ALHAMA DE ALMERÍA
Alhama de Almería is the birthplace of Nicolás Salmerón, former President of the Primera República. This is why the town is also known as Alhama de Salmerón, or Alhama la Seca. However, the most important defining feature of the town is its Balneario de San Nicolás (San Nicolas Spa) , strongly valued by the locals, which has hot springs maintaining a temperature of 46 degrees all year round. It has around 3,600 inhabitants.
Alhama de Almería has always been considered the watchtower of the Andarax Valley. Its origins have been associated with the Muslim era, however, prehistoric remains (such as the Loma de Galera necropolis) have been found in the surrounding area, as well as other discoveries which strongly suggest a Roman presence in the town.
Features of the Al-Andalus era are easily seen in the design of the town’s streets, the water baths of Arabic origin and the remains of a fort. After the conquest by the Catholic Monarchs in 1489, the area of Marchena became part of the estate of Don Gutierre de Cárdenas, the family of King Fernando. With the expulsion of the Moors, the village was totally abandoned from 1570 onwards, and was subjected to constant pillaging from the Moors hiding in the mountains. Its repopulation, from 1573, was very difficult as it was in a dangerous area with a lack of water, its springs having dried up after the earthquake of 1522.
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Alhama de Almería underwent strong economic growth, with a huge supply of workers to the mining areas and the development of agriculture due to the cultivation of the Ohanes grape. This economic development gave rise to an emerging middle class who gave impetus to projects such as the construction of the spa.
THINGS TO SE
Balneario San Nicolás
The San Nicolás Spa is 445m above sea level on the slopes of the Sierra de Gádor mountains, near the River Andarax. The water springs up at the foot of a ridge called Vilano in the form of two hypothermal spas inside a grotto, where the waters merge together in a mine. The crystal-clear waters are odorless and sharp-tasting, and once the waters cool down, they leave sediment behind. The waters are rich in sulphur, bicarbonates, calcium and magnesium and are of medium mineralization, emerging from the ground at 46ºC, meaning they are hypothermal. The Spa was built in 1877, coinciding with the Golden Age of spa bathing. It was here that families from all over the province of Almeria came to socialize. Just like at other Andalusian baths, dances, literary meetings and conferences were staged, along with other leisure and cultural activities. Today, the Balneario San Nicolás is a 3-star hotel. Located on Calle Baños.
Castillo Los Castillejos
The existing remains of this small fortress are scarce, although archaeological excavations have allowed for its structure to be determined. It was formed by a walled enclosure that surrounded the entire upper surface of the hill, adapting to the terrain, and by two towers. Among the materials found were fragments of storage vessels, thought to correspond to the Nasrid period. Located west of Calle Paraiso.
Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari
The Church dates to the sixteenth century, although the first documents that refer to it are from the late seventeenth century. After the growth of the Moorish population in 1569, with the burning of the Churches, the Alhama Church was in ruins. In 1672, the Duke of Maqueda, Lord of Marchena, ordered that the Church be erected. In the eighteenth century, the decision was made to expand it. The documents permitting this modification were signed on January 18, 1747. The Civil War turned the temple into a municipal market, with all the images and liturgical clothes burned, although the archive was saved by deceiving the arsonists, who were apparently satisfied with a single book. Located on Calle Sacristia.
Ermita de San Antonio de Padua
The Chapel was constructed in 1757 by some of the residents of Alhama. The hermitage has undergone various restorations since its inception, such as in the 1940s, when the central dome collapsed and the space for the sacristy was sold. It was from this point that the church began to take the shape it holds today. Located in Plaza San Antonio.
Café La Tertulia
This is another emblematic building which was constructed at the beginning of the twentieth century by a group of parraleros (workers). It was at this time that the town had particular significance due to its production of grapes. Inside, you can see grand lamps and Venetian mirrors. Located in Plaza de los Decididos.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
This is a Neoclassical-style bridge approximately 26m high and 45m long, structured in two bodies, the first one directly over the channel, made up of a single semi-circular arch; the second is made up of three arches of the same type, the central one being larger than the lateral ones. According to Tapia Garrido, it was an integral part of a Roman road that started in Cástulo and ended in Urci. The beautiful construction that we can see today seems to be an eighteenth-century reconstruction, coinciding with the time of the great public works carried out by the monarch, Carlos III. Located south east of Alhama de Almería on Calle Gravina.
Ermita del Río
The Chapel is surrounded by orange trees and some farmhouses. The hermitage was restored by the residents of Alhama, together with the Brotherhood of the Virgen del Río, and the roads and parking lot were also adapted. Located on the right bank of the Andarax River.
Loma de Galera
This site is the location of an important megalithic necropolis made up of some 38 tombs with different typologies that can be dated to the third millennium BC, with clear relations to the nearby archaeological site of Los Millares and with other necropolises and settlements of the Copper Age. The site has a developed, circular structure and a wall that have been damaged by cultivation work. Located south east of Alhama de Almería, off Calle Gravina.
Those who want to taste the stand-out gastronomic delicacies in Alhama de Almería will have to try the cold meats, consisting mostly of pork, migas (fried breadcrumbs served with pork), puchero de trigo (wheat stew) and fritada de conejo con pollo (fried rabbit with chicken).
Popular festivals in Alhama de Almería are Fiesta de San Nicolás de Bari, Inmaculada Concepción, Fiestas de Verano and San Marcos. More>