Arrecife is a natural harbour protected by a barrier of islets and reefs. At the beginnings of the C15, a small fishing community formed on the banks of El Charco de San Gines. It has been dated from 1403 as being a port used to bring provisions to Gadifer.
In the surroundings of San Gines, an aboriginal population was established. Under the constant pirate attacks, a fort was raised that, after being burned, was rebuilt as El Castillo de San Gabriel.
In 1630, the trader, Francisco Garcia Santellas, constructed the hermitage at San Gines, now converted into the parish church of San Gines, where one can admire the salt carpets that the islanders made for the festival of El Corpus.
Arrecife formed as a city at the beginnings of the C19, when the capital of the island passed from being Teguise to Arrecife due to the trade in la barrilla (used in the production of soap) and cochineal (valuable natural colorant), and its fishing fleet. In 1908, the first commercial port was built.
Its festivals are the most important as they are the oldest - San Ginés in August involves popular music, sailing competitions, etc.
El Puente de Las Bolas and El Castillo de San Gabriel were created by the Italian, Leonardo Torriani, who was charged with the task by Felipe III in 1590 in order to protect the island from pirate attacks. Previously there existed a fort at this location, but it was burned by the pirate, Arraez Amurat, before he invaded the island.
In 1972, it was restored and converted into El Museo Arqueologico y Etnografico. Visiting times: Monday to Friday 8am to 3pm. Telephone: 928 811 950.
El Castillo de San José was built in the 1779, and is today the location of the International Museum of Contemporary Art which holds a permanent exhibition of recognised painters of the C20. Also, one can visit the well-known houses of the capital, which are perfect examples of residential architecture: Casa Agustin de La Hoz or La Casa de La Cultura situated in La Avenida Generalisimo Franco, where one can see exhibitions. Opening hours: from 9am to 1pm and from 5pm to 10pm.
La Casa de Los Arroyo was built in 1793 by Colonel Domingo Armas Bethencourt, the military governor of Lanzarote. Today there is a permanent exhibition about the scientist, Blas Cabrera Felipe.
El Charco de San Gines is a pleasant place to enjoy a walk - surrounded by fishermen's houses and with its agreeable lighting at night. The parish church of San Gines, a symbol of the capital's history, enjoys splendid acoustics.