Garachico

Overview

The idyllic former fishing village of Garachico is situated in the northwest of the island and is full of traditional Canarian flair. The area around the city is one of the most pristine landscapes of Tenerife. With about 5,400 inhabitants you can spend a day exploring all the village has to offer. Here you can experience the real Tenerife, as despite other areas dramatic transformation due to tourism, Garachico has maintained its rustic feel. Historical buildings, monasteries and narrow, winding streets are positioned amongst soaring volcanic rocks and naturally designed sea pools. Beautiful hotels lie in narrow alleys despite the bustling goings on of the town there is an air of relaxation and tranquility. Garachico has already received many awards for its work in preserving cultural heritage, historical buildings and cleanliness of the streets.

History

The town of Garachico was established immediately after the conquest of Tenerife in 1496, when the Genoese banker, Cristobal de Ponte, founded the city. The harbour flourished quickly into a major trading post in the export of sugar cane and wine between the Canary Islands, England, America and Holland. The port also served as an emigration spot. Many Tinerfeños had to leave the island and sought refuge from poverty in South America. Above the small beach is a statue, depicting an emigrant carrying suitcases, waiting for the ship to a better life.

When Montaña Negra volcano erupted on May 5, 1706 the lava almost buried the entire city of Garachico. The eruption lasted for nine long days and the dock was buried under layers of lava.  Only the old city gate survived the flowing molten lava. Puerto de la Cruz took over as an alternative port as Garachico’s port, and main channel of industry, had been destroyed.  However, new wealth was brought to the area through banana plantations and sugar cane production. The city was rebuilt but on the mountainside you can still see the lava flows left by the eruption.

The Roque de Garachico, just in front of the bay, is another reminder for this town’s rich history. There are several legends about the rock. During the conquest, a small group of Spanish soldiers were beaten by the strong aborigines, the Guanches. The survivors fled to the rock for protection and since the Guanches could not swim, they did not pursue the Spaniards.

Economy

Garachico’s industry consists of, for the most part, tourism. The cultivation of bananas and tomatoes is another smaller branch. The rebuilding of the port did not start until the early 1980’s. However, it was stopped in 1983 and commenced again in 2008. Local hopes are high that the completion of the new port, scheduled for 2011, will bring back some of the export revenue that the small village used to thrive off.

Culture

Garachico has a traditional Canarian culture. Numerous historic buildings testify to the respect the Canarian people have for their history and is evident in the amount of work put in to preservation and restoration projects. Life takes place on the Plaza de la Libertad. Cafes, bars and restaurants invite you to sit and watch the world go by with the relaxed nature of the locals. If you get the chance to go to one of the festivals or holidays in Garachico you will see the village people spring into action. Colorful, cheerful and noisy festivals are celebrated in this idyllic town.

Location/ Vegetation

Garachico is located in the northwest of Tenerife. On a semi-circular lava plateau, caused by a volcanic eruption, Garachico lies in one of the most amazing parts the island of Tenerife in regards to landscape and nature. The view of the Atlantic is particularly unique as the Roque de Garachico rises from the crashing waves. Garachico can be accessed by traveling from Puerto de la Cruz using the scenic highway, which passes through the town of Icod de los Vinos. Coming directly from the South one needs to cross the Teno. Here a wonderful course of hairpin bends leads you through beautiful slopes.

As in the entire north of the island the climate is influenced by the trade winds. The morning clouds make the climate more pleasant than in the south and temperatures vary from 15-26 degrees, prevailing throughout the year. The black sand beach is popular amoungst sunbathers and swimmers jump between the rolling waves and the salt water pool. Summer and Autum months provide the best swimming conditions but even in the winter, one can bath in the mild water of the sea. To enjoy the beautiful scenery, spring time is best as the foliage is in full bloom. The vegetation is lush here in the north meaning that nature reserves surround the town.

How to get there

By Bus:

TITSA bus number 363 runs every hour from Puerto de la Cruz to Garachico. Bus number 368 also runs hourly between Icod de los Vinos and Buenavista via Garachico. From Santa Cruz, bus number 107 will take you to Garachico. This bus departs every 2 hours and stops at North Airport, La Orotava and Icod de los Vinos.

By Car:

Driving from Santa Cruz and Puerto de la Cruz, follow motorway TF-5, journey takes about 50 minutes and 31 minutes respectively. Driving from the South (Adeje and Arona), TF-82 will take you to Garachico in just over an hour.

  

Sights

Many lovingly restored historic buildings can be visited during a tour of the old town, showing that Garachico was once a prosperous port city.

Ex-Convento de San Francisco de Asís

This is the oldest building in Garachico and was built in 1524. The fine woodwork, beautiful cloister and stone floors are impressive. Balconies and columns also adorn the building. This former Franciscan monastery now holds the Town Hall and the Cultural Centre (Casa de la Cultura). The building contains a nature museum, exhibitions, and several pretty, traditional patios.

