Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The Campo de Guía

The Campo de Guía is a central district of El Puerto de Santa María where most of the bodegas, though not all, have been traditionally located. It runs approximately from the bull ring (a later building, completed in 1880) down a gentle slope towards the river Guadalete between the streets of Los Moros and Valdés. This area was once closer to the open sea than it is now and provided good access for loading ships at the quayside.

The Ermita Nuestra Senora de la Guia is No.1 on far left in this early XVIII C engraving (foto:entornoajerez)

The land occupied by the Campo de Guía is named after the long disappeared hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Guía, (Our Lady of Guidance) a patron saint of seafarers, which was situated near the waterfront on the site of what is now Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosía (built in 1838). The old plan from 1755 shows parkland planted with poplar trees where the cavalry could practice, and at top right the Ermita itself. The other buildings are the houses of local aristocracy and wealthy merchants, or cargadores a Indias as many were known. One of the grand houses belonged to William Terry. In that same year the area was hit by the tsunami resulting from the Lisbon earthquake and the old Hermitage was destroyed.

XVIII C tinted engraving showing land before building. Ermita is top right (foto:gentedelpuerto)

During the last third of the XVIII century plans were drawn up to redevelop this area into a sort of industrial estate for bodegas and, unlike Jerez where bodega construction was more random and where the council encouraged building outside the city walls, in El Puerto the precinct was very much planned. This was mainly due to conflicts between the wealthy people who owned the land and the council had to take control.

Aerial view of the area in the 1940s. Gutierrez Colosia top right (foto:gentedelpuerto)

This was the dawn of the age of the “cathedral bodegas”, the large airy buildings we know and love today, and they were endowed with patios and cooperages. Two well -known architects were responsible for much of the design; Torcuato José Benjumeda and Juan Daura, and the result of their work was a district with a degree of uniformity yet much personality. The classic bodega colours were used: green for the blinds, railings and doors; white for the walls and calamocha (yellow ochre) for skirtings and façade features.

Many look like this. Osborne's Bodega La Vieja now restored into restaurant/bar. (foto:cuartodemaravillas)

It was not until the late 1830s that the work was completed thanks to various wars in which Spain was involved. During this period the American colonies were mostly lost and many who had made a fortune there returned, seeing the Sherry business as a new way to make money.

This old bodega is now Bodegas El Cortijo used for weddings, celebrations etc.

Many handsome bodegas can still be seen in the Campo de Guía area but they are not all any longer full of Sherry. Some have gone, replaced by housing or used for other kinds of business, and some are left empty and likely to fall prey to speculative builders – a few already have. Luckily there are local people who are looking out for the protection of local patrimony but it can be difficult to find other uses for these buildings. One however, which once belonged to Manuel Moreno de Mora, in Calle Los Moros, now houses the city archive.

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