Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Next, Almeria

Almeria, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Málaga, was ruled by the Moors from the 10th century and its Moorish Castle, the Alcazaba of Almeria, is the second largest former-Muslim fortress in Andalusia.  The castle stands proudly above the town and will be our first and main destination.

Almeria went through many sieges, was conquered by the Christians during the Crusades, then returned to Muslim control, and finally came permanently under Christian control in the 15th century, although still retaining a large Muslim population.

Almeria is one of the driest cities in Europe, with a true desert climate, and also one of the warmest, having never recorded a below-freezing temperature.

We leave the port and start hiking through town toward the castle.

 Picturesque town

Construction of the Alcazaba of Almeria began in the mid-10th century AD and the castle now consists of three large walled enclosures:  a military camp, a palace and mosque, and three towers built after the Christian conquest.  Many of the city streets head up to the castle, and the walk up is rewarded, once we arrive, with stunning, dominating views of the city and the harbor.  The castle is the best-preserved Moorish fortress in Spain and definitely worth a lengthy exploration.

Approaching the castle

Exploring inside

 Beautiful gardens inside the castle

Expansive views looking out

Great entrances though the castle walls

 And a school group meeting in the castle garden

Outside of and even higher than the Alcazaba of Almeria (with more great views) is an imposing structure with the statue Cerra de San Cristobal, built in the Castle of San Cristobal, now in ruins, but connected to the Alcazaba by a line of walls.

Cerra de San Cristobal

Looking out from Cerra de San Cristobal toward the city and sea

Eventually, we end our exploration of the hilltops and head back down the picturesque streets of the old town.

Charming streets in town

And, random beautiful gardens

As we stroll back to our ship through the gardens and palm trees of the seaside promenade, we think about what a great little town this is.

While I relax for a bit, Laura borrows a bicycle from the ship and rides along the  seaside and beaches for a totally different experience.  She didn't take pictures and we'll have to go back for those someday!

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