History of Almeria province, Andalucia, Spain

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Armeria's history.

Almería has known many different civilizations and periods, starting right back in pre-historic times with the Vélez, the Bronze Age with the Millares and there is also a great presence from the Middle Ages with the Al-Andalus, finally leading us to modern times. There have been earthquakes, plagues, wars and more, all tightly linked to Almeria?s history.

Almeria?s geography.
Almeria?s geography is very diverse, offering sharp contrasts that go from abundantly green mountain ranges to sharp deserted sceneries.

Almeria?s History

Many civilizations have left their mark in Almería; they left a part of themselves behind in this unique little enclave located in southern Europe. This is demonstrated by the rich heritage that extends throughout the whole province.

The first indications of civilizations in Almeria?s history are prehistoric, from 18.000 years ago, with the famous cave paintings that have been discovered in La Comarca de los Vélez; declared a World Heritage Site in 1998.

Later on, during the Copper Age, the culture known as Los Millares settled in Santa Fé de Mondujar, one of the most important Copper Age sites in all of Europe that extended over a great part of Andalucía, Murcia and even reaching Portugal.

The next culture to settle in Almerian land was the Algar en Antas that left its mark during the Bronze Age (1900-1200 BC).
Later on the Phoenicians, Iberians, and Romans came, the last building the aqueducts, they arrived around the 3rd century BC, and called the capital Portus Magnus. The Romans kept their control of Almeria until the arrival of the Visigoths in the 7th Century. Even today we can see the marks left by the tartessos, the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Carthaginians, and the Romans, all of them came to Almería to mine gold and collect gold and silver from the rivers.

It was towards the end of the 8th Century that history decided that Moors, from the North of Africa would arrive on the Almerian coast, and they stayed right until the middle ages. From this long stay we still see the Celín Arab baths in Dalías, and the Alcazaba monument in Almería.

During the Middle Ages, and thanks to the development of a regional market right on the sea shore of the Alborán (now known as the Mediterranean), in the second half of the 9th century Almeria was able to grow into a big, rich city. A city founded by the caliph Abd al-Rahman III in the year 955.

A 10 year siege (1147-1157) by the Christian troupes, broke up the city of Almería, leaving it poor and empty, those determined to defend the city left behind the remains of the San Cristóbal turrets, similar to the Ávila city wall.

Almeria?s location in the Mediterranean and the adversities it suffered during the 16th and 18th centuries conditioned the city. The sea became a curse; full of pirates. Almería became a frightening place to live; people were in fear of captivity, earthquakes, drought or floods, plagues and epidemics.

When the city shakes. Throughout history there have been many earthquakes in Almeria. One of the most serious happened in 1522, its epicentre was in Alhama, and it reached an intensity of 8 on the Richter scale, it was accompanied by a flood, a tsunami and a plague epidemic. Most of Almería was devastated; the old cathedral was destroyed as was the Alcazaba area, and more than 2500 people lost their lives.

After a long and hard reconstruction of Almeria, the Christians took over the control of the city, bringing with them the Renaissance, followed by the Baroque era and then the neoclassical period. The capital burst into life, proof of this is the fact that a great many churches began to be built during this time period.

The Spanish civil war (1936-1939) had a great impact on the people in Almeria, gripped with fear, the city was perforated with a network of bomb shelters to protect the civilians, a dense network of over 4 km was built under the city centre, and they are some of the best preserved and most extensive shelters in all of Europe.

Almeria?s Geography

The name Almería is normally associated with the coast, but this province in Andalucía boasts a long list of natural spaces, a unique touristic panorama and has the only desert of the whole of the European continent. There are some of the most spectacular natural parks from the whole of the mainland, like the Sierra Nevada, the Sierra de María-Los Vélez and Cabo de Gata-Nijar, as well as the natural beauty spots that are of great environmental value.

Its mountain ranges cross from one side to the other of the Almerian province, like for example the Sierra de los Filabres, where we find the Calar Alto Astronomic Observatory, as well as the Gádor observatory, and the Estancias and Cabrera-Bédar observatories. The woods with Holm oaks, cork trees and pine trees that extend right down to the coast, here you can find the spur-thighed tortoise, which is an endangered species.

Passionate bird watchers love this land, where they can watch a great amount of different species in the Salinas del Cabo de Gata or the Salinas de Guardias Viejas, and in the marsh lands formed by the River Antas estuary, and other sights that they mustn?t miss are birds of prey flying over the dense forests, to see these one needs to travel to the Arroyo Verruga Refuge, the Peñon del Negro or the Mirador de las Víboras.

The skirt of the Sierra Nevada has a great wine tradition as well as fields full of chestnut, walnut and Holm oak trees that are furrowed with creeks of crystalline water.

And finally; we have the most well known area, the coast, with Cabo de Gata as the foremost headland, where visitors can discover the large, untouched beaches, coves and cliffs, a unique environmental area.

Many of these places have been used as scenery in films.

This special geographic position bestows the territory with exceptional environmental conditions that are enhanced due to a great climate, unique in the European continent. This gives rise to a special, southern, Mediterranean landscape. It is a real treat for the eyes.


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