|The St. Barbara Castle is a kilometer east of the historic center of the town of Teguise, on top of a volcanic cone, the Montaña de Guanapay. The full name of the castle Castillo de Santa Bárbara y San Hermenegildo (Castle of St. Barbara and St. Herménégilde or St. Hermangild); but the castle is often called Castillo de Guanapay.|
The Castle of Santa Bárbara is located 452 m, 135 m above the town of Teguise and offers a panoramic view of the north of the island of Lanzarote. This strategic position has already been noticed by the Genoese navigator Lancelotto or Lanzarotto, Malocello, the “re-discovered” the islands that the authors of antiquity called them “Fortunate Islands”, the Canary Islands; Lanzarotto Malocello gave his name to the island of Lanzarote, where he settled from 1312 according to some sources, but more likely around 1336. Lancelotto Malocello (in French: Lancelot Maloisel; mal-ocello: bad bird) had built a watchtower atop the Montaña de Guanapay, probably to monitor the aboriginal tribes Guanche, but they finally rebelled and drove out the s island after 20 years.
Lancelotto Malocello relates in his memoirs:
" Feci costruire un castello, sul quale sventolò per anni il vessillo della Repubblica di Genova, una croce rossa in campo argento.”
"I built a castle which, for years, floated the flag of the Republic of Genoa, a red cross on a silver field. "
In the middle of the sixteenth century, after the looting of Teguise in 1551 by the French privateer, a native of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Le Clerc (El Clérigo), said “Jambe-de-bois,” Sancho de Herrera did strengthen turn into a castle designed to defend Teguise against the incursions of corsairs and pirates. Around 1571, the castle was reinforced by Agustín de Herrera y Rojas. This castle - the shape of a diamond - could house around 1,000 people. However the castle of Santa Bárbara could not resist the attack of captain (arráez) Barbary Morato in 1586; the castle was destroyed to the foundations.
In 1588, at the inability of local lords to defend the island, King Philip II of Spain sent the Canary Italian military engineer famous Leonardo Torriani to inspect and improve the fortifications of he is. In 1591, the St. Barbara castle was rebuilt by Torriani with the form we see today. The castle, of rhomboid shape, has a platform artillery surrounded by ramparts with watchtowers at the corners; is accessed by a drawbridge.
Despite this, in 1618, the Barbary pirates Tobacco and Soliman managed to sack Teguise.
From the seventeenth century, the Castillo de Santa Bárbara lost its defensive significance due to the construction of new fortifications in the port of Arrecife, and artillery was dismantled. With the disappearance of pirate attacks in the early nineteenth century, the castle lost all strategic value. In 1899 it was reused as a military dovecote; in 1913, ownership of the castle was transferred to the town of Teguise. The castle fell into disuse.
In the 1960s the association “Amigos de los Castillos” took over a first restoration; Restoration was completed in 1977 by the Spanish government.
From 1991 to 2010, the castle of St. Barbara housed a small ethnographic museum, the museum of the Canary Emigrant (Museo del Emigrante Canario). Through documents, letters, photographs, personal items, luggage, museum traced the long history of emigration of some 23,000 Canary Islanders who, forced by famine caused by drought, had to migrate to America South, including Cuba, Venezuela and Argentina.
Since 2010 the Castillo de Santa Bárbara houses a museum more in keeping with the history of the castle, and more attractive to tourists: a museum of piracy. The collections of the Emigrant Museum were transferred to the historical archives of Teguise (Archivo Histórico de Teguise), Casa Perdomo, Calle Carnicería 6 (visits by appointment).