Gérgal is home to an interesting castle, constructed in the Lombard style, which dominates the slopes and terraces of the village and, despite being built in the sixteenth century, remains in good condition today. The village has about 1000 inhabitants.
The town was once known to some as Xérgal. For a long time, its fortress guarded the crossroads that connected Fiñana with Tabernas and Almería. The tombs of the holy men show us that it was a lonely land inhabited from ancient times by Mozarabic and Muslim hermits. After the Christian conquest of 1489, the Catholic Monarchs gave the town of Gérgal, under a Lordship regime, to the Master of Santiago, Don Alonso de Cárdenas.
Gérgal joined the Moorish rebellion (1568-1570). The governor of the town was a Moor named Francisco Portocarrero, trusted by the old Christians who ended up being confined in the fortress and having their throats cut. When they had news of the imminent arrival of the Marqués de Los Vélez and his army, the Moors abandoned the town. After the Moorish rebellion, the town was repopulated with neighbours from outside the Kingdom of Granada, as ordered by the Pragmatic of Felipe II.
The nineteenth century brought with it the abolition of the señoríos (manors) in 1835. Gérgal joined in with the popular cultivation of the Ohanes grape, like many other towns in Almería, whilst at the same time, iron mines were exploited, although in the hands of foreign companies. An overhead cable-way carried the ore to the railway line. This prosperity only lasted a couple of decades into the twentieth century before it started to fade.
THINGS TO SEE
Castillo de Gérgal
The historical antecedents of the castle date back to the Muslim era, due to its great strategic value as a place of surveillance at the crossroads that linked Almería with the Sierra de las Filabres. During the Re-conquest, the Christian troops occupied it and demolished it to prevent uprisings. We know that the reconstruction and modification of the castle took place in the first half of the sixteenth century, since the existence of a castle on the site of the old Muslim fortress is recorded in a 1555 document, with a square plan and semi-circular towers attached at its four corners. The castle played a prominent role during the Moorish rebellion in 1568. Inside, the space is divided into four smaller and equal squares occupied by the different rooms, currently conditioned and used as a home. Located north of the town, off the AL-4405.
Puente de Gérgal
The bridge is an important engineering work of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its construction began in 1880, but due to problems that appeared in the land, it was delayed for about 28 years. Around 1908, the work was completed under the direction of the railway engineer José Molero Levenfeld. Made with clay stone blocks in the arches and walls, it has a large central arch over the main channel of the Rambla de Gérgal and two secondary arches, one on each side, to host a large avenue of water. Located on Calle Molero.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen
The church was built from 1640 onwards, opposite the site occupied by the previous Iglesia de Santa María, which was destroyed during the Moorish Rebellion. It was renovated in 1771 according to the project of the architect Francisco Ruiz Garrido de Vera, although due to lack of budget it was not carried out as planned. The building consists of a rectangular floor plan with three naves, a Baroque dressing room from 1745 that houses its Patron Saint and a bell tower. Located in Plaza de los Caidos.
Ermita de San Sebastián
The date of the Chapel is unknown, however, it appears in Gérgal’s plan in Pascual Madoz’s “Geographical-Statistical-Historical Dictionary” made between 1845-1850. On its main facade reads the inscription: “Ermita San Sebastián (1734)” , although the date has not been verified. It consists of a single nave with the high altar somewhat elevated, and its roof is a gabled wooden truss with a triangular profile. Restored in the year 2000, it houses the Patron Saint of Gérgal, San Sebastián. Located on Calle Sebastián Pérez.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VLLAGE
Observatorio Astronómico Hispano-Alemán de Calar Alto (CAHA) .
The Calar Alto Hispano-German Astronomical Observatory is situated in the Sierra de Los Filabres, north of the province of Almería, and is operated jointly by the Max-Planck Institute of Astronomy in Heidelberg (Germany) , and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (CSIC) in Granada. It is made up of three domes that house various telescopes, laboratories, workshops, offices and lodging for work and scientific personnel. The three reflector telescopes range in size from 1.23m to 3.5m in diameter (the largest telescope in continental Europe). Located north of Gérgal, off the AL-4404.
Visits are by appointment only.
Tel: 950 63 25 00
Oasys Mini Holywood
These days, visitors to Oasys Mini Holywood (formerly known as Mini Hollywood, then just Oasis) can enjoy a mock bank hold-up and shootout, staged at noon, 5pm and 8pm daily, as well as stopping off for a cold beer at the Western-style saloon, which stages Can-Can shows. There is also a pool, a cactus garden, and a zoo with 800 animals of 175 species, including giraffes, lions, zebras and buffalo, and parrot demonstrations.
Desierto de Tabernas
The Tabernas Desert is located on a strip of 11,625 hectares to the north of the city of Almería, between the Sierra de Filabres and Sierra Alhamilla mountain ranges. It is considered the only real desert on the whole European continent and its scenery is tremendously stimulating and startling. With a semiarid Mediterranean climate, rainfall does not even reach 250mm per year and the average temperature for the whole year is over 17°C. In this singular group of desert-like landscapes, xerophytic vegetation grows, autochthonous to the southeast of Spain, with monospecific species unique to the European continent, such as Euzomo dendron bourgaeanum, Limoniun insignis, or parasitic plants such as Cynomo rium coccineum. An abundance of bird species can be seen, especially over the dry gullies and river beds, in the walls of which they find places to hide and build nests. Worth mentioning are the royal swift (Apus melva), the rock martin (Hirundo rupestris), or the jackdaw (Corvus monedula), among others. The presence of the bullfinch (Rhodopechys githaginea) and of a large number of birds typical to the steppes, stone curlews, sandgrouse and crested larks are worthy of note. Despite so much natural beauty, one of the area’s most exploited resources is its potential as a film set. Many of the backdrops to spaghetti westerns are actually shots of the Tabernas desert.
Visitors to Gérgal should try local dishes such as gurullos con conejo o liebre (pasta with rabbit or hare), caldos con aves de monte y hinojo (stock made with wild birds and fennel), potaje de garbanzo con bacalao y acelgas (chickpea, cod and chard stew), sopa de ajo (garlic soup) and olla de trigo (wheat stew). Sweet treats include mantecados de almendra (almond lard cakes), turrón (almond nougat), membrillo (quince cheese) and bollos de mosto (grape bread).
Popular festivals in Gérgal are Moros y Cristianos, Semana Santa and Feria y Fiestas en Honor a la Virgen del Carmen. More>
The tourist office of Gérgal is located in the town hall. More>