It’s some time since I mentioned Garachico probably because it’s a place we only visit when we have people staying. But with the hot weather we have had lately and seeing the overcast pictures of the north on Queenies website I persuaded OH that we should drive to the fertile lowlands of Tenerife’s north and the picturesque town of Garachico for some much needed fresh air.
Once through the hairpin bends and the tunnel with its round “windows” we spotted Roque de Garachico rising from the crashing waves and knew we have arrived. I find the view of the rock quite hypnotic and can feel myself daydreaming of past times. There is a story that during the conquest the Guanches beat a group of Spanish soldiers and the survivors fled to the rock for protection since the Guanches could not swim. (It was fortunate the Spaniards had that bit of info to hand!). Today, apart from the protected species of marine birds, the rock is free from any visitors.
Garachico is officially one of the unluckiest towns on the planet. It has endured plagues, floods, fires, and volcanic eruptions, the worst in 1706 destroyed a large part of the town and the source of its wealth – the harbour. What remains today is one of Tenerife’s prettiest towns, very Spanish in character with its central plaza, cobbled streets and houses that serve as a reminder of its rich history
Walking along the seafront with its natural black sandy beach and long promenade, we pass the natural rock pools hewn from the lava after the volcanic eruptions. As the pools fill and empty with the tide, I think it’s funny how nature creates such wonderful places. Although in the case of the lava pools of El Caletón they have been given a helping hand by the local authorities who have provided intertwining walkways and areas for sunbathing.
The town and harbour are small enough to wander around taking time to appreciate the grand townhouses with their beautiful wooden balconies and the fishermen’s cottages painted in bright hues. For those who want to shop, there are some interesting small outlets offering handmade handicrafts, whilst others offer a variety of souvenirs such as pottery and typical Canarian embroidery.
Staying on the promenade, walk past Castillo de San Miguel. This small fortress was one of the few buildings to survive the destruction of 1706. The interior is split between a display of marine life and a collection of fossils fascinating for anglers and geologists, but not enough to warrant more than a few minutes browsing. You can however stand between the turrets and picture the cannons firing at distant enemies back in the 16th Century.
Many admire the beautifully restored churches and if you follow the clock tower you will come to the parish Church of Santa Ana. The town hall and the Convento de San Francisco the oldest building in Garachico stands along other important buildings of the town to one side of Plaza de La Libertad.
This typical Canarian square is where local life takes place, where folk festivals and craft fairs are held and music and singing is performed. It is a place to linger under the shade of the stately old trees and is arguably the least spoilt area in town although there is plenty of competition. I also like Plaza de Abajo with the famous ‘Puerta de Tierra’ (Land Gate) and an old wine press surrounded by pretty gardens.
For those who like traditional crafts you can sometimes look over the shoulder of the man hand rolling cigars in Tabacos Arturo or admire the minimalist woodworking tools used in the past to produce the ornate balconies throughout the town at the Museo de Carpintería y Vinoteca needless to say the Vinoteca also stocks many of the island’s finest wines.
So returning to the car, enjoying the cool sea breeze as it played with my hair and tickled my face I was reminded of the unique atmosphere that surrounds Garachico and that a trip is always worthwhile.