Almería Province – Andalucía
Almería province lies next to the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, between the provinces of Granada and Murcia an thanks to its magnificent network of communications it is easily accessible both by air and sea (via the Airport and th city´s port) and by road (via the A-7, wich follows the coast from east to west and the A-92/A-92 N which connects it with the rest of Andalusia).
A land of contrasting landscapes, the benign climate and long summers characterised by pleasant temperatures and many hours of sunshine, undoubtedly make it the ideal place to enjoy its idyllic beaches to the full.
Areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Sierra Nevada, charming mountain villages with their own distinctive flavour, its wealth of monuments, the exquisite gastronomy, and a variety of possibilities for active toursm which ranges from golf to sailing or diving, make Almería a truly unique tourist destination.
Art and Culture
Almería province boasts a rich archaeological legacy which is the result of the numerous peoples who have left their imprint on this corner of Southern Europe over the centuries. Examples include the cave paintings of Los Vélez and the sites of Los Millares (Santa Fe de Mondújar) and El Argar (Antas). After the Phoenicians (who founded the ancient Adra or Abera) it was the Iberians, then the Romans and finallythe Muslims who were to land of Almeria´s coast. They turned the capital city into the main port of Al-Andalus and set out to construct numerous fortresses, watchtowers, aljibes (water cisterns) and monuments throughout the province, such as the Mosque of Fiñana and the Alcazaba in the city of Almería itself. The Castle of Vélez Blanco is one of the finest architectural jewels of this period.
The Christian conquest brought new European artistic styles which were used in the construction of numerous churches, shrines and convents. Civil architecture also thrived thanks to the patronage of the nobility and, especially from the 19th century onwards, a growing bourgeoisie. As a result the province boasts a wealth of mansions and palatial homes, whilst the booming mining industry created the typical industrial archaeological landscape of the Sierra de Gador or the Levantine coastline.
Throughout the Almería province there are numerous artistic centres for the production of handcrafts which range from traditional pottery and esparto work, to the famous pieces made with marble from Macael, a material which is exported throughout Europe and was even used in the construction of Granada´s Alhambra.
Pottery and ceramic workshops are to be found in twons like Vera, Níjar, Sorbas, Albox and Alhabia whilst the typical jarapas (colourful traditional blankets) which are woven on looms in Níjar, Berja and Laujar de Andarax are the most important textile products.
Alhama de Almería is home to a number of workshops creating stained glass windows and the province´s craftsmen also produce leather goods, wood carvings depicting religious images and figures made from red coral which is found on the Isla de Alobrán.
Festivals and Traditions
Fire, very much a Mediterranean element, is the central theme of many of the Almeria´s festivals, notably the traditional Noche de San Juan. Deeply rooted are the “Fiestas de Moros y Cristianos”, during which locals recreate ancient battles between Moors and Christians wearing spectacular costumes specially designed fro the occasion. Althought these fiestas are celebrated in many towns and villages of the eastern and western sides of the coast and inland areas, those held in Mojácar are particularly colourful. Also interesting are the Abén humya Morisco Games in Purchena, a festive event of a similar nature.
Almeria´s Feria, which is held in honour of the Virgen del Mar is one of the highlights of the summer season. During the 10 day event, various marquees are set up in the centre of the city where people can sample the local delicacies during the day, and then party moves to the main fereia area where there are many more marquees and the fasting and revelry goes on well into the night.
There are also a number of popular religious festivals such as pilgrimages or romerías, the Day of the Cross, the Día de la Vieja, the Jueves Lardero and the festivity dedicated to the Virgen del Carmen.
If there is one thing that characterises Almeria´s gastronomy, it is the rich variety of tapas. This way of sampling small dishes whilst going from bar to bar is particularly popular thanks to the warm mild climate.
Coastal areas share a culinary tradition based on the combination of fresh fish and shellfish (red porgy, grouper, pearly razor fish, john dory…) with a variety of vegetables and pulses. The most popular dishes include the moragas a variety of fish soups, marinated fish, rice and seafood dishes, and migas with sardines, among many others. All these culinary specialities are prepared with a range of exceptional olive oils produced in Almería and accompanied by the “Vinos de la Tierra”, a denomination which certifies the quality of the wines from the Desierto de Almería, Laujar-Alpujarra and Ribera de Andarax areas. Similarly the melva (bullet tuna) and mackerel landed in the city of Almería itself and in towns such as Adra, Garrucha and Roquetas de Mar have been awarded the “Melva de Andalucía” and “Caballa de Andalucía” denominations.
Inland areas offer a vast array of confectionery products with Morisco roots as well as traditional dishes based on centuries-old recipes such as gurullos, gachas, ajo colorao, olla de trigo and of course cured meat products.
Nature and Active Tourism
One of the most attractive features of the Almería province is the wide diversity of protected nature areas an its beautiful scenery. In addition to nature parks (Sierra Nevada, Cabo de Gata-Níjar and Sierra María-Los Vélez) the province boasts environmental treasures such as: the impressive Desert of Tabernas, the only desert on the European continent; the Sorbas Gypsum karstic area; and the reserves of Las Albuferas de Adra and Punta Entinas Sabinar.
