Is There A Desert In Europe?

It’s common knowledge that Europe is the only continent without a desert. However, this is not strictly correct; in fact, some arid places around Europe are qualified under the geographical definition of “desert.” The badlands of Southeastern Spain, for example, belong to the category, specifically, the Desierto De Tabernas, also known as “mainland Europe’s only desert.”

Almeria City is well known for its Moorish architecture and world-class sunny beaches. Who would’ve thought that 20 miles from this paradise lays a different kind of breathtaking landscape: the Tabernas Desert? This unique spot, north of the town, has a hot basin located between two low sierras, and was formed by rain shadows that came from the wet winds of the Mediterranean, dropping all the moisture in the hills.

Tabernas reaches a temperature of 118 F° during summer, same as many places you’ll go in Europe. It also receives less than 3 inches of rainfall during the dry season, and is home to lizards, cacti and snakes – just like any other desert.

Believe it or not, Tabernas also became a popular shooting location for some of Hollywood’s movie crews due to its rugged scenery. Specifically, films called spaghetti westerns displayed the different landscapes of Tabernas, making it more popular in the world.

Aside from the Tabernas of Spain, lands along Almeria, like Greece, Romania, and Iceland, possess their own semi-desserts. Due to the climate of the country, the Santorini and Anafi islands are classified as hot deserts according to the Koppen system. The plain found in Romania, which the locals call the Oltenian Sahara, is also technically a desert, largely due to deforestation, in which the trees were chopped down under Communism. The inside of Iceland, however, definitely ranks up there as the most interesting pseudo-desert found in the world. The land is rich in precipitation, but not a thing grows there because the porous lava rock absorbs the water as soon as it falls to the ground.