Almeria Tourist Attractions
Almería, chief town of the province of that name in southern Spain, was already an important Mediterranean port in Roman times (Portus Magnus), and was known to the Arabs as Al-Mariyya (''mirror of the sea''). It lies in the Gulf of Almería, which is enclosed on the west by the Sierra de Gádor (1,443m/4,734ft), on the northeast by the Sierra Alhamilla (1,359m/4,459ft) and on the southeast by Sierra de Gata (513m/1,683ft) and the cape of the same name. Above the town are two picturesque castles. The port handles a considerable export trade in fresh grapes, southern fruits and esparto grass, as well as iron ore and other minerals from mines in the hinterland. This trim town of whitewashed houses nestling amid subtropical vegetation is one of the leading centers on the stretch of coast, so popular with holidaymakers, whose bountiful climate (with an average of 320 days of sun in the year) has earned it the name of Costa del Sol, the Sunshine Coast.
Santiago el Viejo
The central feature of Almería, which is reminiscent of an eastern city with its Moorish-style houses, is the Puerta de Purchena, from which Calle de las Tiendas runs southwest to the 16th century church of Santiago el Viejo, with a 55m/180ft high Romanesque tower. The church, which was destroyed during the Civil War, is now a national monument.
Calle Lope de Vega leads to the Plaza Vieja, with the Almería Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), which preserves a banner presented to the town by the Catholic Monarchs.
To the south of the Almeria Town Hall is the Plaza de la Catedral, in which are the Bishop's Palace (Palacio Episcopal) and the Seminary. On the south side of the square is the cathedral, a fortress-like structure with four massive corner towers, a tower-like apse and battlements, rebuilt by Diego de Siloé between 1524 and 1543 after destruction in an earthquake. It has fine carved walnut choir-stalls by Juan de Orea (1558) and a statue of San Indalecio, the town's patron saint, by Salcillo. In the Capilla del Cristo de la Escucha is the tomb of the founder, Bishop Villalán.
On a hill to the west, dominating the town, is the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress which was built in the reign of Caliph Abderrahman III of Córdoba, enlarged by Almansor and completed by Hairan, and later extended by the Emperor Charles V. Particularly impressive is the massive 15th century keep, the Torre del Homenaje (Tower of Homage), with a Gothic doorway and the arms of the Catholic Monarchs. Concerts and dramatic performances are given here during the August fiesta.
Address: Calle Almanzor, E-04002 Almería, Spain
Opening hours: Jun 16 to Sep 30: 10am-2pm, 3pm-8:30pm
Oct 1 to Jun 15: 9am-6:30pm
Oct 1 to Jun 15: 9am-6:30pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Castillo de San Cristóbal
On the hill adjoining that of the Alcazaba in Almería , are the ruins of the Castillo de San Cristóbal, which is linked with the Alcazaba by a defensive wall.
Santuario de Santo Domingo
Between the Cathedral in Almería and the Paseo de Almería, in the Plaza de la Virgen, is the 17th century Santuario de Santo Domingo (restored), with a fine Baroque altar and an image of the Virgen del Mar, patroness of the town, which is said to have been found on the beach at Torre García in 1502.
In Almería, north of Santo Domingo, on the Glorieta de Sartorius, is the church of San Pedro, founded in 1494 on the site of a mosque. The present church, which dates from 1795, has frescoes by Fray Juan García in the dome.
On the far side of the Paseo de Almería, in Calle Javier Sanz, is the Archeological Museum, with four rooms displaying prehistoric material from the caves in the surrounding area and Iberian, Greek, Roman and Moorish antiquities.
The Alermia Airport is located 10km east of the city.
Northeast of Almería, reached by way of Carboneras, is the picturesque village of Mojácar (alt. 175m/574ft), known in Arabic as Murgis-akra, which still preserves Moorish traditions in its architecture and way of life.