Category: Once Upon a Time in Almería

The Denver Mine  

The surviving structures of the Denver mining plant hang precariously off the hillside above the town of Rodalquilar, inside the Cabo de Gata natural park. The buildings still bear black painted letters–”Dorm Block B,” “Guard Block D”–from a movie production almost 30 years ago. The foundations of the separation tanks create enormous circles at the bottom of the hill. Across the plain lies the Mediterranean ocean. The mining industry transformed the landscape of Almeria during the nineteenth century as modern technology allowed for large scale exploitation of iron, lead and other resources. Activity slowed during the Spanish Civil War in […]

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La Chanca  

“The perspective of Almeria, viewed from the heights of the Alcazaba, is one of the most beautiful in the world.” Juan Goytisolo, La Chanca Almeria’s Alcazaba, a Moorish castle perched above the city, overlooks the neighborhood of La Chanca. It is a historically impoverished zone made up of small dwellings built into the hillside on the outskirts of the city. The inhabitants painted their homes using whatever ingredients were available, resulting in a multicolored patchwork. Ruins still remain of a nineteenth century lead mining and transport operation that ran down the mountain to the nearby port. La Chanca has long […]

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The Final Duel  

Mortimer stands eyeing his Colt Buntline Special on the ground, which has just been shot out of his hand. Indio approaches holding a musical watch. Inside the watch is a picture of Mortimer’s sister, who shot herself while being raped by Indio. The two gunmen stand inside a large circle bounded by a low stone wall at the edge of town. In the background is only desert, a few dry shrubs and distant mountains. Manco approaches, offering his gunbelt and pistol to Mortimer before taking a seat on the low wall. The duel begins. As Indio starts to reach for […]

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NYT: Spain’s Building Spree Leaves Some Airports and Roads Begging to Be Used  

MADRID – In March, local officials inaugurated a new airport in Castellón, a small city on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. They are still waiting for the first scheduled flight. To justify the grand opening, Carlos Fabra, the head of Castellón’s provincial government, argued that it was a unique opportunity to turn an airport into a tourist attraction, giving visitors full access to the runway and other areas normally off-limits. This Sunday, it will be used as the starting point for part of Spain’s national cycling championships, featuring the three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador. http://mobile.nytimes.com/article?a=808391&f=111 Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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The Beaches of Cabo de Gata  

Tuesday’s Frugal Traveler column in the New York Times covers the undeveloped and (so far) undiscovered beaches of Cabo de Gata in Almeria, Spain. In fact, author Seth Kugel describes his ideal beach as: one that you come upon after a hilly, rocky hike over scrub-covered hills. It’s a half-moon cove of ashen sand flanked at either end by rock formations that look like giant Impressionistic sand castles. Instead of palms, occasional yellow and purple wildflowers dot the nearby hills; instead of mojitos there are mandarin oranges and nispero fruits bought at a farmer’s market; instead of warm Caribbean ripples, there […]

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Cleopatra in Almeria  

By the start of 1963, the ill-fated 20th Century Fox production of Cleopatra was three years in the making and tens of millions of dollars over budget. The film had lost its first director, suffered months of delays due to the star’s illness, and moved its operations from London to Rome to Egypt, rebuilding enormous sets and reshooting scenes along the way. The final cost was over $40 million dollars. Adjusting for inflation, it remains one of the most expensive films ever made.  In February, a boat arrived in the port of Almeria transporting roman carriages and other set decorations […]

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Satanic Messages Save a Decaying Old Church: La Iglesia de las Salinas  

The Iglesia de las Salinas has been slowly decaying since its construction in 1907. The century-old church lies the coast of Almería in the Cabo de Gata natural park. A combination of ocean winds and salt in the air–the church’s name comes from the fact that it sits next to a salt processing operation–have been literally eating away at the stone construction. The process has worn down the facade, making it appear much more advanced in years. However, recently the process of decay has accelerated, hastened by neglect and periodic vandalism. A faded billboard from 2007, the 100th anniversary of […]

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Insider Tips for Exploring Almeria  

The art-themed October-December issue of YeahBaby magazine, from discount British airline bmibaby, offers local travel tips from artists and entertainers. I was asked to provide a few insider recommendations for Almeria–the results are shown above.

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Casa del Cine Almeria  

A long-awaited film museum in Almeria, Spain, is finally set to open January 15. The city spent 5 years renovating a nineteenth century manor house which itself has an intriguing history. As I’ve blogged about previously, John Lennon spent three months there during the filming of How I Won the War in 1966. Below is a recent image from the tourism office of the museum lobby along with a photograph I took before the renovation on the second floor.

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Algarrobico  

Over a year ago I blogged about the background to the controversial hotel at Algarrobico on the coast of Almeria in southern Spain. It has been over four years since a court ruling delared the construction to be in violation of laws protecting the Cabo de Gata natural park and coastline and work on the hotel was stopped. However, the unfinished construction still stands, surrounded by four enormous cranes (one out of view). I was back there in August and climbed the peak across from the hotel to get this image.

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