Costa de Almeria
The coast of Almeria is relatively unspoilt compared to its neighbouring Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca regions. The area incorporates over 200 kilometres of diverse and predominantly natural coastline; inland much of the landscape is arid and desert-like and is sparsely populated. Supposedly Almeria enjoys the most hours of sunshine and lowest rainfall in Europe.
The name Almeria derives from the Arabic occupation, originally Al-Mariyya, meaning The Mirror, as it was compared to The Mirror of the Sea. The capital city of the same name, Almeria was an Arabic stronghold and the principal harbour in its domain. The Moorish castle of Alcazaba is the second largest of the Arabic fortresses in Andalusia, after the Alhambra in Granada.
The city itself is a lively, modern commercial city; culturally it is very Spanish, with few foreigners residing in the centre. There is a ferry port – where you can take a trip over to North Africa, a sports marina and a working fishing port. A visit to the city is definitely worthwhile; it has a good selection of galleries, museums and shops, as well as lots of pretty squares along the main central avenue Las Ramblas.
To the east of the city of Almeria we find the protected natural maritime park of Cabo de Gato – Nijar with its beautiful rugged and natural coastline. Much of the coast has restricted road access, so getting down to beach is usually on foot, but its worth it to experience some of the idyllic secluded bays with crystal clear waters, perfect for bathing and for scuba diving enthusiasts, untouched beaches and sand dunes, tiny fishing villages and sweeping headlands offering fabulous views to the Mediterranean sea and coastline. The area is one of the most natural and ecologically rich coasts along the western Mediterranean and is perfect for hikers, nature lovers and bird watchers.
The little town of Nijar has a cottage industry of clay ceramic ware and is definitely worth a trip to pick up a unique holiday souvenir.
West of the city of Almeria you find the towns of Roquetas de Mar, Aguadulce and Almerimar; well developed tourist destinations, which offer all the facilities that you would expect to find in a modern tourist area. Almerimar boasts marinas, golf, hotels and many other resort facilities.
Even further west, you come to the old fishing town of Adra, in the area known as ‘El Poniente’. The city has some extremely interesting archaeological sites dating from the 8th century. An area of interest often missed by the crowds of tourist.
To the north of the city you come to the nudist beaches of Vera, whose surrounds are gradually being developed upon. And a little further south is the popular town of Mojacar, which clings to a rocky hillside and which boasts some fabulous fine sandy beaches.
The province is probably most famous for being the location for many of the Spaghetti Western movies. The dry and arid landscapes of the Taberna desert area were perfect set locations for the films of Sergio Leone. David Lean also shot some scenes there in the Oscar winning film Lawrence of Arabia. In the village of Tabernas you can visit the ‘badlands of Almeria”, the film set locations which attract a modest number of tourists each year. It is also the site of the ruins of a Moorish castle and old church.
It’s also an area well known for its ‘troglodyte villages’, with houses fashioned out of caves of soft rock. There are many towns throughout the Almeria and Granada provinces that still have a population that live in cave homes.
Despite the arid climate of Almeria, it is a major agricultural area – where some 250 million kilos of flowers and crops are cultivated each year. You will note the miles upon miles of huge plastic greenhouses and sheet covered fields that protect the crops.
The province of Almeria is rich in fish and seafood dishes, squid red prawns and red mullet are common. It also has a strong Arabic/North African influence rooted from its strong Moorish history. Because of the strong agricultural industry in Almeria, fruit and vegetables are excellent quality; they produce the most amazing tomatoes. Typical dishes from the province include fish chowders and stew, Migas (fried bread with garlic and spicy sausage) and lots of grilled fish.