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The city where John Lennon of the Beatles fame spent time songwriting, Almeria sits in Andalusia, the southeast of Spain with its feet in the Mediterranean Sea. Originally it was a citadel "Alcazaba" founded by Abd-ar-Rahman III as part of a defense system for the Arab towns in the region. Its name is derived from "Al-Mari'yah", the Watchtower. Once a silk industrial hive awash in mulberry trees during the 11th Century, the city has endured sieges and squabbles from the Second Crusade of the Christians in the 1100s to the puritanical Muslim Almoravid emirs, Berber pirates stomped over it and during the Spanish Civil War it was bombed by the German Navy.
Rich in minerals, it was during the 19th and early 20th centuries that Almeria became a wealthy city and revived its fortunes back to its former glory of the Arab times when it was the most important port city in Andalucía.
Tourists today are flocking to Almeria for its stunning beach and national park of Cabo de Gata; the large coastal protected area of wild and isolated landscapes with unique geological features of sharp peaks and crags of stunning ochre hues tumbling into hidden coves, gullies and white sandy beaches. Tiny rocky islets cluster the shoreline with extensive coral reefs jumping with marine life.
Referred to as a "rough diamond", Almeria is laid-back and easy going and sometimes referred to as "an extension of Morocco". Its colorful and dynamic area known as the Gypsy Caves sitting between the old town and the hill to the port is home to gypsies and fishermen. The brightly painted houses with striking red-tiled roofs and eclectic cave dwellings, some of which are still lived in, are a photographer's wet the pants moment. Once an area of drastic poverty and almost medieval living conditions, this is not an area to meander around alone at night.
Whilst the ancient walls of Jayran and the Moorish castle, the Alcazaba of Almeria, beg to be strolled.
The museum buff into history will get a kick out of the Museum of Almeria displaying its history from prehistoric times whilst those searching for a bit of time out will love exploring the promenade on the beachfront dressed in swaying palms and lush gardens.
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