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The 10 Most Important Things to do in Arrecife on Lanzarote
Arrecife is the Spanish word for reef. The city owes this name to the black volcanic stone reef off its coast. The seat of government of the fourth largest Canary Island in terms of area is located in this city. With around 60,000 inhabitants, almost half of the island's inhabitants live in the capital.
The city on the east coast is located almost in the middle of the elongated island and is hardly relevant with regards to tourism. The cityscape is therefore largely dominated by the locals, but there are also many day visitors. This article will tell you whether a visit to the island's capital is worthwhile. Here are the 10 most important things to see in Arrecife.
- El Castillo de San Gabriel
- The ports of Arrecife
- El Charco de San Ginés
- The Church of San Ginés
- Castillo de San José - Museum of Contemporary Art
- The beach walk
- Pedestrian zone “Calle de Leon y Castillo”
- The city beach Playa El Reducto
- El Parque Temático
- The Grand Hotel Lanzarote
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1. El Castillo de San Gabriel
The work on the “Castillo de San Gabriel” fortress began in the second half of the 16th century. It was hoped that it would provide protection against the pirate raids that were rampant during this period. The Castillo is situated in front of the city on the small island “Islote de Fermina” and can be reached via the 175 meter long bridge “Puente de Las Bolas”. The ancient bridge and the fortress together make a very popular photo motif. Today, the fortress houses the Museum of History, where you can learn a lot about what happened on the island before and after the arrival of the Spaniards (opening hours: Monday to Friday: 10 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm; Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm).
2. The Ports of Arrecife
The Puerto de los Mármoles
The Puerto de los Mármoles is located on the extreme northern outskirts of the city and was originally a fishing port. Due to the increasing goods traffic and the increasingly popular cruise tourism, it was expanded to the third largest port in the Canaries. It now offers a total of 3 kilometers of berths and a container terminal with a gantry crane. Cruise ships of all sizes and categories moor here at its 800-meter-long jetty almost every day to make a stopover on their routes. The port is also the main access point for goods and articles that are needed for the daily supply of the island's population. And the ferries to and from Cadiz on the Spanish mainland dock here as well as to Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and La Palma and back.
The Puerto de Naos
It is the smaller of the two ports but also the older one. For protection against pirates, the Puerto de Naos was built in the north directly on the island of Isla de Francés, where the Castillo de San José is also located. It mainly served as a fishing port until the late 1970s. With the decline of fishing, the Puerto de Naos was converted into a sports harbor. Today it offers modern berths and two large cranes that can lift boats onto the dry deck if necessary. And an additional berth for cruise ships was built at the northern end of the mole in order to cope with the constantly increasing shipping traffic.
3. El Charco de San Ginés
Charco means pool or puddle in English. The Charco de San Ginés is actually a lagoon that extends into the urban area and contains more or less water depending on the tidal situation. The lagoon is surrounded by the Avenida César Manrique, which is named after the famous artist and environmentalist of Lanzarote. This street of the old town, which is closed to traffic, is lined with traditional white houses and small bars and restaurants. Finding a nice spot here and letting your eyes wander over the small fishing boats, which are partly on the water and partly on dry land, is always worthwhile.
4. The Church of San Ginés
This conquistador style church was built in 1570 in honor of Bishop St. Genesius of Clermont, the patron saint of Arrecife (San Ginés). At the time, however, it had little to do with today's appearance. As it had to be rebuilt completely after it was destroyed by a flood in the middle of the 17th century. In the 19th century two more naves and the church tower were added and so it finally got its current appearance. The rather simple interior shows many symbols from navigation and fishing life. Church service is still held here every day. Calle Libre is located right next to the church. There is a small farmers' market every day, mainly selling fruit, vegetables and spices.
5. Castillo de San José - Museum of Contemporary Art
This fortress on Isla de Francés was built to defend Puerto de Naos and El Charco de San Ginés. Today you can visit the Museum of Contemporary Art there. The works of the Canarian artist César Manrique are exposed here, among other things. Same as exhibits of international artists (opening times: daily 10 am to 8 pm).
6. The Beach Walk
After extensive renovation work on the beach walk in recent years, it now presents as a beautiful paseo along the sea with a palm garden and pavilion that invites you to stroll and linger. A variety of surrounding bars and restaurants offer typical and international cuisine.
7. Pedestrian Zone “Calle de Leon y Castillo”
The main shopping street of Arrecife is also called Calle Real (Royal Street). With its countless narrow side streets, it forms the old town. In addition to the usual chain stores and boutiques, you will also find small department stores, souvenir shops, handicraft businesses and cozy tapas bars and cafés. But of course there are also barber shops and everything else a city needs. Since the city is not adapted to tourists, the siesta is still common here. For this reason, most shops are closed between 2 pm and 5 pm As a visitor you should simply use this time for lunch or sightseeing.
8. The City Beach Playa El Reducto
The city beach of Playa El Reducto is right in front of the Grand Hotel. The fine white-yellow sanded beach is ideal for bathing enthusiasts who want to cool off in the Atlantic. Since the beach is protected from high waves by a reef and has a relatively flat entry into the sea, it is very suitable for children. Despite being located in the middle of the city, you hardly have to fear overcrowding. This guarantees you perfect bathing and snorkeling fun. By the way, the beach has been awarded the Blue Ribbon for cleanliness by the EU.
9. El Parque Temático
The park situated at the bottom of the city beach is an excellent place to relax. The natural grass is made to walk barefoot over it or to lie on a blanket and let your soul dangle. Dog owners love this park because it has an area specially created for dogs. Young people and the young at heart can show and improve their skills in the skater park.
10. The Grand Hotel Lanzarote
Built in the late 1960s, the Grand Hotel is still the only skyscraper on the entire island. After it was closed in 1991 due to inefficiency, it burned down completely in 1994. 10 years later, the 17th storey building was completely renovated and reopened. It now is a 5-star hotel and, in addition to a small row of shops on the ground floor, it has a bar and a restaurant on the top floor. From here you have a fantastic view over the roofs of the capital, the harbors and the beach.