spanish-holiday.com :: Almeria
The city of Almeria is located at the foot of a mountain range which is crowned by the magnificent Alcazaba, an Arab fortress built by the Calph of Cordoba, Abd-erRahman 111 with three huge walled enclosures (in the second of which are remains of a mosque, converted to a chapel by the Catholic kings).
In times of war, the Alcazaba could hold an army of more than 20,000 men. From here, there is a good view of the city's famed cave quarter, "Barrio de la Chanca" and of the strange fortified Cathedral with its gothic style construction and renaissance facade.
Dating from the 16th century, it was built during an era when the southern Mediterranean was terrorised by the raids of Barbarossa and other Turkish and North African pirate forces, its corner towers once held canons. Situated in the centre is the great altar with its wealth of priceless art work including a tabernacle dating from the 18th century, designed by Ventura Rodriguez, paintings by Alonso Canoñ; a typical Andalusian altar piece made by Araoz and the statue of St. Indaletius, the patron saint of Almeria, sculpted by Saizillo.
True historians will appreciate the Almeria Museum which contains numerous objects discovered by the well-known Belgian mining engineer, Louis Siret.
Gastronomic specialities include "Gurullos" (stew with pasta), "Trigo" (stew with grains of wheat, pork, beans and herbs), "Gachas" (hot and spicy clam stew) and "Escabeche e Sardines" (fresh sardines in hot sauce). As well as cultivating tourism over the past decade, Almeria has also cultivated innumerable plastic covered greenhouses and now produces the bulk of the province's fruit and vegetables, much of it for export.
The Costa Almeria is as varied as any of the Spanish Coasts. The coast is completely unspoilt. To the east of Almeria we find the rugged and desolate coast of the Cabo de Gata - Nijar natural park. This is an arid desert landscape and the annual rainfall here is less than 200mm. It is sparsely populated, few villages and a very low population density. Visitors feel a sense of exploration here as many of the coves can only be reached on foot. This area is particularly popular with nature lovers and back-packers. The most popular coastal village is San José.
West of Almeria is the highly developed tourist resorts of Roquetas de Mar and Aguadulce. These have all the facilities of any modern resort to support the package holiday market.
At the north of the Costa de Almeria is the naturist beaches of Vera, a number of new complexes are being constructed here. A little further south is Mojacar which successfully combines the popular beach holiday with the hillside white village that tourist love to explore.
Almeria city is worth a visit with the Alcazaba castle overlooking the metropolis. To the west we find the developing complex of Almerimar with Marinas, golf, hotels and many other facilities. The old fishing port town of Adra lies further west. In spite of the interesting castle and assorted archeological remains, it is often missed by tourists travelling along the coastal motorway to or from the Costa Tropical.
Golfers visiting Almerimar can look forward to a course of wide fairways, with a profusion of trees and plants which afford plenty of shade and, at the same time, serve as natural hazards, protecting the fast greens. The course was designed during the period that Gary Player had just embarked on a second career in golf course architecture and was working in association with the experienced Ron Kirby. The layout is unquestionably American in style but the 18 holes of the par 72, 5892m (yellow tees) course, quite long at its inauguration in 1976, now plays shorter due to the technological advances of equipment, and the tendency for the ball to roll a long way on the generally flat fairways. Beware, though, that your ball doesn't carry on rolling into one of the five holes affected by huge water hazards and fair-sized sand traps charged with protecting the approaches to large greens.
Although technical advances in ball and club manufacture have been huge in the 25 years since the course opened, the passage of time has also seen trees mature so that they have become hazards on many of the fairways they demark. Being open to the sea, quite a few of the holes are exposed to breezes blowing in off the Mediterranean - an additional hazard that is, nevertheless, often welcome during the 300 days of sunshine Almería annually basks under. In fact, the lush vegetation affords a pleasant oasis-style feel to a round as the palm trees and lakes create spots of singular beauty set against the arid mountains that are the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
The par 3, 12th is a place where many a fourball takes stock of round. The island green is marooned in the centre of a lake, giving a tee-shot over 100m of water - will it spoil a good card? Or, will it redeem an otherwise forgettable round? The daunting challenge of facing up to what was possibly the first island green in Europe, is a topic that often arises at the Almerimar clubhouse, set within the Golf Hotel Almerimar between the first and tenth tees of the course. As the conversation mixes with the thousand natural aromas of an Almería evening, green, blue and white are the colours of golf at Almerimar.
Reach Almerimar using the N340. Take exit 409 marked 'El Ejido' and the course is just 6km away.
spanish-holiday.com :: Almeria