My family holiday in Spain has been so jam-packed full of all sorts of different activities that I can’t believe how quickly it’s flown by - there’s hardly any time left! Although I loved visiting Mojácar Pueblo and experiencing the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (amongst many other things), the best trip so far was definitely my visit to the city of Almería.
Exploring the city...
We arrived in Almería at about 9:30 last Tuesday after an earlyish start (well, not that early but it’s early enough when you’re on holiday!). To start the day we wandered around the streets, exploring the city. All of the main roads were lined with towering palm trees - so different to what I’m used to in Glasgow. There were loads of stunning statues, fountains and pieces of street art scattered around the streets too.
I love looking at buildings and there were certainly plenty to be admired in Almería! The variety of buildings (old and new, tall and small, plain and detailed) crammed together on tiny little winding streets was astonishing. Probably one of my favourite things was the lack of large chain stores - there were a few on the main high street but aside from that it was all small independent businesses.
Stopping by the covered market was well worth it too. It’s there every day and was crammed with stalls selling all sorts of fruit, veg, fish, meat, biscuits and dried goods. It was such a shame that we visited at the start of our day and had an hour’s drive to where we’re staying as we were therefore unable to buy any food for the upcoming week - I think we’d have bought half of the market otherwise!
Things to see...
Although the city of Almería is lovely in itself, there a few features that make it really special and are definitely worth seeing.
The Alcazaba is a large fortress which was built in the 10th century and has been modified ever since. It is split into three main section: two Islamic enclosures and a Christian castle. Some areas have been landscaped with luscious gardens where streets and houses used to be. Other sections are in the process of being excavated, but some are still remarkably well preserved and allow for more of an understanding of what the fortress used to be like. The panoramic views from the walls of the fortress are absolutely stunning too!
Recognise this image? Well that’s because this area was used to film scenes from Dorne in Game of Thrones! The Alcazaba has also been used to film scenes in Risen and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as well as many other TV shows and movies.
The Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
This statue was built in the 1930’s on San Cristobal Hill and overlooks Almería. You can either walk up the hill to the statue (it’s not too far but the ground is uneven and it can be even more tricky in the heat) or drive up to the top. The statue is amazing and the view is stunning with the Alcazaba on top of a hill on one side, the city on the other and the sea in between.
Although built in the 16th century primarily a a place of worship, the cathedral also offered shelter for the people of Almería when the city was attacked by pirates. Much of the exterior is relatively plain due to this, with relatively minimal decoration aside from that over the main entrance. The inside, however, is a whole other story. Grandiose decorations fill the cathedral with astonishing attention to the most intricate details. The elaborate decorations are spectacular.
And the food...
Shortly after arriving in Almería, we stopped here for a quick drink after our drive. I had a lemon granizado (which is basically a really sweet and sharp tasting iced slushy) and my brother James tried one of the Oreo doughnuts (supposedly it was delicious). They had loads of other doughnuts and pastries on sale, as well as coffees (for which there was actually soya milk available too!). The cafe was lovely and brightly painted and made for a nice change from stopping at your typical Costa or Starbucks!
Third time lucky (with a little help from Happy Cow) we stopped here for lunch having stopped previously at places which either had no vegan options or were closed. And oh my goodness was it worth the wait! The menu had clearly labelled vegetarian and vegan options (as well as meat options too) and served tapas, full portions and sharing plates. My mum and brother aren’t vegan like me and my dad, and so they had a variety of tapas including a chicken wrap and mini beef and tuna hamburgers. We all shared patatas bravas (which I actually think are the best type of chips!) and my dad and I both opted for a full sized soya burger. It was quite honestly the best vegan burger I have ever had and it (like all of the other food) was presented so beautifully too!
I had a brilliant day in Almería and I would definitely go back again if I had enough time left on my holiday to do so! Whether you visit for the food, shopping, architecture, culture or nearby beaches it’s well worth the visit!