THE CASTLE OF SAN JOSE
Between 1776 and 1779, a fortress was built in Arrecife in honour of San José, but it was commonly known as "La Fortaleza del Hambre", (The Fortress of Hunger). In those times the living conditions were nothing short of miserable; hunger, thirst and sickness were forever hovering over the exhausted inhabitants of the island. Death was an uninvited guest in many homes, so young and old slowly died in its cold and unforgiving grip.
King Carlos III expressed these atrocious conditions in the phrase: "These disasters are more brutal than all the enemies of The Crown". It was him who ordered the construction of the fortress under the direction of the architect Don Claudio de Lisle, builder of the Torre del Aguila, in Las Coloradas. (Rubicón).
The fortress stands on a 70 metres high cliff, guarding completely the main access to the Port of Naos; its shape is semi circular, with a surface of 700 mts.2. Its main gate, a portcullis that can be lifted, looks northward, over a 14 steps moat.
At present, and at the initiative of the deceased César Manrique, the fortress has been converted into the International Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring also a restaurant. By an irony of life, a restaurant exists today in a place that used to be called "The Fortress of Hunger". César Manrique is considered a brilliant painter, but he was also a brave man with a courageous vision of the future; his motivation was to present a better image of Lanzarote: clean, attractive and unchanged. To us his main virtue consisted in making the island a place of international recognition, keeping it beautiful and peaceful. Unfortunately these conditions have been slowly eroding since his tragic death in a car accident. The place of his demise was a road crossing that had caused many accidents before, and which was changed into a traffic circle afterwards to ensure the safe flow of vehicles
Photographs of the Castle of San Jose.
Esta pagina ha sido realizada por Sarabel y Chino.
E-Mail: Sarabel y Chino