Travel Guide to Almería

Viewpoint to the Mediterranean

The great port of Caliphate, sorrounded by mountains, is the city in Europe with the greatest number of sunlight hours. This has facilitated the development of an extensive agriculture activity. Also, the city counts with an excellent mediterranean gastronomy. It is the perfect destination for beach enthusiasts, being able to swim all year round. Furthermore, they have a fascinating archeological heritage.

Plan your trip to Almería

In addition to the numerous amount of beaches, Almería has a rich archeological heritage, both architectural and sculpturistic. To satisfy the needs of history enthusiasts: The Cable Inglés, the great Archeological Museum, the Almería Cathedral and the monumental Alcazaba. The journey of the Travel Guide of Almería can take up an entire weekend. 

A few kilometers from the city you can find Níjar and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park. This is one of the most active tourism places in the province of Almería, but probably not the only one. Furthermore, part of travel guide to Almería, adjacent is the coastal city of Roquetas de Mar. Here, you can travel north on highway A92 and explore the breathtaking view of the Tabernas Desert. This wonderful city offers splendid gastronomy, taking the leading roles in this area are la Caballa and la Melva de Andalucía as a result, both with I.G.P.

The best accomodations and restaurants are in the pages about where to Sleep and Eat in Almería. Even more, do not miss this great travel guide of the city.

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A name with a lot of history

In the travel guide to Almería, reviewing history is key. Its name, Al-Miraya, means viewpoint or lookout tower. It was re-casted and walled in the year 995 by Caliph Abd al-Rahman III. Situated in the place where the Urci population settled in the Iberian times, and the Portus Magnus during the Roman Empire.

The place was, during the Caliph of Cordoba, the second city in the peninsula and the main port with 300 self-owned ships.  The fleet admiral, second after the caliph, resided in Almería. Ibn Maymun was poisoned by the Almanzor leader due to envy of his power.

Upon forces against the zone, once the caliph disolved, the splendor continues. In hands of Almotacín (11th century), Almería was a great commercial and cultural center. Proof of this is that the population had fifteen gates. Furthermore,  the urban framework consisted of an authentic labyrinth with a surface close to a million square meters. At the time, there were up to 10.000 textile mills that exported to the arabic world.

The crusade

Christian medievals text, such as Romance del Conde Arnaldo, or Las Serranillas del Marqués de Santillana, talked about its splendor. Pope Eugene III promoted a crusade against the city of Almería. The most relevant personalities of that time attended this gathering, such as: Count Ramón de Berenguer of Barcelona, the kings Alfonso VII of Castile and García Ramírez IV of Navarre and Álava, as well as the great duke Guillermo VI of Montpellier. Due to trade rivalry, the genovean and pisians supported with their fleets.

In 1147 their barriers were raided. Up to 20.000 soldiers defended the fort. The majority died in the hands of the army of Alfonso VII, nicknamed “The small Sultan” by the locals. Once the city was taken over, the looting of the enormous amount of riches followed.

Among the most important treasures was the Sacro Catino, a great fountain of emeralds in which based upon tradition, it is where Jesus Christ served the lamb in the Last Supper. The Spanish monarchy even took parts of the large mosque of Almería to the monastery of las Huelgas Reales, in Burgos. The rich leather fasteners and the bronze from the Pechina gates were taken apart by the Count of Barcelona, which took them to the University of Barcelona.

foto antigua Vista desde la Alcazaba / Hauser y Menet en Almería
Views from the Alcazaba / Hauser y Menet

A decade later the city was reclaimed by the Almohads, but they were not able to bring back its previous splendor. In 1309 King James II of Aragón tries to conquest Almería again, he was unsucessful. His position between the Murcia Christians and the Granada Arabs, positioned him in a strategic enclave being the front of confrontation.

Crown of Castile

Finally, in 1489, it is passed to the Crown of Castile, which marks the start of the decline of Almería. During this time the population suffered the devastating effects of the plagues, along with the continuous arrival of Argelinan pirates. Furthermore, they lived through earthquakes such as the ones in 1518 and 1522 which ended with almost all of the population and with the arab construction. The city finally sees their economy reacivate at the end of the XIX century. Thanks to the exploitation of the resources from the iron and lead miners, along with export of the Ohanes grape.

