Almeria

The earliest Prehistoric occupation was at El Cerro de la Alcazaba, in the Bronze Age; Phoenician remains from the later pre-Roman Age have also been found there. There have been numerous pieces of Roman pottery found in the excavations, covering a vast period from the first century in the era up until the final productions of fine ceramics, especially from the late or final Roman period (V to VII centuries).

These occupations made permanent habitation of the area possible until the “foundation” of the city in the year 955, by a small sea-faring population who depended on the interior (URCI) and found this area to be a natural port; vestiges of these people can still be found around the modern city.

The first reliable information on Muslim Almeria goes back to the IX century, when Abd al-Rahman entrusted a group of Yemenis with guarding the coast to stop the Normans from disembarking. A republic of sailors based in Pechina formed next to the original town, prospering through trade, especially with North Africa. Pechina grew and became, in many ways, like a real city, whilst Almeria in the IX and first half of the tenth centuries was the Maritime neighbourhood of Bayyana, inhabited by traders and fishermen, and the bay controlled by a watchtower or atalaya.

The watchtower was located at the highest point on the Cerro de la Alcazaba, on what is today the third site. The name of the city comes from this watchtower or atalaya: Al-mariyat Bayyana, the Pechina atalaya. After the victorious struggle against the rebel Mozarabics, “Abd al- Rahman III” (912-961) ordered the capital of Pechina to be moved, and the so-called Pechina atalaya became named “city”: a major Mosque was built and a wall joined to the fort. The city was built around a central walled nucleus, La Medina, which housed the major Mosque or Aljama, the Alcaicería the shipyards and Souk.

It was during the Muslim period that Almeria was at its most splendid, especially in the XI-XII centuries, after the fall of the Califato de Córdoba, when it became a well populated centre of civilisation. Seven centuries later, in the middle of the XIX century, it again became socially and economically important thanks to mining and the grape trading which brought wealth to the middle classes. Almería today has a strong economy built mainly on tourism and its greenhouse agriculture.

THE CITY

Almería is the most easterly province in Andalusia and its 8770 squared kilometres and landscape are unusually diverse, spreading from the Tabernas Desert to the frozen peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

Almeria is the sunniest and driest place in Europe. The capital city, Almeria, has some 180,000 inhabitants and looks onto the Mediterranean, giving it a really special charm.

TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS

If there’s one thing which helps us to quickly identify Almería it’s the traditional symbol, known as the Índalo. Discovered around 2500 BC in the “Cueva de los Letreros” in Vélez Blanco, its name comes from Saint Indalecio, a precursor to Catholicism in the southern peninsula. Índalo comes from Indal eccius, which in the Iberian language means “Messenger of the Gods”. It’s been used since time immemorial, when people knew it as “Muñeco Mojaquero”, (Mojacar doll). This was because the first Romantic travellers found it daubed in whitewash on the walls of the houses in Mojacar, to avoid the “evil eye” and protect the inhabitants from storms.

This symbol was declared the symbol of a cultural movement in the Seventies led by Jesús de Perceval and Eugenio D´Ors, coinciding with the love of the period’s artists and intellectuals for this area.

It’s currently the symbol of all good Almerians and they say that it brings good luck, and passes it on to all travellers too.

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