Betancuria Old Town
Fuerteventura’s former capital Betancuria lies in a picturesque valley
next to a dried up stream which flowed up until the 16th century
Walk through the historic capital of the Canary Islands
Located in the mid-west of the island of Fuerteventura, Betancuria is one of the most important colonial landmarks in the history of the Canary Islands. Founded in 1404 by the Norman Knight Jean de Bethencourt, the town’s location was chosen for its secluded inland position to offer a better defence against pirate attacks. The town reached its peak in the 18th Century due to its abundant dry crop harvests. Today the entire local economy depends on tourism.
Fuerteventura’s religious colonial town
A walk through Betancuria gives visitors a glimpse of the previous way of life in Fuerteventura. The colonial town, recognised as a heritage site in 1979, offers tours around its many religious buildings. Highlights include the church of Santa María de la Concepción; the chapels of Santa Inés and Nuestra Señora de la Peña, as well as the old Franciscan convent of San Buenaventura.
A visit to the Museum of Sacred Art and Fuerteventura´s Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography is also recommended.
Founded in 1405 by the Norman conqueror Jean de Bethencourt (hence the name Betancuria) has a fair amount of history behind it.
The reason for its location was to protect the capital from pirate attacks, although in 1593 the pirate Jaban penetrated the Betancuria and reduced everything including the Santa Maria church to a pile of rubble and ash.The church was not rebuiltuntil 1691.
Betancuria was capital for quite some time until the local people started moving away from the town due to lack of arable land. In 1834 Betancuria bowed down and handed the honor over to La Oliva (who then handed over to ‘Puerto de Cabras’ known today as Puerto del Rosario).
On the main street running through the town is the Casa Museo Arquebiologico, flanked by the famous cannon the building contains a collection of important and fascinating archeological finds. Highlights here include fertility idols, an idol frieze that was discovered near La Oliva, and also numerous farming implements.
The Centro Insular de Artesania, next to the museum, documents traditional arts and crafts.
Betancuria’s income comes mainly from day visitors. The church which has now been fully restored is open to the public from 10am until 6pm and there’s also a church museum.
If you really want to see some local handicraft this is the place to come. Try a visit to the ‘Casa Santa Maria’ where you can watch the local artists at work and even purchase some of the hand made products from the quaint local shop.
The Santa Maria restaurant serves excellent food with a superb view of the workshops and the village. If you’re still up for it, you can then try out the wine and cheese tasting next door.
Museum opening times
From Tuesday to Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 2pm