In the far northeast of Andalucia, within 1 kilometre of the border with Murcia, is a small town with hidden attractions that would have remained virtually unknown if not for a remarkable discovery in 1999. The largest geode in Europe was discovered in an iron and lead mine near the town of Pulpi.
A geode is a cavity in rock that contains crystals. You will have seen small examples for sale in tourist shops, hollow rocks, split open to reveal amethyst or quartz crystals within. Unlike those examples that will fit into a display cabinet, the geode at Pulpi is 8 metres long and nearly 2 metres in diameter. The gypsum crystals within are up to 2 metres long yet still leave room in the cavity for up to 10 people. The only geode in the world that is larger is in Mexico but that one is not accessible to the public, whilst the Pulpi geode is. Only the original discoverers, a few scientists and a group of promotional photographers have had the privilege of sitting within the geode. Gypsum is a mineral called calcium sulphate dihydrate and it is very soft, number 2 on the Mohs scale (talc is the softest at number 1, diamond is the hardest at 10). The crystals are easily damaged so are now viewed through an aperture in the rock. Scientists have calculated that the geode formed over a period of 2 million years ending about 60,000 years ago.
The mine was opened to the public in August 2019. It is proving hugely popular with tours booked weeks in advance. You must book your tickets on line at The official site for the Pulpi geode
Having discovered the geode, people are now discovering other attractions of Pulpi itself, ones previously known only to locals and a few tourists who have discovered the area. First among them has to be the beaches. Pulpi has 10 kilometres of shoreline and fourteen beaches. They vary from small sandy coves with pristine, clear water, ideal for diving and snorkelling, to long beaches for the sun worshippers and urban beaches backed by cafes and bars. The coastal area is named after a small fishing village called San Juan de los Terreros. The easternmost beach, Los Cocedores, is a small fine grained golden sandy cove with wild, natural cliffs at either end complete with sandstone caves. The remote beach of Las Palmeras is in the estuary of a rambla. Mar Serena is so named for the sheltered serenity of its waters, great for kids. Los Nardos is a fossil beach, an ancient shoreline that is now raised above sea level. It is also the best conserved beach in eastern Almeria. And so it goes on, beaches to cater for every taste.
Although Pulpi has been inhabited since prehistoric times there is little to show. There is some evidence of Neolithic occupation in the caves at Los Cocedores, the remains of a Roman villa at Benzal, five kilometres north west of Pulpi town and the Moors left a Noria, a device for supplying water to smallholdings in the area, on Los Palmeras beach. Plagued by repeated raids by Barbary pirates, the population remained thin on the ground until the 18th century when the castle at San Juan de los Terreros was built as a lookout and to help defend the coast. The castle, built in 1764, is the oldest building in Pulpi. It is one of the coastal fortifications initiated by Carlos III. Today it is a ‘Centre for Andalucian Coastal Interpretation’.
The church of San Miquel, in the centre of Pulpi, is the second oldest building, having been completed in 1801. It is built in a style called neoclassical, a far less elaborate, simpler, form of architecture than the classical style that preceded it.
Have you ever wondered where all those Iceberg lettuces come from? Well, millions of them come from Pupli. Agriculture has always been the mainstay of the population and lack of water has always been its biggest problem. In the 1960s subterranean water was used to irrigate the fields and Pulpi started to produce tomatoes, melons and lettuce. However, the subterranean water was over exploited and Pulpi had to turn to its neighbour, Mercia, for supplies of water. Meanwhile, many of the growers moved further down the coast. Back in Pulpi, the remaining growers decided to try the famous Iceberg lettuce, for the hearts, and Lollo rosso, utilising their restricted water supply and a new form of drip irrigation. Today, between September and May, from the air, the fields resemble a verdant, green, golf course. The growers at Pulip have earned a denominacion de origin for their lettuce hearts.
Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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Submitted by Sam on 28 Oct 2019
Please can you tell me the opening times for the Geode virtual reality at castle at SAN Juan de lots Terreros for nov/ Dec. Thanks
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