Almeria´s coastline (214 km) is one of the most attractive destinations in Spain due to the great variety and quality of its beaches. Especially popular is the coastal strip on the Poniente or wester side, with numerous beaches which have been awarded the Blue Flag for their excellent facilities and safety (Roquetas de Mar, Adra, El Ejido…). Equally attractive is the eastern or Levante side (Vera, Garrucha and Carboneras) which is enhanced by a number of completely unspoilt beaches such as the Playa los Muertos, Cala Cristal or the Playazo de Vera (the latter including a stretch designated for naturists which attracts tourist from the whole of Europe) or the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Park, the most underdeveloped area of Almería, with its sandy virgin beaches and coves (Playa de los Genoveses, Cala de la Polacra, El Mónsul, Cala Media Luna…).
With such a great diversity of landscapes, it is hardly surprising that Almería has become a prime destination for active toursim. In addition to 8 marinas, and some of the best golf courses in Spain both in terms of design and location, the province offers beaches which are ideal for windsurfing such as San Miguel in El Ejido or Playa Serena in Roquetas de Mar, magnificent diving sites off the Cabo de Gata and potholing in areas such as the Sorbas Gysum karstic landscapes.
There are also plenty of possibilities for practising a whole range of other outdoor activities such as winter sports in the Sierra Nevada and the Puerto de la Ragua pass, aerial sports, walking, horse riding or mountain climbing in the Sierra María and mountain biking.
Almería Province Routes
Cabo de Gata-Níjar Route
This route features the city of Almería and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Park, a nature reserve of invaluable ecological importance with magnificent beaches (Las Negras, Cala de Enmedio, El Playazo…) and dramatic seabed locations which are ideal for diving.
This area which includes Benahadux, Gádor, Huércal de Almería, Níjar, Pechina, Rioja, Santa Fe de Mondújar, Viator and Almería itself, is the least developed and most unspoilt in the whole Almería Province.
The Almerian Alpujarras Route
This area situated between the Sierra Nevada and Sierra de Gádor is characterised by strikingly beautiful scenery and picturesque white villages with a strong Morisco flavour whose typical architecture is more similar in style to that of north African towns than the rest of Andalusia. It forms part of the National and Nature Park of Sierra Nevada and the Puerto de la Ragua pass.
The itinerary goes through the municipalities of Alboloduy, Alcolea, Alhabia, Alhama de Almería, Alicún, Almócita, Bentarique, Berja, Canjáyar, Dalías, Fondón, Huécija, Íllar, Instinción, Laujar de Andarax, Ohanes, Padules, Paterna del Río, Rágol and Santa Cruz de Marchena.
The Poniente Route
Of great archaeological interest, the Poniente area (Adra, Berja, Dalías, El Ejido, Enix, Felix, La Mojonera, Roquetas de Mar and Vícar) combines coastal places with the rural inland area of the Sierra de Gádor. On this route visitors can enjoy magnificent beaches and protected natural areas (Paraje Natural Punta Entinas-Sabinar, the Albuferas of Adra and the Posidonia Reef Barrier). The route´s attractions include modern golf facilities and marinas.
Filabres – Sierra Alhamilla – Río Nacimiento Route
Situated in the heart of the province, this route offers highly contrasting landscapes (fron the desert to snow capped mountains), traditional villages, a whole range of archaeological sites and impressive natural surroundings (Tabernas Desert, Sierra Nevada, Sierra Alhamilla and Sierra de los Filabres).
It is well worth seeing the unusual “western” villages of Tabernas wich have been used as the setting for numerous films. The area comprises the municipalities of Abla, Abrucena, Alcudia de Monteagud, Benitagla, Benizalón, Castro de Filabres, Fiñana, Gérgal, Las Tres Villas, Lucainena de las Torres, Nacimiento, Olula de Castro, Senés, Tabernas, Tahal, Turrillas, Uleila del Campo and Velefique.
The Levante Route
The stretch of coastline running from the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Park to the border with the province of Murcia offers wide sande beaches as well as semi hidden coves in tall cliffs which are ideal for naturism. This route will also take you through charming fishing villages and the fascinating Sorbas Gyspum karstic landscape whilst offering you the opportunity to practise various water sports or play golf.
The Almanzora Route
An inland area which is ideal for lovers of rural and nature tourism. This route offers the visitor the opportunity to see historic hillside villages, surrounded by springs and streams, whilst also enjoying natural areas such as the Sierra de los Filabres or the Sierra de las Estancias, both of which are ideal for walking and potholing.
Municipalities covered by the route include Albánchez, Albox, Alcóntar, Arboleas, Armuña de Almanzora, Bacares, Bayarque, Cantoria, Chercos, Cóbdar, Fines, Laroya, Líjar, Lúcar, Macael, Olula del Río, Serón, Sierro, Somontín, Suflí, Taberno, Tíjola, Urrácal and Zurgena.
The Los Vélez Route
This area, dominated by the Sierra-Los Vélez Nature Park and comprising the municipalities of Chirivel, María, Vélez Blanco and Vélez Rubio, contains numerous important archaeological sites including shelters and caves with cave paintings which have been declared a World Heritage Site. As well as hillside villages which are covered in snow during the winter, there are a number of towns and villages whose monumental buildings reflect their noble past.