General information

Located in the south of Spain, the capital of the province of Almeria has over 181,000 inhabitants. It is the city with the most hours of sunshine in all of Europe and the second in the world. In the winter the temperature of the water is warmer than the temperature of the air and the average temperature is 18,7º C. The economy of Almeria functions on income out of tourism and agriculture. Almeria is one of the most important agricultural areas of Europe and is also known as the “Orchard of Europe” Another notable fact about Almeria is that is has been used in countless movies like the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone in the 60s and 70s and Indiana Jones and the last crusade. The most important celebration in the city is the feria that takes place in August. The Holy Week in Almeria is also a big celebration, and is said to be one of the best in Andalucía.

History

The city has played an important role for many centuries, as port for the Iberians, Phoenicians and Carthaginian, but the city really came to flourish under Arab reign. Sultan Abd-ar-Rahman III decided to build a wall around the city, changing the aspect of the city. It became one of the most Islamic cities of the peninsula and it was, after Córdoba, the most influential and prosperous city of Al-Andalus. After the fall of the caliphate the city prospered even more as it became an independent kingdom. In this period the finest silk was produced and exported to the entire Arab world. The commercial activities of Almeria were known and famous throughout the entire medieval Western Europe. Besides the production of silk Almeria also was a fairly big slave trade market. Another source of income for traders was the sale of marble. In this period many pirates used Almeria as their home base for their raids and they gave the city a reputation that caused fear in its enemies. But in the year 1147 pope Eugenio III ordered a crusade against the city and he united the Christians from the north of Spain and France. They arrived and attacked the city from twelve different points and after a short but intense resistance the city fell and was looted. Many factories were destroyed and most riches disappeared in the pockets of the conquerors. In the following years the city was the scene of many battles between Arabs and Christians. After the final Reconquista in 1489 the city had lost most of its former influence and importance. A number of earthquakes almost completely leveled the city in 1522 and Almeria had to be rebuilt from scratch. From the 18th century on the economic and social conditions improved and progress was made with agriculture. The city grew until the beginning of the 20th century when new urban crises surfaced, due to WWI and the Spanish civil war, but starting in the 1950s new urban development caused the city to recuperate and flourish once again.

Monuments of Almería

The Alcazaba

This walled castle was built per orders of king Hakim in the 10th century and served as a defensive emplacement. Inside were defense towers, houses and a mosque. The alcazaba had three inner courts, each with their own function. The first court served as military encampment and refuge for citizens in case of an attack. The first and second court are separated by the Muro de la Vela, on which a bell tower was built that announced important events like fire, danger or a ship entering the bay. In the second court lived the governing class and their servants. This was also the court were the baths, shops and the mosque were located. The third court was built after the Reconquista and was ordered by the Catholic Kings. Nowadays various parts are completely ruined, but the majority of the alcazaba has been well conserved and can be visited.

The Cathedral

The archbishop of Almeria ordered the construction of the cathedral after the earthquake of 1522. It was designed by Diego de Siloé (who also designed the cathedral of Granada). It is built in the gothic style and designed as a fortress that served to defend the city. In the year 1564 the temple was finished. In the Baroque age the city suffered from pirate attacks and it was necessary to increase the defenses and new weapons were placed on the cathedral. Inside we can find an altar in baroque style and the chapel of Santo Cristo where we can find the grave of Diego Fernández de Villalán. It’s not your typical cathedral because of its fortress-like appearance and so it’s definitely worth a visit.

The Plaza de la Constitución

Originally a large square that served as a zone of bazaars and diners for Arabs. After the Reconquista it became a marketplace and the best known reference point, much like the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca. On this square we also find the town hall which was built at the end of the 19th century. In the centre of the square is a monumental column made of marble that is dedicated to the liberals who tried to bring down the absolutist regime of Fernando VII in 1824.

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