Vera, in Almería province, probably has one of the strangest foundation histories of any town in Andalucia. Soon after the invasion of the Moors, in 711 AD, the Phoenician – Roman settlement at Baria, on the coast at Villaricos, was abandoned. A new town was founded on the Esperito Santo hill just outside present-day Vera. The Moors called it Bayra. In 1518, an earthquake severely damaged the town. Legend has it that the monarch, Carlos I, instructed three surviving residents to fire an arrow into the air from the top of Espirito Santo and rebuild the town wherever it landed.
Vera was founded in the 16th century and extended in the 18th, so it is a relatively new town. The present-day Iglesia de Encarnación was originally built as a fortress to protect the inhabitants from Barbary pirates. Other monumental buildings include the 15th century Ayuntamiento, that, in addition to the town hall, now houses the tourist information office and the local museum. The Convento de la Victoria is also worth a visit. This is now an exhibition hall and hosts different exhibitions throughout the year. In January 2020 the exhibition was a history of Almeria from Neanderthal times to the present day in watercolours by various local artists.
On the southern outskirts of the town, on the road out to Vera Playa, is a rather magnificent bullring. It is the oldest bullring in Almeria and is built in a neo-Arabic style. Within it, there is a museum of bullfighting. The bullring is still in use and, when there are no fights scheduled, the whole place is open to visitors. The pens and alleys used to control the fighting bulls between arriving in the bullring and their entry into the arena is reminiscent of the passageways used for the same purpose, keeping wild animals away from the public, in the Roman amphitheatres.
Vera experienced a boom during the 19th century as a result of the mining in the area but then lapsed into some obscurity. Today Vera is a thriving town with shops, restaurants and various light industry on the outskirts. It cannot claim to be a tourist centre but it is working on it.
Four kilometres away, on the shoreline, is Vera Playa. There is a pretty paseo and three sandy beaches. Playazo is a naturist beach. The other two are called Las Marinas and Puerto Rey. All three are very popular in the summer. For those that prefer freshwater, then the Aquavera Acuatico is on the main road just behind the beaches. The aquapark is open from late May until early September.
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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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