After Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, or Maxorata and Jandia as the two kingdoms of the island were known to the Guanche original settlers, fell to Spanish conquerors headed by De Bethencourt in 1405. Guize, the king of the larger area Maxorata (all of Fuerteventura north of Pajara) surrendered in 1405, followed shortly by Ayoze ruler of Jandia. Incidently, as Jose Lusi Concepcion reminds in his book 'The Guanches - Survivors and their Descendants', the battle to secure Fuerteventura by Spanish colonialists was assisted by Lanzarote Guanche leader Guadarfia. Checkout the Rural Tourism Fuerteventura weblinks right for in-depth information on Guanche sites, Eco Museums and historic churches and art.
The caves at Ajuy on the west coast of Fuerteventura are a particular highlight in your Guanche sites exploration across the Canaries. Access is now superb, and you can walk right into the caves. (Work also was in progress when we visited to improve coastal walking access on this stretch - good news indeed). Currently you wouldn't know this site featured on the Guanche map unless you'd visited the Museo Canario in Las Palmas/Gran Canaria where there is ample information on it. Fuerteventura does ecotourism and agricultural history well. Move inland to discover Eco Museums, reconstructed Guanche villages, Guanche artefacts and a wild and hauntingly captivating barren volcanic landscape. The beaches often get the focus on Fuerteventura, but you're missing out if you don't take time to move inland. Car hire is highly recommended to enjoy the interior at your leisure, especially around Betancuria.
Antigua Windmill Craft Centre, Centro de Artesania Molino de Antigua, Fuerteventura. Open Tuesdays to Fridays, and Sundays 9.30am to 5.30pm. Includes cactus garden, and other indigenous Fuerteventura flora, plus a craft shop, a mill and various small galleries.
Betancuria Archaeological & Ethnographic Museum, C/Roberto Roldan, Betancuria, Fuerteventura. Tel: 928 87 82 41. Open from Tuesday to Saturday: 11am to 17:00/5pm and Sunday: 11:00 to 14:00. Closed on Monday. Also in Betancuria, the Sacro Art Gallery, C/ Alcalde Carmelo Silvera, s/n, Betancuria, Fuerteventura. Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00. Closed Sunday Tel: 928 87 80 03.
Betancuria Craft Centre, Tel: 928 87 82 41. Opening times are the same as those of the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum. Winter times: 10:00 to 17:00. Summer times: 10:00 to 16:00. El Carmen Salt Pans, Betancuria, Finca El Matorral Tel: 928 17 42 11. Opening Times: Every day: 10:00 to 19:00.
La Oliva in the north of Fuerteventura is another popular cultural and arts and crafts centre. Attractions include La Cilla House Grain Museum, Tel: 928 85 14 00. Open Every day: 9:30 to 17:30. Closed on Monday and Saturday. Also, checkout the Casa Mane Canarian Art Centre, Tel: 928 86 82 33. Open Summer: 10:00 to 18:00, Winter: 10:00 to 17:00. Closed Sunday and holidays. Special entrance fees for groups. La Ermita Ceramic Workshop, Open Summer times: 08:00 to 16:00. Winter - 08:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 20:00. Tel: 928 86 85 04.
In the pretty and work-a-day capital of Fuerteventura - Puerto del Rosario (well worth a day trip at least) is the small but interesting Miguel de Unamuno Museum in his one time home - the old Fuerteventura Hotel, C/ Virgen del Rosario, 9, Puerto Del Rosario, Tel: 928 85 14 00. Open Monday to Friday: 9:00 to 13:00 and 17:00 to 19:00, Saturday: 09:00 to 13:00. Closed Sunday and holidays. Unamuno was exiled here after he opposed the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in the 1920s, and he took many a thoughtful walk on nearby Playa Blanca beach. Hopefully the museums exhibits will soon be translated into English - currently it's all in Spanish.
Tuineje Las Simonas House Municipal Craft Centre, C\Teniente Coronel Sanchez Umpierrez, Tuineje.Tel: 928 16 11 17. Tiscamanita Interpretive Centre for Tiscamanita Windmills. Tel: 928 85 14 00. Open Every day: 9:30 to 17:30pm, Closed Monday and Saturday.
Tamaretilla Cactus and Leisure Park, Finca El Matorral, Tel: 928 17 42 11. Open Every day: 10:00 to 19:00. Tarajalejo - Aquarium & Marine Museum, Ocios El Brasero, Ctra. Gral. De Tarajalejo. Fuerteventura. Tel: 928 16 13 51.
