Teguise, History in the Shadow of the Risco
We invite you to discover the different faces of the former capital of Lanzarote: the historical refuge of its peaceful town centre, the agricultural essence of its villages and the untamed landscape of Famara.
The paving stones of La Villa de Teguise are alive with history. Wandering through its cobbled corners envelops the traveller in the aroma of centuries past, from the time when this beautiful town (named after the daughter of Guadarfía, the last indigenous king) was the capital of Lanzarote, until the powerful port activity of Arrecife led it to take over in 1852.
But nowhere beats this municipality in the art of maintaining its essence. Declared a site of historical, architectural and artistic interest, its main square is presided over by some lordly lions, the object of desire of curious tourists and adventurous children.
These sculptures passed through the hands of a well known local family, the Spinolas. “I don’t know what it is about my grandfather’s lions, I don’t know what emanates from them, but without being a work of art in the strict sense of the word, people approach them, stroke their backs, examine them and, in a spontaneous impulse, pull out their cameras to photograph them”, the author Leandro Perdomo Spínola wrote in apparent surprise.
These are the lions that guard the Timple House Museum, a place that pays homage to the small stringed instrument that is the symbol of the sound of the archipelago. The artisans of La Villa helped spread the timple to the rest of the Canary Islands and today’s luthiers continue to maintain this emblem of the island’s identity. To enter the museum is to discover the history of the instrument and its manufacturing process, as well as to be surprised by other curious relatives of the guitar played in different regions of the planet.
As you leave the Plaza de la Constitución, take a last look at the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which still stands proudly after overcoming a long history of looting and fires at the hands of the fierce Barbary pirates who unsuccessfully tried to defeat the islanders’ morale.
Continuous attacks were repelled from the Santa Barbara Castle, a fortress located on the Guanapay Volcano, where you can discover the history of these sieges through illustrations of famous pirates, models of their imposing ships and educational activities for children.
A more joyful invasion usually takes place on Sundays with the stalls of the famous flea market. Music floats in the air, mingling with the bustle of the crowded cafés and the displays of colourful items, which range from delicate handcrafted products to delicious local delicacies and souvenirs essential for visitors.
When La Villa takes a break from this hustle and bustle, walking around it calmly is a delight. The colonial style merges with the traditional island architecture of immaculate white walls and beautiful green wooden doors. Shall we wander down Calle de Los Árboles? It would be difficult to find more peace than here in this small, green street. What are those aromas rising there among the murmur of the leaves swayed by the wind? It smells of sancocho stew, red mojo sauce, traditional mantecado biscuits…
With a full stomach and a satisfied soul, it’s time to head for one of the island’s three tourist centres, Costa Teguise. Located very close to the capital and the airport, this enclave offers a wide variety of accommodation, as well as leisure activities ranging from water sports to golf, and has a water park for the smallest tourists (and those who are not so little).
You can have a swim on the beaches of El Ancla, Las Cucharas, Bastián and Jablillo and then go shopping in the Pueblo Marinero, inspired by Manrique.
You’ll recover your calm when you arrive at Teseguite, where you will find houses scattered around, timidly occupying a land that is perfect for livestock and agriculture. The fertile plains produce cereals and onions, and are dressed in green when the sky deigns to water this grateful land. You can climb to the chapel of San Leandro, a small building from the 17th century. From its well cared for square you can see the towns of El Mojón and Los Valles.
And it’s time now to retrace our steps to the latter. A crevice in the centre of the island connected to the Peñas del Chache gives rise to Los Valles, scattered with the characteristic white houses of an island that seeks protection from the pleasant but burning sun. These terraced houses are dotted on both sides of the mountain that borders an area whose fertile land is a gift for those who work it and for those who enjoy its delicacies, with the potato as its hallmark.
Our journey through Teguise ends at the highest point. Raise your eyes to the imposing Risco de Famara cliffs, which preside over a kilometre-long, wild beach offering incredible sunsets. The wind ruffles the sand and gives wings to lovers of surfing in all its variations, who ride the waves with the Chinijo Archipelago as a witness to their skills.
The village of La Caleta, invaded every summer by the islanders, preserves the charm of times gone by thanks to its unpaved sandy streets and its unaltered original buildings. Famara has many faithful devotees, and the film director Pedro Almodóvar was drawn to film some of the scenes in “Los abrazos rotos” here.
Don’t you feel like becoming a devotee yourself too? 🙂