Tias is not widely known to visitors to Lanzarote and is generally just somewhere you pass through on the island’s main road, the LZ2. However, it is an important administrative centre and the municipality of Tías incorporates the largest of Lanzarote’s tourist resorts, Puerto del Carmen.
Formerly called Las Tias de Fajardo, meaning Farjado’s Aunts, the town was named in the late 1400s by Alonso Farjado, Governor of Gran Canaria, to honour his favourite maiden aunts, Francisca and Hernan. Lanzarote is still governed by the province of Gran Canaria.
There is evidence of a settlement here dating back to pre-Spanish days and for centuries the area was relatively poor and reliant on agriculture and fishing. The fortunes of the town changed in the 18th century, when six years of volcanic eruptions from 1730 to 1736 destroyed nine villages, and the most fertile land on the island, forcing whole communities to relocate, many of whom moved to Tias. With the growth in population and the increase in trade, the town became an important commercial centre.
Here’s some video shot in Tias:
This prosperity was fairly short lived as, with the growing importance of maritime trading, the port and new island capital of Arrecife became Lanzarote’s trading hub. Once again Tias became one of the poorer areas of the island.
However, with the dawn of the package holiday industry in the 1970s and the accessibility of air travel for ordinary people, the municipality’s stretch of coast called La Tiñosa with its golden sands was to become a huge attraction for those seeking year round sunshine. With the building of the first hotel and the subsequent surrounding urban growth, this coastal area was renamed, Puerto del Carmen.
With around 70% of Lanzarote’s tourist revenue centred in PDC, the town of Tias is now one of the most, if not the most, affluent on the island. In addition to this, a growing number of ex-pats are choosing to escape from the hustle and bustle of the resorts and experience the peaceful Canarian way of life while still being in easy reach of the beaches and nightlife.
Tías has retained an authentic island feel and life tends to move at a slow pace. The many bars and restaurants provide a warm welcome and traditional cooking and are lovely places to pass the time while, for us ex-pats, improving our Spanish.
There is also evidence of the cultural history of Tias. The sculpture of two wrestlers on a roundabout on the main avenida reflect the importance of the town within the sport of Canarian Wrestling which was, and in some areas still is the biggest sport in the Canary Islands.
The Municipal Theatre has regular exhibitions, events and concerts. The house of Portuguese author José Saramago is open to the public. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998 he lived in self-imposed exile in Tias until his death in 2010.
More and more visitors to Lanzarote are choosing to really explore the island and see what’s outside of the tourist resorts. The central location of Tias and the road and bus network makes it an ideal holiday base. There is a variety of accommodation in this delightful town, but you’ll need to book early!
More reading? Try Lanzarote, a better work / Life balance.