A Moorish UNESCO Fortress in Almeria Spain
Updated: Jan 14
Who can resist an imposing Moorish fortress? Not me.
I had to make the most of my winter geographical cure. As I drove through southern Spain, I happily exited the A-92 toward Almeria. Snuggled away on the southeast corner of Spain’s Mediterranean coast, Almeria is a hidden gem in Andalucia.
It's a rough Andalusian beauty with a magnificent well-preserved fortress. The 1430 meter walled fortress is part of Almeria's UNESCO classification, and a must see destination in southern Spain.
You enter the fortress through the Albarran Tower and hike up a long zigzagging ramp. Access to fortresses was never meant to be easy.
The Alcazaba was built in 955 by And-al-Rhaman III, the powerful caliph who was also built Córdoba’s Medina Azahara. It's a formidable military fortification with a triple line of curtain like walls and fantastic crenelated battlements with pointy merlons.
It is the largest Moorish defensive fortress in Spain and parts were modeled after the Alhambra. (The Alhambra is technically the largest Muslim building, but is usually considered a palace.)
Almeria was once the most important Moorish port and headquarters of the Moorish fleet. The port attracted many merchants from all over the Mediterranean. Almeria became an enormously important trading city in Andalusia. The saying went: "When Almeria was Almeria, Granada was but its farm."
You enter the fortress through the Puerta de la Justicia (Justice Gate). There are 3 walled compounds, two are of Islamic derivation, one is Christian. The first, lower part was a former military garrison or a place of refuge if the city was under siege. It is now an Arab water garden.
The second walled enclosure is the heart of the Alcazaba. It's the public area where the Moorish kings stayed when in residence. It has ruins of public baths, homes and a mosque. The mosque that was converted into a chapel by the Catholic monarchs, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. You can walk through two homes to imagine how people might have lived.
The third area is the most complete part of the fortress, restored and built after the Reconquista. Unlike the other parts, this is 500 years old, not 1,000. There are impressive walls and three semicircular towers. The largest one is the Tower of Homage.
There are great views of Almeria from the fortress.
If you are in the Alcazaba and look to the other side, you will see the Castillo de San Cristobal, another ancient building that is not as well maintained as the Alcazaba. It is connected to the Alcazaba by defensive walls. You can walk to the San Cristóbal Statue for the best panorama view of the Alcazaba and the Mediterranean sea.
Many films that have been shot at the Alcazaba, including Indiana Jones and Conan the Barbarian. The nearby Tabernas desert was home to the spaghetti westerns of the 60s and 70s
The Alcazaba also stars as Dorne on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. While the Royal Alcazar in Seville is the main filming location for Dorne, the Alcazaba is also used.