Sunny Canaries

Island Architecture
Before the Spanish conquest and colonisation, the native people lived in caves and simple huts where caves could not accommodate the growing population. These small seasonal shelters had walls of stone and thatched roofs usually circular and oval. Remains of these dwellings can still be seen in certain parts of the island although many were utilised and changed over the years by the colonisers and are unrecognisable. For example a small settlement of circular Guanche shelters have been made into houses by local people at Cofete (close to the restaurant) and if you look closely you can still see some of their outlines. Unfortunately the Guanche culture was not considered worthy of preservation in past times and very little traces remain of their homes and way of life.

Architecture gradually developed after the Spanish conquest and buildings were either simple common style or, less frequently, refined and stately. Socio-economic factors dictated the type of house built, as there was no local architectural tradition apart from the native one.

In the XVI century, the Canaries in general began to introduce a series of artistic models from Europe adapted to suit the local climate and landscape which, together with other factors, such as shortage of materials and skilled labour, contributed to the creation of the islands architecture.

Humble homes were simple- one storey arranged in a longitudinal or L-shape, the walls were made in dry-stone usually painted with lime. Many limekilns can still be found around the villages and are being gradually restored. The roofs were generally formed from beams, branches and straw. Rain water collection and conservation factors were built into the design of the homes which can be seen in the form of water channels that are located nearby; these direct the precious water into the “aljibe”  (round or arched stone walled subterranean reserves) Sometimes wells were dug but the resultant water was almost always saline.  Drinking water was filtered through a special type of stone that was cut and crafted and hollowed into a u shape then set into a wooden stand with a pottery urn to catch the filtered water which stayed surprisingly fresh and cool.
Sometimes an oven was located nearby, these domed stone walled structures were used for the family baking.

Sometimes an oven was located nearby, these domed stone walled structures were used for the family baking. A fire was lit in their interior and then scraped out once the oven had reached a high enough temperature; the food was then placed inside and the door closed.  Kilns of similar design and function were also used for firing pottery. Many of these ovens can still be found by old traditional houses and ruins although nowadays rarely utilised. A group of houses in this style can be visited at Alcogida, Tefia where a small farming community has been restored.

The most beautiful of the common traditional houses can be found in a few of the villages which were more prosperous such as Betancuria the old capital, these are generally two-storey with the storeroom downstairs, the bedrooms and a small sitting room upstairs. The kitchen, wine cellar and stalls are separate buildings. The houses are occasionally decorated with geometric designs and occasionally stone that came as ballast in ships returning from South America.
The type of architecture visible in public buildings can be classed as civil, religious or military style.

The construction of the other most significant buildings of the municipality of La Oliva was also undertaken in this era of splendour, the Church of La Oliva, (Our Lady La Virgen de la Candelaria.) and the chapel of Puerto Escondido, in La Oliva. Other Military architecture was based on the island's defence requirements, with forts to deter attacks from foreign and pirate ships such as the Castle of El Tostón, in El Cotillo.

During this period, the island had a strong farming and livestock tradition, and was able to provide the other islands with grain for some time. However, after three years of drought and bad crops, work came to be abandoned, and in some cases there was migration from the interior to the coastal areas. 
Later, the influx of labour to Corralejo consolidated the area as a tourist destination.

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