Address: Glorieta de San Francisco, Garachico
Telephone: 922 83 00 01
Opening hours: Town Hall: Mondays to Fridays: 10:00 to 19:00, Saturdays: 10:00 to 15:00
Municipal Library: Mondays to Fridays: 16:00 to 18:00
Municipal Archives: Mondays to Fridays: 09:00 to 15:00
Casa de la Cultura (the House of Culture) of the city holds a Nature and National History Museum, along with the library and city archives. The Casa de la Cultura is situated in the Convento de San Francisco de Asís.
 
Admission: €0.60
Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays: 10:00 to 19:00, Saturdays: 10:00-15:00

Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

In the past this building was the monastery of Santo Domingo, founded in 1601 by Nicolás Esteban de Ponte y Cuevas. The church was spared from devastation by the volcanic eruption of 1706. Today the building contains a senior residence. Also, there is a contemporary art museum in the chapel, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo. The building has a bell tower of dark, volcanic rock.

Address: Calle Santo Domingo, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife
Tel: 922 830 271/922 830 000
Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays: 10:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 18:00

Ermita of San Roque (Chapel)

This chapel is located on the road to Icod de los Vinos. In 1763 the chapel was rebuilt, as it was destroyed in the eruption of the Montaña Negra. It houses the image of Saint Roque in Andalusian borroque style. The Romeria de San Roque is celebrated on every 16th August.

Address: Calle San Roque (towards Icod de los Vinos), 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Iglesia Matriz de Santa Ana (Church)

Cristóbal de Ponte was responsible for founding this Church in 1520. Located at the center of the town next to the south side of the Plaza de la Libertad, the church, with its three-aisled basilica, is one of the most famous sights of Garachico.

Only the portal and the foundations were spared by the volcano eruption of 1706. The church was rebuilt in 1995 and completely restored. Arches, columns and a coffered ceiling can be found inside. The church now houses numerous works of art from the 17th century. The patron saint of Santa Ana is present in some of the paintings.

Address: Plaza de la Libertad, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Castillo de San Miguel (Fortress)

On the waterfront, only a few steps from the old centre of Garachico, beside the sea water pools is the Castillo de San Miguel. This fort was built in 1575 in order to protect the then flourishing port of Garachico.

At that time the wealth of the port made it attractive to pirates, which the fort tried to keep from the docks. The Castillo was spared and it is well preserved. Today, inside the fort is a natural history museum.

Address: Avenida Tome Cano, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.
Opening hours: Daily 10:00 to 18:00
Admission: €1.00

Casa-Palacio de los Condes de La Gomera

This is one of the most impressive houses in the city. It was built at the end of the 17th Century and belonged to a descendant of the founder of the city, Cristobal de Ponte, and Pedro Ponte Adeje (Adeje). The Corinthian columns and symmetrical architecture of the well preserved and restored home make it a fine example of traditional architecture.

Where: North side of Plaza de la Libertad, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Casa de la Familia Ponte (Ponte Family House)

This house was reconstructed in the 18th Century and bears an impressive façade. From a fortified tower you can observe the ships in the port. In the building you can find antique furniture, expensive china and paintings from the 17th and 18th Century.

Address: Esteban de Ponte 34, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Marques de la Casa de la Quinta Roja

In the 16th and 17th century this house was reconstructed from its original plans. Now, it is a small hotel. The baroque style and well preserved local architecture invite you to experience the highlife of past times.

Address: Glorieta de San Francisco, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Puerta de Tierra (the Port Gate)

This gate is the only original structure from before 1706. It is located in the Plaza de Juan Gonzalez de la Torre. When the volcano eruption destroyed much of the town only the gate was the only thing left standing.

Where: Plaza de Juan Gonzalez de la Torre, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Monumento al Emigrante Canario

Just outside of Garachico on a hill next to the road a view point offers a stunning panoramic of the town, the bay and the Roque de Garachico. Here, there is a monument for the emigrants who left the island in search of a better life. The emigrants tried to escape poverty and sought wealth in South America. The monument shows a man with many suitcases and the turbulent sea. In the man’s chest gapes a large round hole. This illustrates beautifully how the emigrant leaves with all his belongings but leaves his heart in Garachico.

Tensei Tenmoku

Kan Yasuda, a Japanese artist created this modern sculpture, which stands on the old pier. The Japanese name means: the door without a door. The island's government gave this work to Garachico and it integrates well into the environment. The inauguration ceremony took place in 2002.

Where: Old Pier of Garachico, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Plaza de Juan Gonzalez de la Torre (Plaza de Abajo)

This is one of the best viewpoints in Garachico. Situated directly next to the Castillo de San Miguel, you can look out over the historical Canarian houses. Next to the Plaza de Juan Gonzales de la Torre, the park, Parque de la Antigua Puerta de Tierra, offers several sights.

