The Port of Almeria is very well known to me from many holidays in Andalusia and Murcia Provinces. When driving east from Malaga, one takes the exit 438 off the main E-15 motorway and then crosses back underneath the motorway to take a wide curve around a massive, jumbled scenery of white, grey, orange and red rocks before a very steep downward bank to the port road running along the beautiful Gulf of Almeria. This port road passes many berths for cruise ships and ferries loading passengers and freight for Moroccan and Algerian ports, and then passes the high loading staithes of the formerly big trade of exporting iron ore. The Marquesado Jetty at the Port of Almeria was opened on 27th April 1904 by Alphonso XIII, the King of Spain.
The port exported iron ore from 1904 to 1996, when mining finished, and the main trade of the port then became the huge new trade of ferry and cruise passengers and freight ro-ro cargoes.
Cap de Gata lies twenty miles east south east of Almeria on a high headland topped by a white lighthouse of 18 metres in height, and built to warn ships to steer clear of the notorious Laja de Cabo reef, scene of many shipwrecks and loss of life. There is a pretty beach and crystal clear waters popular with divers. The Cap de Gata National Park has 63 kilometres of coastline and is situated between Almeria, Carboneras and Nijar. The Tabernas desert of long stretches of yellow sand lies to the north of Almeria, and is where the many film crews gathered to shoot the great ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, and the film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1962) starring Peter O’Toole and directed by David Lean, and ‘The Wind and the Lion’ (1975) starring John Milius. Some of the town wooden sets, scenes of deadly gun duels, remain as tourist attractions in the dry desert. The desert has less than 6 inches of rain per year, with temperatures of this hot desert often above 31ºC.
On 28th May 2000, Javier Garcia-Guinea and a team of geologists found a spectacular cache of clear, transparent crystals made of hydrous calcium sulphate in a cave in an abandoned silver mine four kilometres from Almeria near the coast. The cavity measures 26.2 feet by 5.9 feet by 5.6 feet and is the largest geode cache of crystals of length 20 centimetres ever found. The cave was formed during the Messinian salinity period six million years ago when the Mediterranean evaporated and left thick layers of sediment. Ten people can enter the cave at any one time, with the possibility of turning it into a tourist attraction with a window to view from outside. Robbers are the main threat with the site under police protection and covered by five tonnes of rocks. This giant crystal cave is another of the many interesting facets of the geology of the area, that includes huge deposits of iron ore, as well as copper and silver, and with the scale and colour of the different rocks from different geological periods being very impressive.
THE IRON ORE PORT OF ALMERIA
The Marquesado Iron Ore Mine lies one hundred kilometres (60 miles) from Almeria towards Granada, in the Marqesado de Zenete region at location 37º10′ North, 3º07′ west on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
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