The map summarizes some of the outstanding items from ten centuries of military history in the city of Almería
This morning I noticed an article on the La Voz de Almería site. It was the 13th part in a series of articles about the history of Almería.
The first in the series of articles was published in September 2020. Here is a link to the first article in the series.
I will be publishing Google translations of all the articles on the site in due course.
I have also added a new category of stories called Almería History. I have created a link in the main menu of the site so people will be able to view a list of all of the articles all in one place (once they are published of course).
Read More for a Google translation of this first article in the series..
Stories from Almeria about the landscape (I): On the defensive
A series that aspires to intervene in the perception of geographical and territorial reality
The city of Almería offers us an authentic catalog of defensive circumstances, which began with its own founding act, in 955: the closing of the walls that descend from the Alcazaba hill to the sea, surrounding the medina. To this foundational wall are added others, which give protection to the suburbs of the Hollow and the Oratory. This set of walls will face different sieges and attacks, some successful, like that of the crusade of 1147, others frustrated, like that of Jaime II in 1309.
The city founded in 955 is now 1,065 years old. Of these, the first 524 (955-1489, with ten years of Christian parenthesis) correspond to the Hispano-Muslim period. Its Christian history lasts 541 years. In 203, when the city turned 1,048 years old, it had spent as much time under the crescent as under the cross.
Alcazaba and Mercy barracks preside over the urban scene of the Almedina.
Crucial moment in the history of the city, the Christian capture supposes its re-founding as a curious prison in the Templar way (of friars and soldiers), on the border of the Moors, and with a Moorish rearguard. The cathedral-fortress, the western bastion of the Alcazaba and the Cárdenas tower are the architectural expression of a time when the city is known to be in a permanent state of siege.
The improvement of the defenses of the city, with the layout of a new wall canvas, with bastions or forts adapted to the new artillery capacities, will be a constant as long as its border condition persists, well into the 18th century. To finance the constant repairs of the walls, the proceeds from the lease of the herbajes (pastures) of the Níjar field, still under the jurisdiction of the lands of the city of Almería, are used.
The new Bourbon regime introduces elements of enlightened modernity in a motley society that begins to travel through history at very different speeds. The Mercy barracks “lands” on the Almedina site, next to and on what was the main mosque. "Solar de la Almedina" is not a literary device. The foundational nucleus of the city had been devastated by successive seismic movements, since 1522, showing that we are also bordering on tectonic matters. Nor is it a literary device that of “lands”. The layout and scale of the barracks make its exogenous condition clear, and have severely conditioned the redevelopment of what was the founding city. But, paradoxes of history, in an eventual military confiscation lies the main hope of an urban intervention that restarts the heart of the city, for the benefit of all the people of Almeria.
The memory of Almería as a walled city has weakened over time.
The explosion of the powder magazine is the local signal of the beginning of a liberal and modernizing revolution that has been occupying us for two centuries, and that we have not quite unraveled. The brilliance and shock of each of its episodes prevent us from appreciating them as pieces of a unitary process, a condition that nonetheless provides them with explanation and meaning.
The landing of the "Coloraos", the demolition of the wall that opens the way to the Paseo, the naval siege of the cantonalists of Cartagena, the martyrology of the civil war (the high point of the long revolution we are talking about), under the aerial bombs and the marine howitzers, the reception of the "disbanded", the reunion with the subsoil in the Air Raid Shelters, under the foundations of the old wall, the coastal bunkers, the trenches ... data from turbulent times that until ago little did we think we had been overcome.
Among all of them, there is one in which it is worth stopping, due to the profound and inadvertent consequences that it has brought to the current operation of the city of Almería: the Álvarez de Sotomayor camp, today the Legion base. Located in the neighboring town of Viator, its history has evolved, adapting to different geopolitical and strategic scenarios, always linked to Spanish interests in North Maghreb Africa.
Gone are the times when recruits were the protagonists of weekends in the city center. The current military deployment, more professional and discreet, is diluted in Viator, in Huércal de Almería, in the city itself and the nuclei of its municipality: in a small metropolitan agglomeration that lacks management elements adapted to its new nature.
The Mediterranean highway crosses the Andarax to pass next to the Legion base and continue towards Níjar.
Perhaps that explains the route of the Mediterranean Highway in the section jokingly called “Ronda de Almería”, so useful for the shipment of troops and equipment from the Base as it is irrelevant for the mobility of an overwhelmed and blurred city that suffers from dysfunctions every day caused by the lack of a border road distributor and, above all, by the lack of a clear vision of your needs and options.
Almería is a city on the defensive. Other aspects (the always critical management of water, a changing social stratification, the periphery or "cornering", the fluctuation of export economic cycles, the shift of the population towards the coast, the leading role of its territory, the development of the functions urban areas, the establishment of a dual society, isolation, abandonment, overflow and alienation, the crisis of the Almeria agricultural model ...) also have a powerful narrative capacity about our “being here”, and will be the object of attention in this collection. But surely neither explains our being as much as the defensive condition.