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Lanzarote History

image : (c) istock/thinkstock

The first recorded name for the island was given by Angelino Dulcert and called Insula de Lanzarotus Marocelus, after the Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello. The name from the native language was Tyterogaka or Tytheroygaka, which means “one that is all ochre” referring to the most predominant colour of the island.

The history of this island is said to go back as far as 1100 BC, though there is no surviving evidence. It was likely the first of the Canary Islands to be settled, and possibly first inhabited by the Phoenicians. The Greeks compiled much of what we know of the ancient land, including sources like Herodotus, Plato and Plutarch. They described a certain “garden of Hesperides”, a somewhat mythic garden located somewhere far west. These were likely the Canary Islands. In mythology, the Hesperides were nymphs who were born to Hesperus. Over time, the allusions to religious or mythical creatures were dropped, and it was generally accepted that this special garden was merely nearby the location of the Canary Islands.

The first official mention of the island by name was by Pliny the Elder after an expedition. The islands were named Canaria, Ninguaria, Junonia Major, Plivalia, and Capraria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

By the 1early 14th century C.E., Lancelotto Malocello arrived to the islands from Lisbon and established a fort in the area of Montana de Guanapay near what is commonly known as Tuguise. In 1385 to 1393, Castilian slaving expeditions began to seize hundreds of Guanches and sold them to Spain, starting slave trade.

Jean de Bethencourt arrived several years later visiting landmarks like Playas de Papagayo and soon enough, French armies took over the island. The Guanches, having virtually no mountains or gorges to help them retreat were taken captive. As little as 300 men survived, according to legend. Other islands, including Fuerteventura and El Hierro were also taken over. There was a time when the Ottomans took over the island, by way of Admiral Murat Reis, but this was short lived. Pirates later raided the island and captured slaves.

By the 1700s, the island was hit by as many as 32 volcanoes. This damage stretched 18 kilometres. The “Tunnel of Atlantis” was built according to this allusion; the largest underwater volcanic tunnel in the world and is currently part of the Cueva de los Verdes Lava Tube, which is located in Haria and inside of within Monumento Natural del Malpais de la Corona. Smaller volcanoes erupted in the area now called Montanas del Fuego.

In 1768, drought deforested the land. Winter rains did not fall and many people were forced to emigrate to Cuba and North and South America. Volcanoes continued, eventually striking Tiagua by 1824, though it was not as severe as the first outbreak. Officially, Lanzarote became part of Las Palmas, a province, in the year 1927.

One of the most interesting historical items comes Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, who along with the Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, discovered prehistoric artefacts at the site of El Bebedero. They uncovered many evidences supporting the view that Romans reached and traded with the Canary Islands. Items included potsherds from Rome, metal pieces and glass pieces.

Some of the notable people who have lived on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands include César Manrique, an artist, Jose’ Saramago, a Portuguese Nobel Prize winner for literature, and Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark and her husband, Carlos Morales Quintana.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.