Carboneras, Cabo de Gata Níjar Natural Park
Carboneras is located in the Levantine coast of Almería, with a landscape with arid, semidesert and volcanic lands included in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, first land-maritime nature reserve in Andalucía that has extraordinary spaces and landscapes: the only mountains with volcanic origin in the peninsula; the coastal strip with its dunes, beaches and salt pans, a real natural sight; and finally the mile of protected sea whose bottoms are very important. The municipality limits with Los Gallardos, Mojácar y Níjar
In this environment it is located the town, whose origin is found in the construction of the Castle of S. Andrés for military use in the XVI century. It is a white and light group of gathered houses next to the blue sea; a perfect place to enjoy the sun and the beach, the tranquillity and an excellent climate.
The existence of Carboneras like inhabited place took place in the XVII century as a result of the construction of the Castle of San Andrés and the distribution of arable lands to the soldiers, as well as the creation of a tunny fishery. All on Marquis de Carpio Diego Lope de Haro y Sotomayor’s initiative, as a result of the constant actions of the Berber pirates and the Turks over the territory of its sovereignty, and that caused many damages, like the famous plundering of Cuevas by the pirate El Doghali after covering the entire region.
We know about the occupation of the coastline because of the security guards in the Powers and watchtowers of the coast, who from the Nasrid age exercise their duties, continuing from the conquest by the Catholic Monarchs with better or worse fortune. But the isolation of the area and the risks of the service made unviable a minimum human occupation; in fact the neglect of these establishments was a constant feature. This fact expressed the need for bringing together a group of military forces with strength under the protection of a efficient system of defence; in this way it emerges the idea of the raising of the Castle San Andrés, a plan that was passed by the king Felipe II in royal document October 11, 1583, confirmed years later, but carried out in 1602, undertaken the definitive building works in 1621. From 1688, the Castillo belongs to Casa de Alba that it looks after equipping, appointing a jailer and paying him. Grima (1993) points out that «it can be stated categorically that Carboneras starts to turn off the walls of its castle and to grow from the first years of the XVIII century».
Indeed, the security of the Spanish coast in that time is a reality.
Consequence of this situation, the settlement is more intense at the same time starts a new stage of general expansion of the economy and the town.
In 1752, when it was carried out the Catastro de Ensenada, the castle of Carboneras had a permanent garrison of 25 soldiers. An officer, a sergeant, two corporals, a drummer and 24 constables of El Cuerpo de Inválidos de Artillería.
In 1776 it was ordered to build a new castle in Mesa Roldán that together with the Powers gave the area more security, what allowed a greater economic prosperity in the diagram of the natural limitations and opportunities. The exploitation of the barrilla, the esparto grass and the fishing, together with the traditional agriculture, were the economic basis.
In June 1, 1813, Carboneras set up in independent town council; that was not yet the fifth neighbourhood of Sorbas.
Around the middle of the XIX century, the Geographic-Statistical Dictionary of Madoz says us that it has 300 houses and 1.800 inhabitants, a square, streets with good floor and, town hall and prison, as well as the castle with a governor and 27 servants. We have to emphasize the fishing like economic activity, to which is dedicated eight laudes with arts of trawling and three paternoster lines with more or less 200 people and some kids. In 1860 the directory of names points out that Carboneras has 383 houses and population of 2.702 people, 1.700 live in the centre and the rest distributed in 36 groups, farmhouses and mills, being the most populated Los Llanos de D. Antonio, Argamasón and el Saltador.
In 1900, Carboneras has 23 buildings with two floors from what 1.170 are listed and a population of 4.706 people, that ten years later it will have6.035 inhabitants. From here the emigration starts to appear, the loss of economic opportunities is clear; until 1981 there is no the same population that in the twenties.
In 1970 means the lowest inflection point, with only 5.011 inhabitants, many centres of population have disappears, the directory of names of 1960 only shows 16 inhabited groups. Nowadays, the considerate population centres are: El Argamasón, El Cañarico, Carboneras, La Cueva del Pájaro, La Islica, Los Llanos de Don Antonio, El Saltador Alto and El Saltador Bajo, that are all in all the ones more inhabited throughout all its history.
Carboneras Monuments / What to visit
San Andres Castle, XVI century. It was built by the Marquis Carpio.
Casa del Laberinto, 1964. Built by André Bloc.
Watchtower of El Rayo, Nasrid Age.
Casas Señoriales, XIX century.
