Palacio del Tiempo
In a town of wine, horses and flamenco, a museum about clocks is a welcome breath of fresh air. The Palacio del Tiempo (Time Palace) is housed in a beautiful 18th-century mansion set in extensive gardens, and is home to over 300 clocks from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries — the oldest dates back to 1670.
Visits are held every hour or so from 9.30am, though the 10.30 and 11.30 sessions are the most recommended — partly because they combine well with the opening hours of the nearby Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, and partly because it’s impressive to hear 300 clocks chime 11 and 12.
The museum is very well curated, the high ceilings and subdued paint tones setting off the intricate clocks. On the ground floor we saw three rooms of French clocks, which were like small statues of classical scenes in which the clocks mechanisms were almost an afterthought. The room of English clocks provided a contrast; here, the focus was certainly on the time and not on decoration.
A small chapel featured a cute light display which bought two 16th-century tapestries to light; an alcove housed stained glass windows and a 15th-century statue. Upstairs, we saw more clocks of various types, including a tiny jewel-encrusted Turkish one and a portable sundial or two. Our guide Marian explained their history and development as we admired the intricacy and workmanship.
Duration: 45 minutes
Hours: Monday-Friday 9.30, 10.30, 11.30, 12.30, 13.15
Address: Calle Cervantes 3, Jerez
More info: elmisteriodejerez.org
We passed through a room displaying 140 walking sticks, watched a holographic display of a watchmaker considering the problem of perpetual motion, then saw the machine in question — still working after 200 years. Very impressive!
Mystery of Jerez
Although we’d already visited several wineries during our time in Jerez and had a good idea about Sherry production, I was still looking forward to visiting the Mystery of Jerez, an audiovisual introduction to the history and process of making Sherry. It’s advertised in all the tourist maps and the website goes into detail about what you can expect to see. So it was a bit of a surprise when we showed up at the Museos de Atalaya complex and found out that it was closed. For good. Marian explained that visitor numbers were down because most visitors preferred to go to a winery than a wine museum (fair enough), and they’d decided to use the space for conferences and events. So, though you’ll see it advertised all over the place, don’t plan to visit the Mystery of Jerez while you’re here!
However, the Palacio del Tiempo is definitely worth a visit — and make sure you take a wander around the gardens before you leave.