April 7th, 2011
The translation of the name from the Arabic certainly seems to suit this most eastern capital of Andalucía. The visitor can also reflect from the hilltop Moorish Alcazaba (the second largest fortification after the Alhambra palace in Granada) and it’s large palm filled gardens, sweeping down to the bustling port and city centre below. The port manages to combine a ferry terminal, fishing port and marina. Also the castle sets the scene for one of the best views of the Barrio de la Chanca, or cave quarter carved into the rocks. Looking down over the wall of Jayrán you might be surprised to see zebra and ostrich strolling around, this is the Centre for Rescue of Animals of the Sahara, nothing to do with that wine at lunchtime!
Reached by the A7 Mediterranean highway by road, and with sea links to Melilla, Algeria and Morocco, Almería is also home to a small but busy Airport which has both domestic and international links, and is also served by the usual budget airlines. Once in town the bus station is on Plaza Barcelona, and for RENFE train station head a block away from there to Ctra Ronda, both easy walking distance from the city centre.
Worth noting is the fact that this is the only city in Europe with a Mediterranean-arid climate, providing hot summers and warm winters caressed a by north African breeze. Not just the scene for Spaghetti westerns of the 1960′s, set in Tabernas desert, or the wonderful Cabo de Gata the city itself has an inimitable charm and a definite Arab feel today, provided by the temperatures and interesting architecture. So there’s plenty to see and do in the province but Almería itself is a lively busy place to spend a day exploring on foot…
The roots of the city are embedded in an eclectic mix of Phoenicians, Carthaginians and of course the Moors, visible in landmarks today such as the Cathedral – a mix of Gothic and Renaissance where the corner towers once held cannons! The museum is worth a look and is filled with finds from the Alcazaba, telling a story of the history of the area. Don’t forget to make time for a visit to the church of Santiago el Viejo built in 1559, situated on Calle de las Tiendas just off the Puerta de Purchena.
Walk on by…
Rambla de Belen is the main street that divides the city, packed with fountains and tranquil palm filled parks. Restaurants abound, catering for all budgets and tastes, also bear in mind the busy fishing port and try the locally caught bounty, you won’t be disappointed! After some evening shopping on Calle de las Tiendas, enjoy a cold beer and some people watching, while the sun slips down over the sea and beyond to North Africa and another continent….