Northern Fuerteventura has a wide range of places to visit, places of archaeological interest, extensive natural areas of great beauty, sculptures to Miguel de Unamuno and to the seafaring trades, and the civil, military and religious architecture which are remains pointing to the history of La Oliva town.
Places of archaeological interest
The municipality is one of the richest archaeological areas on the island of Fuerteventura. It contains petroglpyhs on Mount Tindaya and ensembles formed by the remains of structures, inhabited caves, funeral caves and remains of “concheros” (deposits of collected shells, molluscs, etc.). Particularly valuable are the structures in the village of Tinojay, located on the side of the canyon of the same name. The Llano de Villaverde cave – living quarters is important; artefacts such as ceramics and mollusc shells from aboriginal peoples have been found there. Important paleontological remains are also to be found in the same place. Aboriginal burial sites have been found in the Esquinzo cave, the Guriame cave, the Villaverde bone cave and in the Los Ídolos cave which, sited on the southern border of the La Arena badlands, features ceramic funeral furnishings, everyday utensils made of stone and bone and, of special importance, five idols made of bone and stone.
14.2% of the area of the municipality is protected natural space. The natural areas par excellence in our municipality are the Corralejo and Islet of Los Lobos natural parks.
The Corralejo park includes a sizeable dune field, a badlands sector and a volcanic cone (Montaña Roja). It has a considerable sabulicola habitat with plants such as the Canarian Bean-Caper, the shrubby sea-blite and Canary sea-blite, in addition to providing a home for the finest population of houbara bustard birds on the island. In Los Lobos there used to be an abundant population of monk seals. Today none are left, but nevertheless 130 vegetable and animal species are to be found there.
The Natural Monument Malpaís de la Arena was created around 10,000 years ago by volcanic eruptions. These gave rise to a landscape of great beauty and shape that has not been significantly changed by humans over the years, which is perhaps the reason why the pre-eminent populations of stonechats, shrubby spurge, aulagas, houseleeks and lichens live in its badlands.
Noted for its beauty is the Calderón Hondo volcanic cone, which has a circular base and is about 70 metres deep. It is located in an area called Mascona to the east of Lajares. From Calderón Hondo you can see other volcanoes that are closer to the sea: mounts Lomo Blanco, La Raya and La Mancha. On clear days the neighbouring island of Lanzarote can also be made out.
A project by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida has brought modern-day fame to the Mount Tindaya Natural Monument, which rises out of the basal complex of Betancuria. It had magical meaning for the ancient residents of Fuerteventura as can be seen from the podomorph (footprint shaped) carvings at its summit, the best in the archipelago. It is protected as a natural space, an archaeological area and because of its geological value.
The Vallebrón Protected Landscape is characterised by an elongated ridge with a razor-back relief, flanked by two large U-shaped ravines. The easternmost vertex of the ridge is Mount Muda, a place of historic interest as it contains an archaeological site with a peculiar burial system.
Here the outstanding feature is the monument to Miguel de Unamuno on Mount Quemada in Tindaya. It includes a statue of the intellectual, the work of sculptor Juan Borges based on a sketch by the painter Juan Ismael. Unamuno said about this place: “If the end were near and I couldn’t die in my homeland or in Salamanca, I would go to spend my last days there and I would have myself buried atop Quemada Mountain.”
There are examples of civil architecture in La Oliva that stand out from those on the rest of the island, and which can only be compared to the ones built in the old capital, Betancuria.
Houses such as the one belonging to Manrique de Lara or Casa del Inglés and others characterised by the “nobility” of their construction, indicate the economic power of the locality in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The example par excellence of the municipality’s civil architecture, and almost of the island’s, is the building known as the Casa de los Coroneles (the Colonels’ House) constructed in the second half of the 17th century by the Cabrera Béthencourt family. The most important extensions and refurbishments were made in the 18th century. The La Casa de los Coroneles is the most important domestic architecture construction on the island and one of the most interesting in the Canary Islands. Its complex functions in the immediate area and throughout the island made it into a centre of administrative, military, economic and social power, while at the same time it reflects the geopolitical change that took place on the island with the decline of Betancuria and the rise of La Oliva.
A few metres away stands the “Casa de la Capellanía”, also known as hermitage of Puerto Escondido or Puerto Rico, with an interesting facade made of local white stone and decorated with a floral design.
La Cilla of La Oliva, dating from the beginning of the 19th century, is located on the left-hand side of the road that leads to Lajares. The cillas are buildings where the church stored the produce it collected from tithes and the revenue from its properties. The one in La Oliva currently houses a grain museum.
La Casa de la Costilla is another type of house, owned by the Cabrera-Manrique de Lara family, where the tenant farmers or administrators of their estates lived.
The molinos (tower mills), molinas (open trestle mills) and lime kilns which proliferate over the length and breadth of the municipality are traces of economies and ways of living close to our own time. Outstanding are the El Cotillo lime kilns, which produced a large part of products for export. There are also examples in Villaverde, El Roque, La Oliva, etc.
Noteworthy in La Oliva is the church dedicated to Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. It has a nave and two side aisles, each with a chapel. The central nave is supported by semicircular arches on square-based Tuscan columns. It is a popular, Mudejar structure dating from the end of the 17th century that features the particular shapes of the region and of the Renaissance in its supports and facade. The latter is in a very simplified classical style, dating from the beginning of the 18th century. The tower, made of dark stone, is not only the bell tower but also a watchtower. With the arrival of the Colonels it became the second most important ecclesiastical building on the island.
The Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Buen Viaje in El Tostón or El Cotillo was founded towards the end of the 17th century by Sebastián Trujillo Ruíz, captain and sergeant major of the island, and its first festival was held on 21st November 1860.
Most of the hermitages to be found on Fuerteventura were built during the 18th century, and they were in large part the work of significant groups of residents. The Villaverde, Villaverde, Tindaya and Vallebrón hermitages, and possibly the beginnings of the Ermita de La Caldereta, date from the 18th century. The construction of the Ermita de San Antonio in Lajares belongs to a later period.
Tostón Tower, also known as the Tower of Our Lady of the Pillar and Saint Michael, is exceptional. It is a “cheese” tower, so called because of its round shape, and its main function was to afford protection against the attacks of pirates that were very frequent at the time. To that end it was fitted with some simple artillery pieces. Built from rocks taken from a quarry near the El Cotillo hermitage, it dates from the middle of the 17th century and was declared a Historic Monument of Cultural Interest in 1949.
Ideas for the journey
In the footsteps of legendAn excellent guidebook to help you explore the walking routes of La Oliva. Volcanoes, beaches, history and much more.
- See more -