Almeria Travel Guide
Almeria’s most striking landmark is the Arab fortress, Alcazaba that stands on a hill overlooking the city. Dating back to the 10th century, this lavish monument was built by Caliph of Cordoba Abd-ar Rahman III and comprises of three great walled enclosures the second of which contains the remains of the sites original mosque, converted to a chapel by the Catholic kings. Unfortunately the area has been ravaged by earthquakes, which have rendered much of the interior somewhat lacklustre. Outwardly though it remains a truly impressive sight to behold.
At the heart of the old quarter stands the strange fortified Cathedral with its Renaissance façade and six Gothic towers that once held cannons. The cavernous interior is home to a wealth of priceless artwork including an eighteenth century tabernacle designed by Ventura Rodriguez, paintings by Alonso Canon, an ancient Andalusian altar piece made by Araoz and the statue of St. Indaletius, Almeria’s patron saint, sculpted by Saizillo.
Around the city there are numerous places of interest. The bizarre, almost lunar appearance of the landscape has made it a popular desert location for the movie industry. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here, as were a plethora of westerns including Fistful of Dollars, the set of which now stands as a popular tourist attraction. In nearby Los Milares there is a large archaeological site dating back to 1800BC that is believed to be Spain’s first metal works, and a crucial stepping-stone between the Stone and Bronze Ages. The year round clear skies make the area a favourite research centre for Astronomers and on the outskirts of the small town of Gergal, in the Sierra de los Filabres, there is the Hispano-German Astronomical centre where you’ll find the worlds most powerful telescope.
Also inland, in the surrounding desert lands are the famous troglodyte villages, towns in which many or most of the homes are caves dug into the soft, sand-coloured cliffs. The casas-cueva, as they are known, often have façades with windows and tiled roofs like conventional houses. The most interesting place to visit cave dwellings is in the region around Sante Fe de Modujar.
Like the rest of Spain, Almeria likes to celebrate and holds several festivals through the year including the nationally celebrated Carnival and Holy Week festivities. However the most important event on the calendar is the celebration of the Almeria Fair, which takes place during the last two weeks of August. As well as much drinking and dancing, the Fair holds various sporting events, religious acts and bullfights. Most of the celebrations take place in the numerous tent-like-pavilions pitched in the fairground.
If you’re after sea and sand you have come to the right place. East of the city is Cabo de Gata where you will find the most beautiful and least crowded beaches in the province. Here there is a wild almost undiscovered atmosphere. The sea is crystal clear and beaches are clean and quiet, remaining pleasant throughout the year.
As with most major resorts, Almeria has a good nightlife with a couple of dozen music bars and discos dotted around the centre. There’s plenty of choice in both atmosphere and music, from traditional family entertainment to all night dance music. The centre also has a reputation for good food with many fine seafood restaurants and tapas bars to be found around Tenor Iribarne. There are also many fashionable restaurants and cafes on Avenida de Fredrico Garcia, whilst a favourite spot for breakfast is Puerta de Purchena.
Almeria is only just emerging as a tourist area. Its growth is mainly due to families looking for somewhere relatively quiet and unspoiled to take their holidays. Consequently, even though it retains an air of pure Spain, there is still plenty to see and do for visitors of all ages.
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