
Basilica of Charity
Built at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, it is also Mannerist and has a Latin cross plan with a single nave and chapels that open onto it. Inside, the altarpiece stands out and the image of Our Lady of Charity Crowned, patron saint of Sanlúcar.
Other monuments of Sanlúcar
So rich is the monumental heritage of the Andalusian town that it is impossible for us to tell you about all of it. However, in addition to the previous buildings, we advise you to take advantage of your trip to see the Sanlúcar horse races and also visit the castle of the holy spirit, bastion of San Salvador, Church of Our Lady of the Forsaken the archaeological zone of Ebora or the Arizón house.
In conclusion, the horse racing in Sanlúcar de Barrameda They are a magnificent show that we advise you to see. But, in addition, we recommend that you take advantage of your trip to enjoy the beautiful beaches of the area and, above all, to visit the wonderful places of Doñana and the no less beautiful monuments that the town of Cadiz offers you. And, if you want to know this province better, here we leave you an article about other of its towns.