Plaza de la Constitution
by Fiona Flores Watson and Saskia Mier
Also known as, Plaza Vieja, this square in the centre of the old town is located close to the Cathedral and the Alcazaba. During the Muslim era, the tenth to fifteenth centuries, the square housed the souk (market). It was also a place for games, parties, bullfighting, processions and civic parades. During the Christian dominion it was known as the Plaza del “Juego de las Cañas”.
The square took on its definitive appearance in the middle of the nineteenth century, with arcades on the ground floor and two-story houses. The square has a slightly trapezoidal plan, and maintains the characteristic of the closed and portico squares of the nineteenth century. The square is dominated by the eclectic-style Town Hall, built between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The opposite side is arcaded, with a row of ficus trees (weeping fig) that have grown together into a squared hedge, providing a dense block of green. The clock on the main facade of the Town Hall interprets the popular melody of the Fandanguillo de Almería, every quarter of an hour, sounding the complete chords every hour on the hour.
Opposite the hotel is the Almeria Tourist Office, with next door the Centro de Interpretation Patrimonial. This is a modern, interactive museum explaining the history of Almeria in English and Spanish - it's a good introduction to the city for visitors to set a context for its history, and so they can get a flavour of what it has to offer.
Also in the large cloisters of the square is the boutique Plaza Vieja hotel and lounge, together with a hammam (Arab Baths) and quality Basque pintxos restaurant Taberna Joseba Añorga.
LOS COLORADOS MONUMENT
The center of the square holds “El Monumento de los Mártires de la Libertad” (Martyrs of Liberty), an emblematic monument dedicated to 24 liberal revolutionaries, who came to the beaches of Almeria wearing red coats to proclaim freedom and the constitution against the despotism of Fernando VII, and were shot on August 24, 1824.
This is a 1988 replica of the original monument, destroyed by the authorities in 1943 ahead of a visit to the city by General Franco. The original monument dated from 1868-1870 and was in the Plaza de Cádiz (current Puerta de Purchena), but in 1900 it was moved here to the Plaza Vieja, until its demolition in 1943. The original was made of stone, and this new one, rebuilt in 1988, by popular subscription, is made of marble. It consists of a large base, on which rises the column that serves as the starting point for the colorful Corinthian capital, topped by a bronze sphere, surrounded by spikes or rays of the sun. This monument is known as “Monumento or Pingurucho a los Coloraos”.
The Colorados were a group of 24 liberal revolutionaries who rose up against the tyrannical King Fernando VI in 1824, demanding the 1812 Cadiz Constitution be reinstated. This group is not dissimilar from Torrijos and Boyd 1831 adventure in Malaga.
Called the Colorados (coloured ones) due to the colour of their jackets, which were British-style, having set sail from Gibraltar for Almeria, they were captured and executed on 24 August 1824.
On one side of the monument it says: 'A la memoria de las illustres victimas de la libertad sacrificadas por el feroz despotismo en Almeria el dia 24 de Agosto 1824.'
On the other: "Este monumento levantado por subscripcion popular en honor de los martires de la libertad conocidos popularmente como Los Coloraos fue destruido por la dictadura en 1943 el ayuntamiento democratico de Almeria rinde homenaje a todos hombres y mujeres que han dado su vida por LA LIBERTAD con la reconstrucion de este monumento ALMERIA POR LA LIBERTAD. 24 Agosto 1988."