The Castillo de Santa Bárbara sits high up on Mount Guanapay overlooking Teguise, the old capital and the island of Lanzarote. King Felipe II ordered the castle to be built by D. Sanco de Herrera in the 16th Century as a watch tower to help protect the islanders from pirates and privateers such as Sir Francis Drake who was known as El Draque (The Dragon) to the Spanish.
It is rumoured that a tunnel connects the castle to the town of Teguise below and that the islanders could go to ground when invaded. The castle was later modified after an attack by Arráez in 1586 when more than one thousand residents of the island took refuge there, the engineer Leonardo Torriani proposed changes that made the castle the version that we can still see today.
The castle was restored in 1989 and is now the Emigrants Museum, this castle is in really good order, its interesting to wander around and read the information on the walls and look at the displays pertaining to the emigration of Lanzaroteños to America in the 17th - 19th century. Here you can read about the Canarians that formed the town of San Antonio in Texas and those families ordered by the Spanish Crown to leave for South America.
In the 17th & 18th century families were enforced to leave the islands to make new settlements and protect new lands in South America:
1685 – 200 families were sent to Santa Domingo, Puerto Rico & Havana
1690 – 30 families sent to Matanza in Cuba
1704 – 20 families sent to Apalache
1720 & 1730 Canarians sent to Buenos Aires, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Montevideo
1778 – 564 people sent to Havana
1779 – 423 people sent to Havana and 406 to new lands
In the 19th century the Lanzaroteños left out of desperation, there was draught, financial crisis and hunger, 83% headed for Cuba and 8% to Venezuela.
It costs €3 per adult and €1.80 per resident to visit the museum which is open from Monday – Friday 9am to 3.30pm and Sundays 9.30am to 2.30pm, why not include a visit when you explore Lanzarote or go to the Teguise Sunday market to see the great views, architecture and learn about the islands history.