Civil War

During the Civil War, May 29, 1937, republican air bombers piloted by Russians mistakenly attacked the German battleship, Deutschland. This led to 31 dead and 74 injured. On the dawn of May 31st, by Hitler´s order, the armored Admiral Scheer and four other soldiers carried out more than two hundred shots against Almería. The result were 19 dead, 55 injured, and 35 buildings destroyed. Among the fallen buildings were the cathedral, the San Sebastian Church, and the municipal council.

During the sixties of the XX century, starts up the development of the province, based on the extensive agriculture, tourism, construction, and marble.

Alcazaba

The travel guide to Almería starts in the Alcazaba (X-XV). This has to do with the second greatest Arab fortification on the peninsula, with 1430 meters of a fortified perimeter. Started by the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III, a factory that has two parts. One part Arab and one Christian. The visit includes the parade ground, garden zones, the royal resort, towers, and the state house.

Between the remains of the Almotacín Palace you can find the Mirador de la Odalisca. This was the stage to a love story between a Christian prisoner and Rey Moro´s favorite slave. If you want to know Almería in full depth, you can not leave without learning about this story. Coming down from the Alcazaba, is a line of walls, named The Jayrán by the king who built them up in the XI century. The walls go up to the San Cristóbal hill, a spectacular lookout where you can find an image of the Sacred Heart (XX c.) built of stone. One of the most beautiful views in Almería and an important part to our travel guide to Almería.

Different cultures

In the Nicolás Salmerón Plaza you can find a Center of Interpretation for the Arab Walls. The environment of the ancient Medina, begins in the street of La Reina and reaches Del Mar Avenue. The area known as Pescadería-La Chanca was the district of aljibe, visited by fishermen, sailors, and merchants. This is where La Juderia was located. Most importantly, you can get a fantastic view from the Greppi ravine and the Hambre hill.

In the present street of Tenor Iribarne, there are three conserved ships that made up the Arab Aljibes of Almería. These were built from bricks and barrel vaults. In the  Manuel Pérez García plaza you can find Puerta de Purchena, the most distinguished gate in Almería.

Alcazaba de Almería
Alcazaba

Religious buildings

The San Juan Church was ordered to be built by the Catholic Monarchs on the land of the main Mosque. This was the first Cathedral in the city. The 1522 earthquake made the new church dissapear. It was rebuilt in the 17th century by Bishop Portocarrero, who we can now thank for the present facade. Years later, it was abandoned due to the 1937 bombings. Now restored, traces of the quibla and mihrab from the first mosque can be recognized.

Next on our travel guide to Almería, the Cathedral-Fortress of La Encarnación was built upon the 1522 earthquake. It would have an additional function as a refuge for the neighborhhood during the pirate attacks. The present gothic facade has a hall floor plan. The sacristy is emphazised, along with the choir chairs. In the 18th century, Ventura Rodríguez drawed the cloister. This is the best one from the neoclassic period among all the Spanish cathedrals. It can be found in the Catedral plaza, the Episcopal Palace (19th century). In the neighboring street, Cubo, peeks out a tower of the Cathedral. From that tower you can see the significant Sol de Portocarrero. This is one of the symbols of Almería.

Close to the cathedral cloister is the neoclassic Parish Church of San Pedro (18th-19th century), which includes the chapel of a Fransican convent of the 16th century. The present tower is from the 20th century, one of the most interesting parts to see in Almería.

Cathedral-Fortress of La Encarnación

The San Sebastián Plaza is another must-see in Almería. A mosque that was located here, was replaced by a shrine that in the 17th century turned into a Parish Church. The facade is the work of Ventura Rodríguez, one of the artists with the most presence in Almería.

In the very center of the gothic district of Almería, you can find the Sanctuary-Church of La Virgen del Mar, in charge of the dominicans. The image of the patron saint of the city was found next to a watch tower in the Torregarcia beaches in 1502. The church, with an urban front was founded in the 19th century, suffered great damage during the Civil War.

Furthermore, the Puras Convent was founded in the 16th century over ancient Arab houses. A result of several reforms and expansions, offers elements of diverse styles, from the Mudejars to the Baroque. These are the most relevant in the travel guide to Almería, the church, cloister, and access zone from Cervantes street. Most notorious is the temple built in the 18th century.

