There are four Lanzarote castles that have been renovated and are in a good state of repair. They were built to help defend the island against pirate attacks in the past. Three of the Lanzarote castles are open to the public and are museum/art galleries.
Castillo de Santa Barbara (Guanapay)
This is the most impressive of the Lanzarote castles as it stands at the edge of an extinct volcanic cone,on the summit of Mount Guanapay, and overlooks the town of Teguise. It was, for centuries, the main defence against Moorish raiders who came inland as far as the island’s former capital, Teguise. It was built in the 14th Century by Lancelotto Malocello, a Genoan explorer,, who visited the island in 1312 and after whom the island was named. It was rebuilt 100 years later by Maciot de Bethencourt, and further strenghtening was carried out in the 16th Century. Access is by a steep 1.3km road, north-west of Teguise. From the castle there are excellent views for miles around. It is now the Museo del Emigrante.
Castillo de las Colorades (or Torre del Aguila)
The Castillo de las Coloradas (the smallest of the Lanzarote castles) stands in a prominent, high position, at a place called Punta del Aguila) between the Playa Papagayo and Playa Blanca beaches on the island’s southern coastline. It is a restored circular watchtower that is allegedly at the beach where the explorer, Jean de Bethancourt, first set foot on the island in 1402. The tower was built in 1769, although it may have been built a bit later. From this point there are excellent views over the sea to the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura.
Castillo de San Gabriel
This is one of two Lanzarote castles that is in the capital of Arrecife. The Castillo de San Gabriel is near the old harbour. It is built on a small islet, called the Islote de los Ingleses. It was built in 1590 by the Italian, Leonardo Torriani, and was an important castle that provided a defence against the pirates that tried to attack the harbour and town. To reach the castle you have to walk out on a walled, raised, stone walkway. This causeway passes over a small drawbridege which is called the Puente de las Bolas (the bridge of the balls) as there are two cannon balls perched on the top of it. The castle looks strong and forbidding, as it is a low and square building. Outside there are two cannons that provide a good photo opportunity. Fom its unique position on the islet, there are wonderful views of Arrecife and surrounding areas. Inside the castle there is a small archaelogical museum (Museo de Historia de Arrecife) that includes locally found fossils, historic finds and artefacts.
Castillo de San Jose
The San Jose castle overlooks the harbour in Arrecife. The castle was built between 1776 and 1779, and was restored in the 1970’s. It has been the site of the International Museum of Contemporary Art since 1974. It contains works by Cesar Manrique and others. It has a restaurant attached called Que Muac hich can be accessed separately. Admission is 2.50€. It is open from 11am – 9pm.