The Canary Islands
Its History

History – The Canary Islands (Islas Canarias) are a group of seven major islands and six smaller ones in the Atlantic, lying between 60 and 190 miles off the north western coast of Africa (Morocco, Western Sahara) and some 700 miles from the Spanish mainland (Cadiz) The whole archipelago extends for 310 miles from east to west and 125 miles from the north to south. The Western islands form the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, chief town Santa Cruz. The western islands are; Tenerife (794 sq. miles) La Palma ( 281 sq. miles ), Gomera (146 sq. miles) Hierro (107 sq. miles). The Eastern islands form the province of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, chief town Las Palmas. The eastern islands are ; Gran Canaria (592 sq. miles) Fuerteventura (668 sq. miles) Lanzarote (307 sq. miles). The two regions make up the Autonomous Region of the Canary Islands with Las Palmas and Santa Cruz alternating as capital of the region.

In geological terms the Canary Islands are quite young. The age of the eastern islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura is estimated to be between 16 and 20 million years and that of Gran Canaria between 13 and 14 million years, while the western islands are thought to have come into being even later, Tenerife and Gomera perhaps between 8 and 12 million years ago, La Palma and Hierro between 2 and 3 million years ago.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is the third largest and second most populous island of the Canary Islands,.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the eight Canary Islands.


Lanzarote is the fourth-largest of the islands in the archipelago.


It is well established that all the islands are of volcanic origin. There have been repeated volcanic eruptions in the Canaries, continuing into our day, the most recent have been the eruptions on La Palma which are ongoing today.

with devasting consequences for the island,  in 1949 and 1971 and over that past months eruptions have taken place in El Hierro.


Belongs to the Autonomous Canary Community and consists of the islands of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, with the island of La Graciosa and the islets of Alegranza, Montana Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste, and Fuerteventura, with the islets of Lobos. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of the province and co-capital of the autonomous region together with Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and every four years in accordance with the Statutes of Autonomy, the Presidency of the Government transfers its seat from one city to the other. They all form part of the “Fortunate Isles” and they receive this title because of their permanent spring climate. There was once the hardly scientific belief that the Canary Islands are all that remain of Atlantis, a supposedly sunken lost continent. A more plausible thesis is that they are the continuation of the great Sahara Shield, a broken platform now sunken in the sea, on which thick volcanic rock began to accumulate that underwent a different later evolution.

They began to be populated in a scattered manner around the year 2,500 B.C. The Guanche culture extended over the islands until the fifteenth century when they at last became subject to the Castilian Crown. The islands served Columbus as a stopover point on each one of his voyages towards the New World and the marks of discovery were engraved in the colonial architecture, which is now proudly displayed. Earlier, the islands had suffered the continuous attacks of Arabs, Moors, Genoese, Spanish, Portuguese and pirates, none of whom ever established themselves. The Norman adventurer,Jean de Bethencourt, under the patronage of the Castilian King, Enrique III, conquered some of the islands at the beginning of the fifteenth century. As from this time, the Spanish monarchy undertook the christianisation of the remaining islands and Alfonso de Lugo completed the conquest in 1496

Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands
La Graciosa is part of the Chinijo Archipelago and the Chinijo Archipelago Natural Park
Alegranza is the northernmost point in the Canary Islands,


In the years 1730 and 1824, two huge volcanic eruptions produced devastating effects on the island. The former gave rise to the imposing massif of the Montañas de Fuego of the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, in the Yaiza municipality. The latter left a third of the surface area under a sea of larva.

These extensive petrified area, a lunar landscape with the craters and black soil of La Geria, with unwonted grape vines protected by white walls, together with the surrounding green waters identify the island. For many, it is the most beautiful of the entire archipelago, but in any case it is the most spectacular. If this is not enough, it is due to the local artist, César Manrique, that nowadays no work of man clashes with the extraordinary natural surroundings.

The capital, Arrecife, is a small city that was defended in the seventeenth century by the castle of San Gabriel, which was constructed on an islet that is joined to the city by a drawbridge. On highground close to the port is the Castle of San José, which was constructed in 1779 and houses the Museo lnternacional de Arte Contemporáneo.

Although Lanzarote does possess tourist beach areas such as the Costa Teguise, Playa Blanco and Puerto del Carmen, there are other places that are much stronger attention seekers. The Mirador del Río allows superb views of the cliffs, the Riscos de Famara, and also of the islands that immediately arise from the sea, La Graciosa, Montaña Clara and Alegranza.

The Jameos del Agua are galleries bored into the lava by volcanic activity, which have been conditioned by César Manrique. The result is a natural work of art that is surprising to the visitor.

There are several agreeable townships on the island, such as Haría, with its viewpoint that allows views of the Mil Palmeras valley, with the Corona volcano in the background and Teguise, the previous capital. The Castillo de Guanapay, which was built on the edge of a volcano in the sixteenth century, is very close to this village and it has a wonderful view.

The Cueva de los Verdes at the foot of the volcano “de La Corona” is a group of galleries superposed on several levels that extend for some 2 kilometres, forming a fantastic spectacle. They were used by the Guanches as refuges when attacked by pirates. The largest gallery is currently being used as an auditorium.

Castles & Churches

The main church in the town hall square


Castillo de San Gabriel

This castle was built in 1573 to defend the city from pirate attacks. It is now the site of the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum.

Castillo de San José

This fortress, dating from 1776, has a semi-squared ground plan, - the side facing the sea is curved. It houses the International Museum of Contemporary Art.

Iglesia de San Ginés

Erected in 1574, it was the first hermitage in the area. It consists of three naves with Tuscan columns and a tower with a rectangular base.


Castilio de Santa Barbara

It was originally a lookout tower which was enlarged in 1551 with strong stone walls. Located on the Guanapay volcano, it Is now the site of the Museum of the Canary Isles Emigrant.

Convento de San Francisco

This convent, dating from the end of the 16th century, is outstanding for its tall and slender tower and the stonework of the facade.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

A church of one simple nave with a beautiful coffered ceiling.

Palacio Spínola

A majestic Lanzarote stately home built between 1730 and 1780 and restored in 1974.


Ermita de la Virgen de los Dolores

In 1736, when volcanic eruptions threatened to bury their village, the inhabitants made a procession with a statue of the Lady of Sorrows and promised to build a hermitage if the Virgin stopped the advance of the lava. The miracle took place, but it was not until 1774 that the hermitage was built under the patronage of the virgin, also known as the Lady of the Volcanos.

Iglesia de San Roque

Among the statues in the interior is a magnificent Virgin de la Candelaria and a Christ attributed to Luján Pérez.


Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios

Constructed in 1670, its interior contains various sculptures of the Virgin which gives it its name.

Coastal Veiws

Impressive veiw of La Santa

The information contained above is accurate at the time of uploading should ammendments need to take place, then this will be carried out on the next upload.

Photo Gallery: Lanzarote-UK