Overlooking the ancient capital of Teguise, not to be confused with Costa Teguise, is the Castillo de Santa Barbara. Also known as the Museo de la Pirateria, this fascinating museum sits on the top of Mount Guanapay. The old fortress was originally built in the 16th Century as a watch tower. Its purpose was to protect islanders from pirates and privateers such as Sir Francis Drake who was known as El Draque (The Dragon) to the Spanish. It’s even rumoured there’s a tunnel that connects Castillo de Santa Barbara to the town of Teguise which islanders used when they were being invaded.
Having spotted the castle from Teguise, our favourite of the towns we explored, we had to check it out. Castillo de Santa Barbara is easily reachable by car and took us less than five minutes to reach. Walking there would probably take about 15 minutes as it’s uphill but less time coming down. Like much of the area, the scenery is breathtaking albeit more lush than the southern part of the island. We decided to have a look around before venturing inside. We were quickly rewarded with spectacular views and lizards aplenty basking in the sunshine. Six year old POD wanted to capture one but of course they were way too fast for her!
Having taken in the views we made our way to the entrance which took us up some steps and over a drawbridge. Heading beneath a stone archway and down a narrow corridor, we were greeted with a giant wooden model of the old capital in a vast room. POD got to pretend to be a pirate which pleased her greatly and there was lots to have a look at. With most of Lanzarote’s population living in Teguise, this first section provided a fascinating insight into the political and military power the ancient town had.
You’d never know there are seven rooms to explore, each joined by thin corridors. Lanzarote was one of the islands most threatened by pirates so the museum covers not just piracy in the local area but also in the Canary Islands as a whole. The museum provides such an interesting journey depicting life between 1551 and 1618. Figures of well-known pirates such as John Hawkins, Francis Drake and Robert Blake are also visible. The weapon hall is impressive, showcasing guns and canons used by pirates along with models of an old Spanish 106 cannon galleon. There are models of ships, ancient documents and a conference room showing films. What makes this museum that little bit special is that you don’t know what to expect from room to room (hence not spoiling it). Once you’ve seen what’s on offer inside, you can venture to the top of the castle where the views are simply spectacular. And all for the minimal fee of €3 each.