San Miguel De Teguise or Villa Teguise bears the name of the beautiful daughter of Guadafra, last king of the original inhabitants of Lanzarote, the Guanches. The Princess who married the knight who conquered the island for the crown of Castile, Jean (Maciot) De Bethencourt. It was through the Princess Teguise that agreements and disagreements between her father the king and her husband the conqueror were channelled and she was the hinge pin in bringing peace between the two.
Villa Teguise a hamlet turned city was to become the spiritual and administrative centre of Lanzarote. It was from here that expeditions where set forth to conquer the rest of the Canary islands.
Teguise was also a meeting place between Castile and America during the first colonisation of the new world. Perhaps the word that best describes this ancient capital of Lanzarote is Stately. The history of the cities glories and bygone power is written in each and every street, building and monument.
Here are austere convents, beautiful churches, the elegant palace of the nobility that have kept their seal of distinction and continue to inspire respect in spite of the centuries. Large houses built in stone and brick with white walls, large windows and ornate balconies typical of these fortunate islands.
A visit to Teguise would not be complete with venturing up the Guanapay volcano to visit the Santa Barbara Castile which since 1990 has been the home to the pirate museum. The castle was built in the 15th century and has spectacular views of the island from its roof. This castile was attacked and destroyed several times and was finally restored to its former glory by the architect Torriani in 1586.
Villa Teguise is also home to the largest arts and crafts market in europe boasting over 400 hundred stalls, where visitors and the locals rummage through small shops and stalls to discover fascinating products.
Teguise is also the home of the Timple an ancient and most typical Canarian musical instrument. The secret of its construction handed down from father to son and from one generation to the next.
Arriving by bus you disembark outside the convent of Santa Domingo, Plaza General Franco this convent is now an exhibition centre and holds several free exhibitions each year, next to the convent is the ayuntamiento, the town hall, note above there are 3 flags, the Canarian flag, The Spanish flag and the green and white flag of Teguise.
With the convent on your left walk along the pavement passing the white archway at the top of the stone steps, cross over the crossing and turn left at the corner of the street, Calle José Betancourt. Watch out for the traffic as this is a busy road which goes through the town, cross over the road by the green garage door and first look at the views of the volcanic craters on the horizon, you’ll notice that due to the North North westerly wind they have worn away on one side leaving what looks like horseshoes.
Continue down the hill until you come to the strange garden which at first looks like a pet cemetery but is in fact a collection of discarded items displayed outside this old house. Walk back up the hill and turn left into Calle Santo Domingo a continuation of the first street.
Turn right at Calle Notas and you will see a shop selling Asian furniture and trinkets, this is the old 1950’s cinema. In the door way is an old carbon arch projector used to show films in this old movie theatre, live entertainment was also performed here on the stage which is still there.
Head back to Calle Santo Domingo and continue to the small square at the end, by now you would have noticed the wooden crosses situated around the town. Cross the square and walk down Calle Correo, the building in front of you is the oldest standing building in the village and since 1990 has been Lanzarote’s archive house. Note the unusual wooden doors and windows, the door is very tall and as the inhabitants of the island weren’t giants but they would enter the door on horse back only to dismount in the inner courtyard that these lavish villas had. With the archive house on your left walk to the end of Calle Carnicería, note the narrow lane on your right and the silver birch tree, at the end of the street turn left past the surf shop and the immediately right Calle Trueno, along here you’ll see the second church (iglesia de Teguise) of Villa Teguise which is being converted into a museum about the village. Turn right and you’ll have a lovely white-walled garden on your left and Villa Princessa Ico on your right, from here you can see the Castle of Santa Barbra high on the Guanapay volcano, at the top of the street you can see across to the white archways leading into the market square and your on Calle Puerto y Villa Garachico a Palm tree lined avenue which heads down towards yet another plaza.
Look right to see if the villa of Princessa Ico is open, the same shop as the cinema but you can see into the courtyard at this excellent example of the local architecture.
Time for a comfort stop and delicious coffee or cold drink at Bar Loris, Loris is a colourful character and his bar is the focal point of this plaza. You’ll discover that his charm and charisma are second to none, feel free to visit his small art gallery upstairs and just enjoy a few moments to relax.
Continue your walk heading towards the Church steeple but wait before leaving the plaza turn right to see the small token monument to the fishermen who lost their lives going to the African fishing grounds (on the odd-shaped roundabout) across the road is the public library (biblotec) venture in to look at the beautiful wooden ceilings in the 2 front rooms. Lanzarote is unique in the Canaries and Spain for allowing people to check books out of the library a similar system to ours in the UK but not practised elsewhere in the Spanish Kingdom. Opposite the library is the shop of the Cesar Manrique foundation, the same goods are in here as the foundation itself but well worth a look.
When leaving the library turn right then right again heading up the volcanic stonework into Plaza De La Constitucion on your right is the Aloe Vera shop and a bowl of cut Aloe Vera plant for you to look at, next door is the music school of Villa Teguise. In front of you is the main square of Teguise with the church of our Lady of Guadalupe this church was destroyed in several pirate attacks and was reconstructed in 1680, the church clock no longer works and the bells are now inside the entrance on your left.
Looking around the square you will see the Timple Museum, the timple is a hand-made guitar which is used in the local folklore music groups on Lanzarote. The museum is well worth a visit and is house in the old governors house Spinola and is guarded by the two lions you can see on the plaza steps. Inside the same building is the tourist information office, as Villa Teguise is now 600 years old lots of events take place in the village throughout the year.
The twin apex roof building which is now the bank was formerly the grain store and tax office for the region. Plaza de Constitucion is the focal point of the village and on Sundays at 11:00am locals will come here to join in with the folklore group and meet in the market, which is now the biggest in Europe.
Head from the square alongside the right hand side of the church and you’ll see a restaurant called Acitife which was the name of the small hamlet before Jean Betancourt conquered the island. Behind the church is Calle Sangre or Blood Street, during the 1852 pirate attack the local villages took the pirates head on in this street and a bloody battle enraged, the street was flowing in blood and dried black. Once the capital had moved the Arrecife the street was renamed.
Turn right into Calle Sangre (blood Street) and walk towards the convent of san Francisco, on your left just across the road is an excellent shop worthy of a browse and on the traffic island on your right is a statue of a carnival devil.
Once you have ventured around this area head down the hill passing the side of the Canary Cotton store, the pavement is narrow and this is the busy road we started on to visit that odd garden. Cross over the second crossing and into the plaza which houses the flagpole. Either venture down the steps under the arch or continue along the path to cross next to the bus stop. You should be able to visit the Santa Domingo convent before catching the bus back to your resort.