Teguise or La Villa as its known locally, was the capital of Lanzarote before it moved to Arrecife in the mid 18th century. The town has some incredible buildings, cobbled streets and lots of history. Teguise is known by many for the Sunday market, which is huge and if you’re only going to one market during your holiday, it should be this one. Visit Teguise on any other day, maybe not a Monday as this tends to be the standard day off, and you will find a charming place to wander around with some really interesting and individual shops. Teguise was declared a village of historic and artistic heritage (Conjunto Arquitectónico Histórico-Artístico) in the 80’s by the Spanish government.
Maciot de Béthencourt demarcated the village in 1418, its the oldest settlement in the Canary Islands, he named it after his wife and daughter of the old King Guardafía, the Guanche Princess, Teguise. The area of Teguise was the obvious place for the capital of Lanzarote due to its central and elevated position. Teguise has a violent history, it was ransacked and devastated by invasions from pirates and privateers (Sir Francis Drake, who was known as El Draque), despite its presence of the Castillo de Santa Bárbara on the top of Mount Guanapay – you can see the old street of Sangre (blood) that runs behind the main plaza named so in memorial of a violent attack during 1618, due to the blood flowing in the street following the massacre.
In the centre of La Villa stands the church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe which dates back to 1428, this is the church tower that is visible around the village, on the other side of the Plaza de la Constitución (also known as the Plaza de Leon, due to the lion statues on guard) is the Casa Museo Palacio Spinola, one of Teguise’s noble mansions which started construction in 1730 but took 50 years to build due to the volcanic eruptions on the island at the time. This building was originally known as the Inquisitors House, in the 18th century it was home to the Feo Peraza family and then in the 19th century changed hands to the Spinola family. The house is now a museum, it was renovated in the 70’s by César Manrique and is open to the public daily from 9am until 4pm. It provides an interesting insight as to the home life of a nobleman in the 18th century.
Also facing the main square in La Cilla, the locals used to pay their taxes here, its quite apt that today it’s the only bank in the village!
Palacio del Marqués took 32 years to build and was completed in 1455, now owned by a German couple Jürgen and Antje, the Patio del Vino offers a vast range of wines from around the world with tapas. If you’re a wine connoisseur or want to know more about the local history, you should pop in and say hello, Jürgen is a great host and the central courtyard has a wonderful ambience. This building was the Canarian government’s headquarters for 270 years, it’s said there is a secret meeting hall underneath the house which has a tunnel leading to the Castillo Santa Bárbara!
Some other spectacular buildings are the Iglesia de Santo Domingo (circa 1726) situated next to the Ayuntamiento de Teguise, Convento de San Francisco (circa 1590) is the first big building on the roundabout and the Ermita de la Vera Cruz is tucked away in a side street off the Parque La Mareta.
Teguise has some great authentic tapas bars and restaurants, there is a “Ruta de Tapas“ held in December most years when you could try a local delicacy and drink for €2.50. You can also find the restaurant Ikarus just off the main plaza, still one of my favourites!
There are some really interesting shops in Teguise, which can be hidden behind stalls on a Sunday, as Teguise is fairly close to Famara there are a selection of surf shops, interesting furniture places, lots of local artisan arts and crafts with galleries, handmade clothes and jewellery etc. Many of the Teguise properties have a selection of shops in them, if you see an open door way, have a wander through and see what’s inside!
As well as wonderful architecture, Teguise has a fantastic selection of old doors, windows and chimneys, each municipality of Lanzarote has their own style that changed through the centuries and if you know your history you can date the buildings in this way. Have a wander through the streets, you will see all different designs – some windows are all wood just with flaps that hinge open, others are painted Lanzarote Green, some are part green and white, others have internal shutters, all designed to keep the houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Teguise has some traditions of its own as well as Spanish and Canarian ones, they have the Los Diabletes de Teguise, the dance of the little devils which you can see as part of Carnival in February / March, there is the Día de la Cruz in the first week of May, Día de Canarias on the 30th May, the Corpus Christi Salt Carpets in June, the Romería Virgen de las Nieves on the 5th August and many other cultural events planned throughout the year.