Lanzarote Canary Islands

Lanzarote the realm of volcanoes and pirates

One of the seven Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, Lanzarote is known for its year round warm weather. Its ancient buildings are a silent witness to its violent past, including the pirates who repeatedly attacked and plundered the island. A six year long series of volcanic eruptions between 1730 and 1736, and a smaller one in 1824, shaped the island as it is today.


A defence battery built in 1898 during the Spanish American war, it was reactivated in 1940 and expanded with an observation post. The whole complex sits right on top of the tourist attraction Mirador del Rio, but almost nobody knows it is there. Was this bunker part of a WWII communication network of the Nazis? When we visited Lanzarote in 2019 the entrances were unblocked.

To access the site you have to walk around the Mirador del Rio entrance and head towards the communication tower. The first bunker you encounter is the observation post built in 1940. When you enter the bunker you can see that the observation post was built to look out over the Atlantic ocean, past the tiny island of La Graciosa (see video). The height makes it a perfect spot for a communications tower. Add to this the rumored secret Nazi U-boat base on nearby Fuerteventura and the bunker makes sense.

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The tower was built in 1741 to protect the island from pirate attacks. In 1749 around 400 pirates from Algiers destroyed the Torre del Aguila taking ten prisoners. They sacked the Ermita de San Marcial church and torched the village. The tower was rebuilt by King Carlos III.

In 2019 the tower is not open to the public.

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Originally built as a watchtower in 1312 by Lancelotto Malocello from Genoa after whom the island was named. In his notes he wrote "I built a castle, which for years floated the banner of the Republic of Genoa, a red cross on a silver field". After 20 years the locals rebelled and drove out Marcello. Nowadays the castle houses an excellent exhibition on the island's pirate history.

In 2019 Entrance €3

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Built originally as a wooden structure in 1573 it was burned down a year later by the pirate Morato Arraez. Felipe II commissioned Italian engineer Leonardo Torriani to rebuild the castle. The drawbridge leading to the castle is only one of its kind in the Canaries. It features two pillars each with a cannonball mounted on top, giving it the name Ball Bridge.

In 2019 Entrance €3

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Built between 1776 and 1779 the fort was constructed as a defensive stronghold in case of pirate attacks. The project provided much needed employment during a time of famine and poverty on the island and the fortress became commonly known as the Hunger Fortress (Fortaleza del Hambre). The famine was caused by a number of factors including a period of drought and the eruptions of Timanfaya between 1730 and 1736 which devastated most of the productive agricultural areas on the island. Today the building houses a modern art museum.

In 2019 Entrance €4

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The green lagoon is a spectacular color fest of red rocks, black sand, blue sea and sky and the bright green waters of the lagoon. The best vantage point is at the tiny village of El Golfo.

The vantage point at El Golfo is free.

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The lovely sand beaches at the southern tip of the island are a good place to enjoy sand, sea and sun. We visited the southern  beaches of Papagayo, de la Cera and Caleta del Congrio.

More information about beaches on Lanzarote.

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