Almería: The Complete Guide

Alcazaba-Almería

Almería is a city in Andalusia, Spain, situated in the southeast on the Mediterranean Sea. It serves as the capital of the province sharing its name. The city was named al-Mariyyah by Abd-ar-Rahman III, who founded the Alcazaba. During the 10th and 11th centuries, Almería was part of the Caliphate of Córdoba, thriving on trade and the textile industry, particularly silk. The city endured numerous sieges and fell under Christian rule in 1489. In 1522, a devastating earthquake struck Almería, and significant rebuilding did not commence until the 19th century. During the Spanish Civil War, the city was bombarded by the German Navy and fell to Franco’s forces in 1939. Today, Almería’s economy has been revitalized, largely due to its extensive vegetable production, with 100,000 acres of greenhouses supplying much of Europe.

History of Almería

Almería, a city located in the southeastern part of Spain on the Mediterranean coast, has a rich and varied history shaped by numerous cultures and significant events. Here’s a detailed overview of its historical development:

Ancient and Roman Times

The area around Almería has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with evidence of human settlement dating back to the Neolithic period. During the Roman era, the region was part of the province of Hispania and served as an important site for trade and agriculture. However, Almería itself was not a significant city during Roman times.

Islamic Period

The city’s prominence began in the 10th century when it was founded by Abd-ar-Rahman III, the ruler of the Caliphate of Córdoba. He established the Alcazaba, a large fortress that still stands today, and named the city al-Mariyyah, meaning “the Mirror” in Arabic. Almería quickly grew into a vital port and trade center, especially known for its silk production and textile industry. During the 10th and 11th centuries, it became one of the most prosperous cities in the Iberian Peninsula, renowned for its wealth and strategic importance.

Christian Reconquest

Almería’s prosperity attracted the attention of various powers, and the city suffered numerous sieges. In 1489, during the Reconquista, the city was captured by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, marking the end of Muslim rule in Almería. The transition to Christian rule brought significant changes, including the establishment of new religious institutions and the repurposing of Islamic architecture.

The 16th to 18th Centuries

In 1522, a devastating earthquake struck Almería, causing widespread destruction. The city’s recovery was slow, and it did not regain its former prominence until much later. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Almería faced additional challenges, including pirate attacks and economic stagnation. The city’s population declined, and it struggled to rebuild.

The 19th Century

The 19th century marked a period of recovery and modernization for Almería. The city began to rebuild and expand, with new infrastructure and public works projects. The development of the mining industry in the nearby Sierra de Gádor mountains brought economic growth and increased trade through the port. Almería started to re-establish itself as an important economic center in the region.

The Spanish Civil War and Francoist Era

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Almería was a Republican stronghold. The city was bombarded by the German Navy in 1937, causing significant damage and loss of life. In 1939, Almería fell to Franco’s Nationalist forces, marking the end of the war for the city. Under Francoist rule, the city experienced repression but also began to rebuild its economy.

Modern Era

In the latter half of the 20th century, Almería saw significant economic development, particularly in agriculture. The introduction of greenhouse farming transformed the region, making it a major supplier of vegetables to Europe. Today, Almería’s economy is heavily based on agriculture, with over 100,000 acres of greenhouses producing a wide variety of crops.

Tourism has also become an important part of Almería’s economy, with visitors attracted to its historical sites, beautiful coastline, and natural parks. The city’s historical landmarks, such as the Alcazaba, the Cathedral of Almería, and the archaeological museum, reflect its rich and diverse history.

In summary, Almería’s history is marked by its rise as an Islamic trade center, its transition to Christian rule, periods of decline and recovery, and its modern economic transformation. The city’s ability to adapt and grow through various challenges has shaped it into the vibrant and dynamic city it is today.

Visiting Almería for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Almería on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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Best Time to Visit Almería

Spring (March to May)

Spring is an excellent time to visit Almería. The weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). This season is ideal for outdoor activities such as exploring historical sites, hiking in natural parks, and enjoying the beaches before the summer crowds arrive. The blooming flowers and lush landscapes add to the charm of the region.

