The province of Almería is no stranger to foreign visitors, and present-day tourists are fortunate that their forebears left behind so much of their respective cultures. By sea and land to Andalucía’s south-eastern gateway came the Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians and Moors, all of whom left ample evidence of their passing – which we can see for ourselves to this day. You need look no farther than the red stone of the Moorish Alcazaba rising above the city of Almería, an enormous structure that dominates the city skyline and whose construction involved 20,000 men. Indeed, it was the Moors who founded this city and, under the Omayyad Caliphate, it became the most important seaport in Iberia. Then came the Reconquista by the Catholic monarchs, who later built Almería’s impressive cathedral and whose Castilian roots can still be seen in the province’s northern towns and villages. The countryside of Almería is a study in contrasts. Its 230 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline is dotted with limestone cliffs and volcanic outcrops punctuated by long stretches of sandy beaches and small coves. In the Cabo de Gata-Níjar nature park, Andalucía’s largest sea-land reserve, skin-diving and saltwater fishing are popular activities in its crystal-clear waters; while farther inland the landscapes are mountainous, arid and volcanic. The Tabernas desert, only 40 kilometres from the provincial capital, bears such a close resemblance to the deserts of New Mexico that it has been the backdrop for scores of “spaghetti westerns” – hence the fascinating “World of Cinema” excursion so popular among tourists. To the west are mountain slopes, pine forests, trout streams and the soaring Sierra Nevada mountain range. Tourism today is mainly centred on the city of Almería and the towns of Roquetas de Mar, Aguadulce and El Ejido; while Almerimar is another outstanding resort centre with all kinds of sports facilities. As for the province’s golf courses… their lush greenery provides a stark contrast with the dry Almerian countryside, especially in summer. They include Almerimar (designed by Gary Player), Desert Springs (the first Arazona-style desert course in Europe), Playa Serena, Valle del Este, Cortijo Grande, La Envía, Alborán, Marina Golf Mojácar, Aguilón and Playa Macenas.