Alhama de Almeria, situated in the Valley of Andarax, is approximately 25km from Almeria city, at 520m above sea level. Famous for its thermal springs, the past of the town is intimately connected with the Arab culture. The very name of the town Alhama comes from “alhamman” which means thermal baths. Although the town was founded at an earlier date the main influence on it was during the centuries that the Arabs lived there. When Almeria was under the rule of Abd-al-Rahman III, he expanded on some towns and founded others in this strategically sited valley behind the coastal port he needed to protect.
The roads in the region have been greatly improved in recent years and it is a very easy drive from the coast and seems incredible that the scenery can change so much in such a short time. From the arid desert behind Almeria the route swings left into this beautiful, fertile valley where the rivers Nacimiento and Andarax meet and then leads you to the stunning Alpujarras
The Moorish influence is obvious in the town, in the features of its streets, in the remains of the defensive fortress which occupies a promontory about 50 metres from the edge of the old houses of the town, and of course in the thermal baths. These baths can still be enjoyed today and perhaps explain the presence of the rather grand Hotel San Nicholas, which is located at the side of the original baths.
Another reason to stay here is the proximity of the Chalcolithic archaeological
site of Los Millares, just 4 km away. It was discovered in 1891 when the
Almería-Linares railway line was being constructed. Los Millares was a
fortified settlement dating from 2700 BC and is well worth a visit to see the
excavations and so interesting to realise that the climate was different
then. There were forests that sheltered deer and wild boar and the river
was navigable up from the sea and was used to bring the copper ore down from the Sierra de Gador.
When the Moors were expelled from Spain in the 15th century, the area became a feudal estate under the control of Gutierre de Cárdenas, a relation of King Ferdinand and whom he had assisted in the war of Granada. The chronicles of these events are carefully conserved in the parochial archives and allow the present generation to know the history of the town.
Alhama is one of the five main towns of the province in the cultivation of the vine, which can be seen growing up the slopes and the resulting wine is evidence of the determination of the farmers to cultivate every fertile square foot of land, however high or hard to reach.
The local holidays take place between 6th and 8th Decemer in honour of Saint Nicholas of Bari and the Immaculate Conception. The summer fiestas of the town are celebrated from 22nd to 25th July, and other minor fiestas are held in honour of Saint Marcos, May Day, Saint Antonio, Saint Juan and the Virgen of the River.Also worth seeing are the typically alhameñan fiestas on Resurrection Sunday The town follows the tradition of having big Nativity Scenes before Christmas.
Places to see on the outskirts of the town include the “Park of Rosalía”, the “Waterfall” The “ Nicholas Salmerón Walk” , la Plaza de España and the viewing points “Valle de Andarax” and the “Balcony of the seven towns”. There are a variety of walks in the Sierra de Alhama, some are worth doing for their historic interest and others simply to enjoy the beautiful countryside of Almeria.