Mesa de Roldán, XVIII century. It is located in a lighthouse and a fort tower.
Windmill and Interpretation Center
It´s the only windmill of the Almerian Levante coast. Restored to it´s origins, including its interior machinery. It is now classified as a Property of Cultural Interest.
The center of interpretation of the windmill, provides information on four areas: cereals grown in the area, the territory of Carboneras, Windmills and he activity of traditional milling in the area.
The Island of San Andrés
A small island of volcanic origin located 400 meters from the beach in front of the town of Carboneras. It covers and area of 7 hectares, with a máximum depth of 30 m. It also has a rich sea floor with the remains of a cráter, cracks and caves that shelter an important underwater fauna. In addition, it houses a Hispanic-Muslim necrópolis that is of a high cultural and patrimonial importance.
On the 1st of October of 2003 it was declared a natural monument by the Andalusian Government.
Coal-fired power station of ENDESA.
Carboneras has a rich and varied gastronomy. The main attraction being the fish: the Gallants, and exquisite fish with White meat unique to these waters, the prawns from Carboneras with their enhanced flavor and texture, the squid in oil, the stews, the grilled fish or the rice dishes all forming part of the typical dishes of the area. Don´t be scared of trying some of the dishes derived from the gardens and traditional gastronomy, inherited form the elders: crumbs, balls, tavern keeper, gurullos and salads. And you can also find seasoned meats and a great variety of tapas, very typical of Andalusia.
Boasting a Mediterranean climate characterized by mild temperaturas and 300 days of sunshine a year with and average temperatura of 20 degrees, this municipality nestled within the Natural Park Cabo de Gata is a magnificent place t olive or spend a few days at any time of the year.
How to get there
From Almería: You have to go towards Murcia by the A-7 / E-15 (the Mediterranean Motorway), and branch off in the kilometre 494 by the N-341 that leads you to Carboneras.
From Murcia: Go towards Almería by the A-7 / E-15 and branch off in the Km. 494 by the N-341 that takes you to Carboneras.
Another shorter chance is take the detour towards Garrucha, then go towards Mojacar and take the road towards Carboneras that skirt round the coast and has the rubble base of the floor in good condition, but it has a section turned. This last option is not advisable in high season, because like the road roams next to the promenade of Mojacar, it has much slow traffic.
If our origin is located in the centre of Spain (Madrid and the area around it), is advisable to go through Murcia and not through Almería, the distance is shorter (50 Km), but when people go on holidays it can be advisable to choose the other option according to the information of DGT.
Almería 70 km
Mojácar 23 km
Garrucha 26 km
Los Gallardos 34 km
The Town Hall
A palatial house from the end of the 19th century, know as “Casa de los Fuentes” (The house of fountains). Acquired by the City Hall in 1988, it is listed as a Property of Cultural Interest.
Andalusian Park – House of Music
It is the main park of Carboneras, located in the vicinity of the San Andres Castle and bordering the Paseo Marítimo (Promenade). It stands out for its gardens and a beautiful manor house of the XIX century, which was reconverted into a Municipal Theater / Music Hall. It is an ideal place to walk and relax by the sea. It is comprised of a type of outdoor amphitheatre in which various cultural activities are carried out, especially in the summer months.
Carboneras and the movies
The history of Carboneras has been closely linked with the history of cinema in the province of Almería. It was more than 50 years ago when a Scot named Eddie Fowlie arrived in Almeria looking for exterior locations for the filming of David Lean´s movie “Lawrence of Arabia”. A huge production whose filming lasted 222 days and had as an All star cast Peter O´toole, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif and Alec Guinnes.
A replica of the Jordanian city of Áqaba from the beginning of the 20th century, consisting of about three hundred houses, including a mosque and oficial buildings, was built at the estuary of the Alias River, next to the beach of Algarrobico. In the scene of the taking of the city more than 400 extras participated, utilising the whole population of the town of Carboneras and surrounding villages.
More recently HBO´S super production of “Game of Thrones”, chose one of the most emblematic towers of the municipality, the Tower of Mesa Roldán, to shoot one of thescenes of the sixth season of the series.
Films like “How I Won the War” with John Lennon as the lead carácter, “Living is Easy with your Eyes Closed” or “Run, Knife, Run!” are just some of those films that have been shot in the municipality.
The Statue of Lawrence of Arabia
Located in the square near the Town Hall in the form of a bronze statue is a tribute to the famous lead carácter of the film to which it gives its name and which was filmed in this municipality.