Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote
In the capital Arrecife, nearly 50.000 people live which means every second inhabitant of Lanzarote. The number of the inhabitants increased significantly during the past decades, as any time more tourists visit the island there are also more jobs to do there in the tourism sector. Those who think now to find in Arrecife a city where there is hustle and bustle during the day and the night and where there is a lively atmosphere made by the inhabitants and thousands of tourists that walk through the streets, is highly wrong.
In fact, Arrecife is the capital of the island, but nearly all charactiristics are missing that are expected from the capital of a country, an island or a region. Arrecife is not even specially nice, but rather deterring and repulsive. I didn't like the capital of Lanzarote at all; I would not visit it a second time and can only recommend to visit it when the weather of the island does not permit any visits of the nature and the sightseeings.
Significance of Arrecife for the island
In the capital of Lanzarote, of course there is the governance of the island that can make an autonomous politic in several areas from Madrid. But Arrecife is only since 1852 the capital of Lanzarote. Before that, the beautiful little city Teguise was the capital of the island; in Arrecife there was only the harbour that was attacked by the pirates several times. Both of the cartels that still today can be visited, were built in order to protect the harbour city against the bandits.
The name Arrecife means something like rocky reef. Thus, the city got its name from the fissured shore and the little riffs that one inevitably adjoins if one for example walks into the sea in the city beach during a low tide.
Arrecife is not a tourist city, as it fully belongs to the native people. Indeed, there are a couple of sightseeings for tourists and of course numerous possibilities to do shopping in the city, but in general the life of the island people takes place without any influence of the tourists; And what kind of a day structure has a Lanzaroteño as many other southerners? Right, between 13:00 p.m. and 17:00 p.m. there is siesta time
In the siesta between 13:00 p.m. and 17.00 p.m., Arricefe is like extincted; Nearly all shops are closed, and the city seems to be empty and abandoned. Thus, the capital of Lanzarote can be either visited in the morning or in the evening, but in no case in the afternoon!
Visit of the capital
In order to know Arrecife and to visit the most important sightseeings of the city, a full day is not needed. In the following, we make a three-hour walk alongside the sea and back to the city. Of course, one can spend a lot of time with shopping, but attention: at one o' clock in the afternoon the shops close for four hours!
We start our walk at the edge of the city at the city beach Playa del Reducto. If one parks the car outside at the city edge close to the city beach, it is free of charge; in the city centre, the parking places cost as much as it ususally does in a capital. The walk to the centre alongside the Playa del Reducto is pleasant and does not enlarge the Walk much.
At the very south west end of the city, there is a splendiferous ocher coloured palace in which the governance of the island is established since 1997. In order to get from here to the city centre one walks alongside the Playa del Reducto. For a sand beach, the Playa del Reducto is very beautiful and clean; during the siesta time, there are many local people lying in this beach or talking to each other. The sea is very shallow; during low tides, many rocky cliffs are visible and it is possible to walk far out without getting wet shorts.
Right at the beach there is the Gran Hotel. The only and ugly high rise building of the island is visible from everywhere and therefore it is the hallmark of Arrecife. The builders of this monstrosity wanted to establish a big posh hotel in the capital, but the guests preferred to stay in the typical bathing resorts of the island so that the hotel closed in 1991. Three years later, it burned down to the structure; Right behind the hotel there is the Parque Islas Canarias.
By walking further alongside the sea shore, one clearly realizes that Arrecife is not a tourist city. There is not much life there and for the few tourists there are no typical restautrants, cafés and shops. There is no highlight until one crosses the bridge to the Castillo de San Gabriel. There is a bridge for cars and one for pedestrians. In the old fortification there is an archeological museum; but the main reason for most of the visitors of the Castillo is the view to the capital of the island that one has from the little fortification island.
If one continues walking alongside the shore, arrives to the Charco de San Ginés, a little sea lagune that appears to be a little city lake. During the day time, numerous fisher boats are in the lake basin; in case of a high tide thay swim and in low tides they are on the sand. The little lake is quickly surrounded on foot; but it is better not to turn ones view away from the water, as the houses alongside the shore tramsmit a quite degenerated impression. Additionally, there is a partly unbearable malodour.
During the surrounding, one rapidly sees a big shopping center. From the Centro Comercial Atlántida, also the main shopping mile Calle León y Castillo extends into the south. To walk alongside this street is a must during the visit of the capital. Here are exactly the shops where the local people do their shopping and where also the one or another tourist gets lost. The numerous gambling houses alongside this street are remarkable. A view inside makes clear that also in Lanzarote there are young and old people without jobs. Before the Calle León y Castillo meets the boardwalk again, there is the yellow house at the left (Casa Amarilla). From here, the island was governd until the new governance building at the end of the city beach was establishd.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz