Alcazaba of Almeria – Fortress in Almería
Alcazaba of Almeria – Fortress in Almería
The Alcazaba of Almería is located in a hill from which dominates the whole city and the bay. Its location has a clear strategic character. From its beginnings it has been the seat and the resedence of the representatives of the power. Inside, the buildins built in each era over six centuries where superimposed.
Its history is closely linked to the city of Almeria, which in Islamic times became one of the most important maritime commercial powers of the Mediterranean.
It arose in the IX century as the port of a city located in the interior, to about six kilometers of the coast, the city of Bayyana. In the middle of the X century was fortified and begins to use the term madina (city) to refer to her, the madam of Al-Mariyya. In this first moment the Alcazaba had already a configuration very similar to the present one.
During the X century Al-Mariyya will be the headquarters of the naval fleet on the caliphate of Cordoba, acquiring a great nautical development.
From this time we have numerous archaeological pieces recovered in the excavations carried out both in the city and in the Alcazaba.
In the XI century will take place the Fitna, phenomenon in which the Califato will be unmasked in numerous independent kingdoms, the so-called Realms of Taifa. Almeria will be the capital of one of them and its kings will build their palaces in the description that the Arab-al-Udri geographer made of his palace.
At the end of the XI century Almería will be integrated in the Almoravid empire. It will be a time of maximum splendor for the city, since it maintained intense commercial relations with al the points of the Mediterranean. It was known as the Puerta de Oriente, and through its port came products from the rest of al-Andalus, along with the local productions very appreciated at the time for their great quality.
Among these productions are silk fabrics, famous all over the world. 800 looms were registered in the city.
Another of the most outstanding productions were the funeral stelae epigraphized in Macael marble, whose quality and number is not found anywhere els in al-Andalus.
This is the city wall that best maintains its original shape, given that it has not under game modern restorations. It is located between the Baluarte del Saliente and the Muro de la Vela and along with the Jairan wall defended the Hoya ravine.
The wall is over 3 meters wide and 5 meters high. Each of the rectangular towers are built against it and communicate with one another through a stepped rampart. They are irregularly spaced and no higher than the wall. Research suggests that some original battlements feature a pyramid or low triangular skylight, and many have a small arrow slit splayed on the inside (a small opening used for shooting arrows that forms an oblique angle within).
This, like other defensive structures, was made with masonry and rammed earth, since this insulates it from the damp of the ground and also gives it greater stability.
Masonry is a technique consisting of worked stones that are arranged in horizontal lines and joined with a mixture of sand and lime. Meanwhile, the rammed-earth technique involves making a section at a time using planks assembled perpendicularly on wooden pins to create formwork. This is filled in, layer by layer, with a mortar made of sand, stone and lime. The rectangular holes on the surface of the wall are the marks of the wooden pins, after the wood has rotted.
The surface of the rammed earth tended to be covered with lime plaster. The incision marks on it indicate another layer added at a later date. The marks at on the north wall date to the 13th century.
The Andalusi homes are located in a space which is understood to have been for residential use and for services connected with the Palace of the Alcazaba and separated from it by a mighty wall.
In the 1970s the houses were reconstructed, based on remaining structures. The elevation of these houses is achieved by raising irregular masonry walls on Islamic layouts of rammed earth. Although the ancient structures were reused, the real shapes and the timeline of the walls were not taken into account.
PALACE´S PRIVATE BATH
Baths (hammamat) are a basic element in Muslims ´life, as the play a triple role: hygiene, ritual and convivial.
They are composed of several rooms with different temperature: cold room al-bayt al-barid, temperate room al-bayt al-wastani and warm room al-bayt al-sajun.
The air is heated in large boilers and it is distributed underground under the pavement of the different rooms.
This bath has kept its lower section that would correspond to the service area l(oven, boiler, whooshed).
IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE PALACES
From its origins the Alcazaba was the seat of the power, whose premises were located in the highest part of the fortress. Each leader rebuilt or changed the palace as he liked on the same area.
The archaeological contributions have provided evidence of the following stages, ones over the others.
The archaeological remains that you have in front of you come from:
On the right, the oldest remains preserved of this part, dated at the beginning of the eleventh century.
On the left, there is a higher level, the remains of a reservoir with boundary limits which you could walk at the same height of the top of the trees as the garden ground was in a lower place.
This landscaped was located in front of the building at the bottom, whose remains are known nowadays as Torre de la Odalisca (Odalisca tower).
This first enclosure, which is now occupied by gardens, was a residential area during the Middle Age. From this period we have evidences of the existence of streets, houses, cemeteries and water supply. We can highlight this hydraulic complex, which includes a well, a cistern and a fountain.
The well, whose water extraction was undertaken by a waterwheel, has a depth of 60 meters, and it is dug out into the living rock, and its three first meters are made of bricks and masonry.
The cistern would collect the rain water, which would be previously praised in a semicircular ground basin placed on the right side of the cistern. Clean water would be poured into this basin across a sewage pipe. When there was scarcity of water, they had to resort to the extracted one from the well.