For many years Almuñécar has been a favourite holiday destination for Spanish families. With two long beaches, plenty of fish restaurants and beach bars plus the usual mix of International restaurants you are never short of places to eat or drink. One of the reasons Almuñécar is popular is that many of its bars carry on the tradition of a drink and a tapas.
Increasingly Almuñécar is becoming more attractive to foreign resident tourists although, so far, it has managed to stay off the tour company destination lists, and to find out why it is appearing on the tourist map, there is no better way than to take a historical and nature tour of the town.
The tour starts at Plaza de Kuwait. Here you will find an aquarium that specialises in Mediterranean and local species of aquatic flora and fauna.
Appropriately the tour now takes you to the tourist office that is housed in La Najarra Palace, a 19th century building that was built in a neo Arabic style complete with beautifully landscaped gardens.
From there it is a short walk to El Majuelo Botanical Park where you can see species of trees and shrubs collected from all over the tropics. Next to the botanical park is the remains of a Phoenician and later Roman garum and fish salting factory.
Almuñécar was an important Phoenician settlement. With Penon del Santo jutting into the sea only connected to the land by a narrow spit, it conformed to the Phoenician ideal settlement site. In those days the settlement was called Sexi. The Penon is a rocky outcrop overlooking both beaches. Climbing to the top is no great hardship and worth it for the views. The cross on the mirador at the top was erected in 1900.
Leaving Penon del Santo you are close to the Plaza de Abderraman where you will find the Ornithological Park. Here there are 1,500 tropical birds representing over 100 species. For those interested in cacti there is also an extensive cactus garden.
The next stop on our tour is the Castillo de San Miguel. Built between the 11th and 14th centuries and restored in the 21st, the castle overlooks and guards the town. Within its walls is the Municipal Museum where you will find models of the town in earlier periods that give you an idea of what Almuñécar looked like in Phoenician and Roman days. It is interesting to see how the sea levels have changed in the last 2,500 years.
Leaving the castle walk to the Cueva de Siete Palacios. This is in what was a Roman part of the town and is a series of natural caves which had been converted to spaces, possibly for storage purposes. Nowadays it houses the archaeological museum which contains many artefacts from the Phoenician and Roman periods including an Egyptian vase dating back to 1500 BC, proof of the trade between the eastern Mediterranean and Andalucia.
Finally, behind the castle, in a narrow street in the shopping area keep your eyes open for a section of preserved Roman aqueduct that, 2000 years ago, was part of the water distribution system. At various points fountains were installed to allow the citizens to use the fresh water. One remains today.