Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Almería, Andalucía [Part III of III]

First of all, apologies for the hiatus! Christmas happened, etc, etc, etc…
Moving on now to my last visited destination – Almería!

The province of Almería is located at the far Southeastern corner of Andalucía, where there’s plenty of sunshine and very little rainfall. A combination of canyons, rocky mountains, caves and dry desert make up the physical geography of this province. In fact, thanks to this intriguing landscape, Almeria became the filming site of several Hollywood ‘Wild Wild West’ type movies back in the 60’s to the 80’s (including 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade').

Almería is also blessed with a number of nature reserve parks & unspoilt beaches (such as Cabo de Gata – Nijar) that are home to various species of wildlife, flora and fauna. Almería’s natural terrain, mild Mediterranean climate and clear waters make it a great place for outdoor sports such as hiking, mountain biking and diving. Find out more here and here.

I on the other hand, visited only the capital city of the same name, due to time constraint and did none of that outdoorsy thing. Interestingly, when I spoke with some people before my trip, I gathered that Almeria City is not particularly attractive. I tried not to be influenced by the opinions but I must admit that after driving around the city and checking out the main plaza, Cathedral & maritime walk, I found it a little lifeless for a Spanish city (well probably it's the holidays anyway and the people have all gone to Granada perhaps!). Having said that though, sometimes less crowd actually makes it more appealing, no?

Above: Paseo Maritimo along Playa Ciudad Luminosa

Above: Along the beach - 'Playa Ciudad Luminosa'

Above: View from my hotel balcony.
The Christmas tree marks the start of Rambla de Belén street which stretches down on the left.
Visible on the top right is the lighted up Cable Inglés structure which was built as a loading bay for transporting iron ore from train to vessel. It extends out into the sea.

Above: La Rambla de Belén, one of the main shopping streets in the city. It is a stretch of pedestrian walkway occupied by a long row of stalls selling all sorts of wares and foodstuff in the evenings. This is probably the main place where the locals hang out.

One attraction not to be missed though, is The Alcazaba, the 2nd largest Moorish fortress in Andalucía after The Alhambra. Despite that, entrance is free and I didn’t have to wait in line! Although it lacks the majestic appeal and the intricate architectural details of THE Alhambra, it sure has an understated charm of its own – lots of greenery, small fountains and streams of flowing water everywhere, as well as excellent panaromic views over the city & harbour.

The Alcazaba was built as a fortress on a hill overlooking Almeria back in 955, when Almeria was an important Moorish port. Further extensions followed on the site after it fell under the hands of the Christians in 1489.

Above: Puerta de la Justicia or Gate of Justice, the main entrance of the fort

Above: The well kept gardens of the Alcazabar Complex – this area used to be occupied by houses & small roads

Above: Connected to the Alcazaba is a fortified defensive wall (the Muralla de Jairán) that was built in the 11th century which descends a ravine and climbs up linking to the adjoining hill - Cerro de San Cristobal on the far side.

Above: Torre de la Odalisca

Above: Due to earthquakes, parts of the Alcazaba had been heavily damaged and reduced to ruins. These are what used to be the Arab baths.

Above: Torre del Homenaje, built as the residence for the fortress governor

Above: The Alcazaba resident cat. Cats are everywhere this part of Spain!

Above: Casa del Alcaide - The Governer's House

Above: The parade ground outside the Christian Castle

Above: View of the city and harbour from The Alcazaba

Above: View of cave houses in the hills from The Alcazaba

With this post, I wrap up my recent Andalucía trip and also the year 2009.
I hope it had been wonderful for you as it had been for me, and let's hope it only gets better.

Here's wishing you all a Happy 2010!!! See you next year ;-)

Besos xoxo

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