Parque de la Antigua Puerta de Tierra

This park is located right next to the Plaza de Juan Gonzales de la Torre. It is said to be the poetic corner of the city. Here you can visit the old Port Gate (Puerta de Tierra), and an old wine press (Lagar). Plush greenery and colorful flowers decorate the park beautifully.

Plaza de la Libertad y Monumento a Simón Bolívar

Tall, shady palm trees, bay trees and a beautiful backdrop of the ancient city set the charming atmosphere of the plaza. This is the centre of village life in Garachico. The lovingly restored old town is popular with tourists who visit this ancient port city.

You will also find a monument of Simon Bolivar (El Libertador), whose parents were born in Garachico. Simon Bolivar was a South American hero who fought for independence.

Roque de Garachico-Lava rock

Just off the coast of Garachico lies a large volcanic rock in the sea. This Rock has many stories woven around it. In one of the adventurous stories it is said that at the time of conquest a small group of Spanish soldiers were beaten by the aborigines. The survivors had only one chance of safety; to flee to the rock, as aborigines could not swim. The town of Garachico’s named is derived from the position of this rock. Gara means island and chico means small (adjective). Hence, Garachico- the small island.

 

Museums

Case de la Cultura (House of Culture)

Located in the same building on the town hall (Ex-Convento de San Francisco de Asís), Casa de la Cultura (the House of Culture) of Garachico holds a Nature and National History Museum, along with the library and city archives. The Casa de la Cultura is situated in the Convento de San Francisco de Asís.

Address: Glorieta de San Francisco, 38450 Garachico
Telephone: 922 83 00 01
Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays: 10:00 to 19:00, Saturdays: 10:00 to 15:00
Municipal Library: Mondays to Fridays: 16:00 to 18:00
Municipal Archives: Mondays to Fridays: 09:00 to 15:00

Admission: €1

 

Activities

Besides the possibility to swim, you can go on adventure hiking tours. The characteristics of the landscape are unique. The tours start from higher elevations such as Icod de los Vinos and you walk down the slopes. You can gaze across the Atlantic and see the whitewashed houses of Garachico from above.

 

Beaches

El Caletón (natural rock pools)

Below the Castillo de San Miguel, natural pools of El Caletón have been shaped by the volcanic eruptions. Stairways and paths lead the way to the rocky pools which lead out to the ocean. Be careful when swimming as the tide can push you against one of the rock faces. Some pools are of impressive depth and have created an unusual water world.

Right next to the pool there is a café. The adjacent promenade is perfect for a stroll by the sea.

Swimming pool

In Garachico there is also a normal swimming pool. You can find it next to the seawater pools, handy when the swell is rough. The entrance is €1.

Playa del Muelle

A little further away from the old town, in the bay "Bahia del Genovres" is Garachicos small beach. Here, you can enjoy the sun, swim and snorkel.

 

Festivals

Romeria de San Roque

In honor of the patron saint of the city-San Roque, for many years the people of Garachico have celebrated this festival. The Romeria begins on the 24th of July. Tourists in Tenerife can accompany this celebration and experience another drama every day of the Romeria. Folklore, musical shows, pageants, a costume dance festival and many other highlights are on the agenda. The festivities last until the late evening hours. The crowning highlights: the choice of "Romera Mayor” on the 6th of August, the great dance and costume ball "Baile de Magos" and of course the real Romeria de San Roque taking place on the 16th of August. This is probably the most precious moment of the ceremony in Garachico.

Fuegos del Risco

Every five years the festival of fire is celebrated in Garachico. The Festival Fuegos del Risco is held on the first of August. This event is all about the volcanic eruption in 1706.

 

Restaurants

In Garachico eat one thing: fish. Many small restaurants offer fresh fish. You get a lot of great food for little money.

Restaurante Casa Gaspar

You can get fish and meat here. On two floors you get a good view of the harbour. The food is freshly prepared and the prices are calculated by weight.

Address: Avenida Republica de Venezuela 2, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Pizzeria El Rugantino

Here you can get great pizza. The owners are from Calabria and the restaurant is also open on Sundays and public holidays. It is located in Esteban de Ponte, just behind the football stadium.

Address: Calle de Esteban de Ponte, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.

Restaurante El Asadero

Address: Plaza de la Libertad, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.
Telephone: 922 83 01 18

Restaurante El Caletón

Address: Avenida Tomé Cano 1, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.
Telephone: 922 13 33 01 

Restaurante Aristides

Address: Casco Histórico de la Villa, 38450 Garachico, Tenerife.
Telephone: 922 83 01 18

 

Nightlife

There are some small bars in Garachico. You can drink some wine here and chat. Most of the bars are at the Plaza de la Libertad.

 

Shopping

In Garachico you can still see true craftsmanship. In addition to traditional embroideries in a store directly on the promenade one finds small shops and the craft center in the Esteban de Ponte. Pottery and many more gifts can be bought in Garachico. A cigar shop where you can still watch the master at work is also here.