A summary of complete Fuerteventura Museum listings is as follows: Museo del Gran, La Cilla, La Oliva (open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm), Ecomuseo de la Alcogida, Tefia (Open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm). Casa Mena La Ampuyenta (open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm). Centro de Artesania Molino de Antigua (Open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm). Museo Arqueologico de Betancuria (open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm). Centro de Interpretacion de los Molinos de Tiscamanita (open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm). Museo de la Sal, Las Salinas del Carmen (Salt Museum - open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm). Casa Museo de Unamuno (open Mon-Fri 9am to 2pm). Centro de Interpretacion Cueva del Llano, Villaverde (open Tues-Sat 1pam to 6pm).
Church of Our Lady of Antigua. Sacro Art Gallery, C/Alcalde Carmelo Silvera, s/n, Betancuria, Open Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00. Closed Sunday. Tel: 928 87 80 03. Church of St Maria de Betancuria, C/ Alcalde Carmelo Silvera, s/n, Betancuria. Tel: 928 87 80 03/630 01 47 87. Opening Times: Monday to Saturday: 11:00 to 17:00, Closed Sunday. Also in Betancuria is the Convent of St Buenaventura and the Chapel of St Diego de Alcala.
Pajara Church of Nuestra Senora de Regla - with unique retables and Mexican influence on design and interior sculptures.
Touring the interior landscapes of Fuerteventura makes for some of the most pleasurable driving in the Canaries (if you've a hire car - alternatively take one of the Grand Tours of the island which weave their way through the interior. Many visitors enjoy a grand tour, coming over first on the boat from Lanzarote!). Car hire on Fuerteventura is highly recommended, so you can really take your time to explore the beauty of this desert island's interior. There's a good choice of museums on Fuerteventura focusing on agricultural history, religious history and the Guanche pre-hispanic settlers including the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, Scaro Art Gallery and Craft centre in Betancuria, the Antigua Windmill Craftwork centre, the Grain Museum and Canarian Art Centre in La Oliva, and the Unamuno Museum in the capital Puerto del Rosario. Don't forget to view the Unamuno Monument too, south of La Oliva.
Mostly pretty arid, but with some variation - to the south is the Palm tree laden ravine - Vega del Rio de Palmas. You'll note in the centre many of what still remains an iconic feature of Fuerteventura - a scattering of windmills, most of which today are not in use and some of which date back a couple of centuries. Settlements in the interior which are particularly popular include historic Betancuria - Jean de Bethencourt (leader of the Spanish invasion of Fuerteventura) set up camp here in 1405 - the spot was well served by water and a strategic defensive position against Guanche attack. With the usual pomp and circumstance of colonists, Bethencourt named it after himself - but as you can see it's been twisted to Betancuria since. Betancuria was the island's capital for a spell.
Franciscan monks set up shop here too, and you can see the monastery still as you approach Betancuria from the north. Other sites in this historic location include the attractive Iglesia de Santa Maria dating from the 17th century, a Museo de Arte Sacro containing various examples of religious art, and the Casa Museo de Betancuria which is well worth a look particularly for its small collection of Guanche artefacts. There's some fantastic arts and crafts shops in Betancuria too - especially for ceramics, alongside some great Bodegas! There's a festival here - Dia de San Buenaventura every 14th July.
Other interior hotspots include historic Pajara, with its 17th century Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Regla, and to the north pretty La Oliva, also once the capital of the island. The Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria (covered in scaffolding at the time of our visit!) is usually the focal point of this pretty town with its notable Ecomuseum which explores the tough rural history of the island. Checkout the Rural Tourism weblink right on Fuerteventura for further details on Guanche history, museum listings and walking holidays on Fuerteventura.
Moving down to the southern tip of Fuerteventura around Cofete on the Jandia Peninsula, there's a renowned villa down here, now deserted, with an element of mystery around it. Villa Winter and adjacent abandoned hamlet of Cofete (although there is one restaurant down here - Restaurante Cofete open 11am to 7pm) is a rather spooky and derelict sight today.
Once the home of Nazi sympathiser Gustav Winter, the section of land around Villa Winter was given to him by Franco for favours rendered. The area down here in far south Jandia has some rather dubious tales attached to it regarding World War II, submarines, underground bunkers and night landings, but firm evidence of all this seems not to be forthcoming!
Still it makes for a rather spooky attraction - from a distance Villa Winter sits below Fuerteventura's highest mountain, certainly a photo opportunity! Up close it's an ugly building, derelict and chilling. Four wheel drive is highly recommended to reach Villa Winter upclose (the road rapidly detiorates at the end of the line leading off to Playa de Cofete and Playa de Barlovento. Off road jeep safari excursions also go all the way up here.