Amazing Almeria – The Tabernas Desert

The spectacular Tabernas Desert. Credit: Jules

There are many people that live and visit Almeria without knowing that it home to the driest region in Europe.

The Tabernas Desert is one of Almeria’s truly amazing places, covering over 280 square kilometres with its beautiful and unique arid landscape, over 3,000 hours of annual sunshine, less than 250mm of rainfall and temperatures that can surpass 40 degrees Celsius the area is often referred to the Badlands of Almeria.

A geological wonder

Just north of the capital of Almeria, the area has long been studied and investigated by universities from around the world, due to its important and unique geology. Even though the fauna and flora seem sparce, it is a haven for birdwatchers who come to see Bonelli’s and Golden eagles that breed in the nearby Sierra de Alhamilla. The area is now a natural park with much of it protected by the regional government as there are plants which are on the endangered species list.

There is much to explore, with 4×4 tours that can be organised from the town of Tabernas, taking in some of the marvels that the area has to offer. If you are feeling a little braver, you could hike along some of the trails and ‘Ramblas’ or climb to the top of the emblematic ‘El Faro’, which has been seen in numerous films over the decades. If you do decide on this, remember to take plenty of water and slap on the sunscreen.

More than 500 films have been made in the Desert

Since the 1950s, the breath-taking scenery has long been the backdrop for more than 500 films, some of the most famous being the “Spaghetti Western” films of the 60s and 70s. Its barren landscape can often be seen in some iconic films such as ‘A fistful of dollars’, ‘Conan the barbarian’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ and more recently the last ‘Terminator’ movie.

In the spaghetti western days elaborate sets were built for many of these productions, there were at one point 14 western cities across the area. Three of which still survive today. They are still used for film production, but they are mainly known as tourist attractions, where you can enter the western towns, witness cowboy shows and walk into an authentic western salon, they are a little bit of the Wild West in the middle of Europe. In the Tabernas itself you can visit the recently renovated, eleventh century Moorish style castle imposing over the town, which in 1993 was declared a monument of Cultural Interest.

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Written by

Julian Phillips

Born in the UK, has lived in 9 countries, before finally coming to Spain in 2015. Currently living in Almeria and working out of the EWN office in Mojacar.