• Leslie

A Moorish UNESCO Fortress in Almeria Spain

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

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.

the Almeria Alcazaba

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."

The Alcazaba gardens with flower filled terraces and ponds

a fountain in the Alcazaba gardens

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.

courtyard in the Almeria Alcazaba

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.

impressive ancient entrance to the Tower of Homage

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.

San Cristóbal Statue

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.

a water garden scene in Dorne filmed at the Almeria Alcazaba

Interior scenes, scenes from the Dornish peninsula, and even Water Garden scenes were shot at the Alcazaba. To make the Alcazaba garden look like Dorne, the pool was merged by computer with the grotto wall of Seville's Alcazar, where scenes in Season 5 were shot.

Torre de Mesa Roldán

Nearby is Torre de Mesa Roldán, a flat top extinct volcano and part of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. It serves as Mereen on Game of Thrones, the city of pyramids in Essos. It appears in Episode 9 of Season 6 where Daenerys punishes the Masters for their treachery and rode Drogon into the bay.

If you're feeling hot and sweaty after visiting arid Almeria's Alcazaba, there's a beautiful beach to cool off.

the beach in Almeria Spain n Andalusia

You can find my other Game of Thrones articles here.

Practical Information for the Almeria Alcazaba:

Address: Calle Almanzor, s/n, 04002 Almería, Spain

Hours: Tues-Sat 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, Sun 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Entry fee: € 3.5

Tel: +34 +34 950 80 10 08

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