Like many cities that have held a strategic position in some part of the world, Almeria has played host to many civilisations over the centuries. Traces of early settlements go back 18000 years.
There have been Copper and bronze age settlements that existed before the coming of the Phoenicians, Iberians and Romans, all of these and others came to Almeria in search of gold buried in the earth and silver that ran in the rivers of the area, all of them have left their mark on Almeria.
Silk & Prosperity
The city of Almeria was founded in 955 AD by the Moors, and this began a period of prosperity and power for the city of Almeria. The Muslim rulers were, apart from being fierce warriors, also patrons of the arts. In the 11th century a silk industry was founded by planting mulberry trees, and this made the harbour of Almeria a very important strategic port to possess.
In the following years Almeria experienced much upheaval in the wars between Islam and Christianity. The second Crusade led to a long siege between the years of1147 to 1157 that almost destroyed the city, and in the late 15th century Almeria fell to the Christians of the Catholic rulers Ferdinand and Isabella.
Decades Of Calamity
The following century saw Almeria suffer from a series of natural and manmade catastrophes’. A series of earthquakes struck the city, and a particularly devastating one struck the city in 1522. This one was followed by a tsunami and a plague, and virtually destroyed the city. Over 2000 people lost their lives.
Frequent raids and incursions by Berber pirate plagued Almeria and the surrounding areas right up until the 18th century.
But prosperity returned when huge Iron deposits were discovered and the mining companies set up by French and British companies revived the fortunes of Almeria.
Civil War Devastation
The Spanish civil war had a devastating impact on the city of Almeria. The German navy shelled the city and the people were forced to retreat underground by the continual attack from the air by the Luftwaffe.
However, the citizens developed a wide spreading network of air raid shelters beneath their city to protect themselves.
They are now considered to be the most extensive and best preserved air raid shelters in Europe.
Almeria, along with Malaga, were the last cities of Andalusia to surrender to the nationalist force of General Franco.
The Return To Prosperity
The second half of the 20th century saw phenomenal economic growth in Almeria. This growth was not just the result of an expanding tourist trade, but by the development of plastic covered green house that allowed intensive agriculture that made it possible to grow crops all year round.
After the death of General Franco in 1975 came the new constitution for the people, and a referendum was held by the population of Southern Spain for them to approve autonomous status for the region. However although there was a sizable vote in favour of autonomy, it was not the outright majority required.
But this decision was challenged by the government and Almeria became part of an autonomous Andalusia.