ALMERIA CITY

 

Almeria city is approximately 1 hours drive south from Garrucha and quite unique in so much that it is half Spanish and half African with many of the local workers being of African origin.

 

It is a pleasant and largely modern cosmopolitan city that hosts a major port, providing a ferry service to Africa, a sports marina and a working fishing port.

 

If you like shopping this is the place to be, with a large undercover complex and numerous other local shops you could spend all day here and still not see all that is on offer. Because of the huge variety of shops Spaniards come from miles around to shop here and snap up bargains both in the shops and the large outdoor markets held on Tuesdays and Fridays.almeriaindoormarket

 

As well as offering a relaxing holiday destination Almeria has a wealth of history. The Phoenicians founded the town, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors all occupied it before Ferdinand and Isabella finally recovered it for Spain during the re-conquest.

 

Enjoy a quiet stroll through the Nicolas Salmeron Park and then head up towards the caves in the old gypsy quarter. Take your time exploring the city and make sure you see the old quarter where you will find Casa de los Puche and the market area of Plaza Vieja.plaza vieja almeria

 

 

The cathedral is at the heart of the old part of the city and was begun in 1524 to replace a predecessor wrecked by the earthquake in 1522. The architecture is a combination of Gothic and Renaissance, its fortress like appearance was due to suffering raids by pirates from North Africa. The north facade is an elaborate mid 16th century design by Juan de Orea.

 

The spacious interior has a Gothic ribbed ceiling and makes use of jasper and local marble in some of its baroque and neo-classical trimmings. The chapel behind the main altar contains the tomb of Bishop Villalan, founder of the cathedral, and is another work of de Orea, as are the choir with its stalls made out of walnut wood, and the Sacristia Mayor with its fine carved stone roof, windows and arches.

 

If you have time, take a trip up to the ancient Alcazaba which dominates the town from its hilltop location. Here you can soak in the city's rich past while enjoying magnificent views of the harbour. Constructed in 995, this military fortress has served through the centuries as the headquarters of Moorish sultans and Christian governors. One of its three great walled enclosures contain the remains of the site's original mosque, which was later converted into a chapel by the Catholic kings.

 

On the northern edge of the Alcazaba you'll see the 11th century Wall of Jairan which drops down into the valley and ascends the San Cristobel hillside on the other side. The wall was built by the province's first Moorish ruler who was called Jairan.alcazabaalmeria

 

More of the city's history is charted by the three museums which house important exhibits from Iberian and Roman times, the Sala de Prehistoria and Sala de Historia Antigua in Calle Hermanos Machado and another Sala de Historia Antigua (Ancient History Showroom) in Calle Infanta.

 

In the centre of the city is La Rambla, a long avenue with squares in which to rest and play parks for the children. A good time to visit Almeria is during the annual fair held in August.

 

Almeria is also famed for its troglodyte villages where cave dwellers have fashioned their extraordinary homes out of the soft rock. When you see the smart front door in the hillside and the little chimney puffing smoke out of the roof of the cave you half expect Bilbo Baggins to invite you in for tea!!

 

GRANADA

 

At the foot of Sierra Nevada, between the Darro and Genil rivers, lies one of the most interesting cities in eastern Andalusia. chancery building

Because it was the last city reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, Granada has an unmistakable Arab flavour. Its cuisine, crafts and urban layout are a consequence of the city's glorious history. Fountains, viewpoints and Cármenes, the villas surrounded by gardens typical of the city, add to Granada's unforgettable charm. Not in vain was one of its oldest districts, the Albaicín, declared a World Heritage Site, together with the Alhambra.

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Sierra Nevada is Europe's most southern ski resort. The resort is located 32 km from the centre of Granada and is only a 50-minute drive. In 1996, it hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships.


 

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The ski season normally lasts from the beginning of December until the end of April or beginning of May. Artificial snow machines now mean that the resort can open for skiing even when there is no natural snow.

 

 

 

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Andalusia has a very high proportion of sunny days even in the winter and usually it is possible to ski with beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures. It is possible to ski in the morning and sunbathe at the beach in the afternoon on the same day

The highest summit of the Sierra Nevada range is Mulhacén at 3,481 metres, the highest ski lift and piste goes to just below Veleta which is at 3,398 metres.

 

Apart from the obvious skiing and snowboarding at Sierra Nevada, you can also go tobogganing, horse riding, mountain biking and hiking as well as various other activities.

 

 

Please visit this website http://www.sierranevada.co.uk/winter.html  

for full details and prices.

 

 

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