Summer (June to August)

Summer in Almería is characterized by hot and sunny weather, with temperatures often reaching 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F). This is the peak tourist season, perfect for beach lovers and those who enjoy water sports. The Mediterranean Sea is warm and inviting, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. However, the high temperatures can be intense, so it’s best to plan activities for the cooler mornings and evenings.

Autumn (September to November)

Autumn is another great time to visit Almería. The temperatures start to cool down, ranging from 20°C to 28°C (68°F to 82°F), providing a comfortable climate for sightseeing and outdoor activities. The sea remains warm enough for swimming, and the summer crowds have usually diminished, allowing for a more relaxed experience. This season also offers beautiful sunsets and pleasant evenings.

Winter (December to February)

Winter in Almería is mild compared to other parts of Europe, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 18°C (50°F to 64°F). This season is ideal for those who prefer a quieter visit with fewer tourists. While it can be cooler, it’s still suitable for exploring the city, visiting museums, and enjoying local cuisine. Winter is also a good time for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the region without the heat of summer.

Average Temperatures in Almería

  • January 17°C 3
  • February 18°C 2
  • March 21°C 5
  • April 24°C 3
  • May 26°C 3
  • June 31°C 1
  • July 34°C 0
  • August 33°C 1
  • September 29°C 4
  • October 27°C 3
  • November 22°C 4
  • December 19°C 3

How to get to Almería

Traveling to Almería can be done through various modes of transportation depending on your starting location. Here are the main options:

By Air

Almería Airport (LEI): The most convenient way to reach Almería is by flying into Almería Airport, located about 9 kilometers east of the city center. The airport offers regular domestic flights from major Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona, as well as international flights from various European destinations.

Getting to Almería from the Airport: Once you arrive at Almería Airport, you can take a taxi or bus to reach the city center. The journey by taxi takes around 15 minutes. There is also a bus service (Line 30) that connects the airport to the city center, which takes about 30 minutes.

By Train

RENFE: Almería is connected by train to several Spanish cities. RENFE, Spain’s national railway company, operates regular services to and from Madrid, Granada, and Sevilla. The train station in Almería, Estación Intermodal, is centrally located and also serves as the main bus terminal.

High-Speed Train: Although there is no direct high-speed train (AVE) service to Almería, you can take an AVE train to cities like Málaga or Granada and then transfer to a regional train or bus.

By Bus

ALSA: ALSA, a major bus operator in Spain, provides frequent services to Almería from various cities, including Madrid, Málaga, Granada, and Seville. The buses are comfortable and equipped with amenities like Wi-Fi and air conditioning. The main bus station is located at the Estación Intermodal, close to the train station.

By Car

Driving to Almería: If you prefer to drive, Almería is well-connected by highways. From Madrid, you can take the A-4 and A-7 highways, with a drive of approximately 6 hours. From Málaga, the A-7 highway offers a scenic coastal route, taking about 2.5 hours.

Car Rental: Renting a car is a convenient option for exploring Almería and its surrounding areas. Car rental services are available at Almería Airport and in the city center.

By Ferry

From Melilla: There are regular ferry services from Melilla (a Spanish enclave in North Africa) to Almería. The ferry ride takes about 6-8 hours and offers a unique travel experience. The port of Almería is centrally located, providing easy access to the city.

Local Transportation

Buses and Taxis: Once in Almería, you can use the local bus network or taxis to get around the city. The buses are efficient and cover most parts of the city, including tourist attractions and beaches.

Walking and Cycling: Almería is a compact city, making it easy to explore on foot or by bicycle. There are dedicated cycling paths and pedestrian-friendly streets, especially in the city center.

Choosing the best mode of travel to Almería depends on your starting location and personal preferences, but the options above provide various convenient ways to reach and explore this beautiful city.

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