The Royal Monastery of Santa Clara (18th century), situated in the centric Jovellanos street, suffered the effects of the confiscation and the Civil War. An area that most sticks out is the main front that is dominated by the image of Santa Clara, one of the most beautiful images to see in Almería. On the other hand, the Parish of Santiago was built in the street Las Tiendas in the 16th century. It was started in a mudejar style and now has a renassaince one, since one part was destroyed in the Civil War.

In the ancient Muslim district of Ajibe, you can find the eclectic Parish Church of San Roque (1893), preceded by a monumental staircase. Funded in the 1500s over remains of an ancient mosque. It had to be rebuilt after a bombing during the Civil War. The Royal Hospital of Santa María Magdalena (16th century), stands out for a neoclassic cover (1778).

Casa de las Mariposas Jose Angel Astor Rocha / Shutterstock.com

Places and important squares

The place, formerly occupied by the zoco, is known as Plaza Vieja or Plaza de la Constitución. An arcaded joint, built in the 19th century, that hosted bullfighting. In the center there is a Corinthian marble column that reaches almost 18 and a half meters tall. Known as “Pingurucho de los coloraos”, a tribute to liberals that defended reform along Ferdinand VII. The plaza is presided by the town hall, from the end of the 19th century.

On the travel guide, one important building in Almería is Palacio de los Marqueses de Torre Alta (19th century). Located in Plaza Careaga. As well as, Palacio de los Marqueses de Cabra (18th century), the Municipal Archive and the Palacio de los Vizcondes del Castillo de Almansa (18th-19th century). This last one has a facade facing Campomanes street, next to the Historic Provincial Archive. In Navarro Rodrigo street you can find the Council, along with a patio de luces.

The bourgeoisie city epicenter in Paseo Almería marks the difference between the historic fragments and the expansion. The moment the century changes, Casa de las Mariposas, inhabited by the Ripoll family is rebuilt. In 1921 the Teatro Cervantes was inagurated, with its wide half-point arches and modern elements.

Coast

In the periods between centuries the so-called Cable Inglés (1902), a mineral carrier located in the Almadrabillas beach. This united the beautiful Train Station (19th century) to the port. This is a masterpiece of the steel architecture. From the same time and esthetic, you can find the Central Market of Almeria. The main facade shows off the representation of a fememnine figure with a fruit basket, this symbolizes abundance. It is one you can not miss on the travel guide to Almería.

In the Club de Mar Marina, following our travel guide to Almería, we can see the Faluca Almariya. This is a replica of a muslim medieval boat, located next to the Almadrabillas beach.

Lastly on our travel guide to Almería, The Archological Museum of Almería. Important collections from Prehistoric and Muslim periods are hosted here. The Cortijo Romero, known as the House of Movies, was built in the XIX century. Famous Beatle John Lennon stayed here for a period of time, in 1966 when filming the movie How I Won the War.

Cable inglés de Almería
Cable Inglés, Almería

Must see

Ayuntamiento de Almería
Almería Town Hall
Tabernas Desert

Useful Information

Coordinates

36° 50′ 0″ N, 2° 27′ 0″ W

Distances

Sevilla 407 km, Madrid 545 km.

Parking

Many permited parking places in the urban zones. Parking zones in the center of the city, (Aparcamiento Público San Ildefonso, Santiago street, or Parking Almericentro, General Tamayo street).

Altitude

23 m.

Population

191 443 (2012).

The following are the greatest festivities to look out for in Almería: Romería a Torregarcía (the second Sunday of the year in the place where the Lady of the Sea appeared, Headwoman of Almería in 1502), Carnavales, Semana Santa, Cruces de Mayo, The Night of San Juan (June 23rd), Virgen del Carmen (July 16th), Ferias and Fiestas in Honor of the Lady of the Sea (the second biweek of August).

Events to look out for in Almería: Almería International Dance Contest  (July), Flamenco Festival (August), Lady of the Sea Feria Taurina ,Folklore fest Pueblos Ibéricos & Mediterranean (August). Along with, Pendón Day (San Esteban, December 26th, honoring  the conquer  by the Catholic Kings in 1489).

Ceramic, Plaster, Carton, Algae, and Sea Shells.


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