The most impressive castles in the Canary Islands

When we think of Spanish castles, those located on the peninsula always come to mind, or it is more common to think of them. Likewise, when we talk about the Canary Islands we do the same with its imposing landscapes. However, the islands have incredible historical sites and towers and fortresses are part of them. In this article we will talk about the most impressive castles in the Canary Islands. Read on!

Castles in the Canary Islands: history and construction

The fortunate islands have a large number of bastions, lookout points, towers and fortifications along their coastline. While the best preserved castles in the Canary Islands have been integrated into the urban centers as unique buildings and living witnesses of a past full of history, many others are located near the coasts, even in the sea itself.

Constructions determined by the insular condition of the Archipelago

Due to their condition as island territories, the great majority of castles in the Canary Islands arose from the need to defend the different islands from the threat of possible maritime attacks, whether by invading peoples or even pirates. 

Therefore, with some occasional exceptions, the vast majority of castles preserved in the Canary Islands are of an urban and coastal nature, and defensive constructions in the form of towers, bastions, coastal forts, lookout posts and even bunkers for the storage of artillery can be found throughout the territory.

Due to its particular historical development and its late Castilian conquest, the Canarian castles, in comparison to their peninsular counterparts, are eminently late in terms of their chronology, the oldest ones appearing around the 15th century and, due to the imperious defensive needs of an overseas territory, fortifications continued to be erected throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, even during the 19th century. 

The 7 most impressive castles in the Canary Islands

San Gabriel Castle in Lanzarote

In Arrecife, capital of the island of Lanzarote, stands the castle of San Gabriel, from the sixteenth century, on a small island off the coast. It was during the 18th century when the bridge of Las Bolas was built to connect it with the island. Since 1972, this historical construction, catalogued as an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1979, houses the Historical Museum of Arrecife, where you can discover the historical, archaeological and ethnographic past of the island.

Castillo de la Luz in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

At the end of the 15th century, the construction of the castle of La Luz, also known as the Fortress of Las Isletas, was begun, located next to the Port of La Luz, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It is the oldest fortress in the Canary Islands and was declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1941.

Since 2015, it houses the Martín Chirino Foundation of Art and Thought, where the collection of the Canarian sculptor Martín Chirino is exhibited. It can be visited freely from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 19:00 hours and Sundays and holidays from 10:00 to 14:00 hours. On Wednesdays from 16:00 to 19:00 hours the entrance is free.

Castle of San Juan or Black Castle in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

In the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, stands the castle of San Juan, also known as the Black Castle. It was built between 1641 and 1643, in the vicinity of the Caleta de los Negros and the Parque Marítimo César Manrique. It is also known as La Torre Costera Defensiva de San Juan Bautista and was the second most important fortress in the defense of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. In addition, it has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest since 1993.

Tower of San Pedro Mártir in Gran Canaria

One of the most beautiful defensive constructions of the Canary Islands is the Torreón de San Pedro Mártir, also known as the castle of San Cristóbal, in the seaside neighborhood of San Cristóbal, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Since 1949 it has been listed as a Historic Artistic Monument and when the tide comes in it is completely surrounded by the sea creating beautiful views.

San José Castle in Arrecife

Another of the most beautiful castles of the Canary Islands is located in Lanzarote. It is the castle of San José, located in Arrecife, which was built between 1776 and 1779, to protect the island from pirate attacks. Nowadays, inside, you can visit the International Museum of Contemporary Art every day from 10:00 to 20:00 hours or go to the Restaurant QuéMUAC, inside its facilities.

Castle of San Cristóbal in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Among the most emblematic buildings of the Canary Islands, is the castle of San Cristobal, located in the capital of Tenerife and was one of the most important of the island. It stands in the bay of Santa Cruz, forming part of a historical complex of great interest that you cannot miss if you visit the island. The fortification, from the 16th century, is only partially preserved and in its area you can contemplate the walls and the rest of the Interpretation Center of the Ruins of the Castle of San Cristóbal, where the Tiger Canyon is located. It can be visited from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Castle of Santa Barbara in Lanzarote

In Lanzarote is the castle of Santa Barbara and San Hermenegildo, located next to the crater of the volcano Guanapay, near the town of Teguise. Listed as an Asset of Cultural Interest, inside you can visit one of the most interesting museums on the island: the Museum of Piracy. It functions as an interpretation center where you can learn about the history of corsairs, pirates and conquerors.

Winter opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 16:00 hours, as well as Sundays and holidays from 10:00 hours. In summer, it is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The Canary Islands is a land with a thousand things to see, explore and learn about. If you are interested in learning more interesting facts about the Canary Islands, here is a link to the Explora Canarias section of Marca Canaria.

Photos: Hola Islas Canarias, Santa Cruz de Tenerife City Hall and Visita Lanzarote.


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