Almeria, on the south coast of Andalusia, began life as a Phoenician settlement, became a thriving port under the Romans and was later a headquarters of Barbary pirates. Even today it perpetuates a faintly North African mood. The city's dazzling white houses and 17th century Gothic cathedral fortress overlook a sweeping bay (Almeria's name derives from the Arabic 'mirror of the sea'). Also visit the Moorish Alcazaba (fortress) and the ruined Castillo de San Cristobal, which overlooks the city and harbour. From Almeria visit Granada, so blessed with architectural and historical splendour that the entire city has been declared a national monument. Also within reach on a shore visit are the lunar-like landscapes of Tabernas, setting of many classic films and spaghetti westerns.