A unique Lifestyle
Anaga has a population of over 2,000 people spread over twenty villages and hamlets, disseminated by the geography of the massif. The rugged terrain and the difficulties of communication, made each one of them keep some characteristic features, being till a few decades ago, the footpaths the only means of access, through winding paths that surround ravines and peaks. Although architectural models have changed, Anaga has not lost the essence of its villages, preserving numerous samples of different modes of housing used throughout the centuries, the cave house, the thatched house, traditional domestic housing and large estates.
Visiting the villages and hamlets, and talking to people, brings us in contact with a unique culture and tradition.
The village is located in a valley guarded by high rocky ridges, and crossed by the ravine Tamadiste, which is one of the few canyons of Tenerife with permanent watercourse, which allows the practice of agriculture based on irrigation, yielding plenty of yams and other crops.
This ravine was of certain importance for the inhabitants of the valley, as it permitted access to the cropland located on its slopes, to the beach of Tamadiste and to the road to Taganana. Also eels were caught, reeds were cut and willow sticks and bulrush grew in puddles, which were used to make baskets and ropes that were used in household chores or in the production of wine. A legend tells that a giant eel, known as the hairy eel, lived in the ponds of the region terrorizing people.
In the vicinity of the village one of the last well preserved thermophilic forests of Anaga is located: the sabinar (juniper) of Afur, with specimens that can reach considerable size.
Currently, the village consists of a few tens of houses, although some residents recall that there were only two, and the other buildings were barns and caves. In the 60s the hermitage of San Pedro was built and the festival is held on the second Sunday of July.
Other places of interest: Willow woods (Salix canariensis) and waterfalls in the course of the ravine.
This migrating fish (Anguilla anguilla) is found in few places in the Canary Islands, always associated with watercourses. Among all its traditional uses culinary stands out, remedy against drunkenness or cleaning of tanks.
Located at the mouth of the ravine of Almáciga, slightly elevated above sea level on a coastal terrace, lies a natural vantage point to contemplate Anaga’s coast.
The name refers to the presence of almácigos (Pistacia atlantica), species characteristic of thermophilic forests. Its resin was used to make varnishes and perfumes. These activities, together with the exploitation of its timber, caused the rapid retreat of these woods of which in the present only exist isolated examples.
The village developed an important agricultural activity, yet retaining some traditional crops in terraces, but it was also associated with fishing and shellfishing, as the voices of its inhabitants witness.
There are still some traditional-style homes and religious buildings, such as the chapel on the street Las Toscas and the chapel of Nuestra Señora de Begoña, built in the late 40s of the twentieth century in her honor, whose festival is celebrated the fourth Sunday in April.
Life goes on peacefully in this village, only interrupted by the occasional passing of a pedestrian.
Other points of interest: coastal rocks where it is said that has sunk a Spanish galleon.
Its black sand and stone coves, battered by strong waves, are very popular for surfing, although at certain times of year they can be dangerous for swimming.
Wrapped in woods and rocks, in a valley of the Punta de Anaga, lies the village of Chamorga. It is the most populated village of this small area, its origin dating back to prehispanic times when it was a temporary settlement of the Guanches, who took advantage of the abundant grass and water of the place. This resources allowed, after the Conquest, the development of an important agricultural activity, associated, amongst others, with land reclamation and forestry.
The winding road ends in the enclave, from there you can only explore its paths by walking. From this village you have access to several hiking paths leading to Roque Bermejo, La Cumbrilla, Las Palmas de Anaga and El Draguillo. In the village center you find the hermitage of the Immaculate Conception, whose feast is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of September.
The way of life that is kept up by the locals, is based on self-sufficient agriculture and livestock, although the latter is almost nonexistent. One of the unique products are Chamorga´s rustic potatoes.
Emigration has reduced markedly, since the ‘60s, the population of this village and all the region. Coastal villages like Maria Jimenez and El Suculum have grown through this migration.
Other points of interest: Casas de la Tafada and La Atalaya, from where you can contemplate the north coast of the massif.
The Drago (Dracaena draco) is an endemic species of Macaronesia. In the gardens of Chamorga, residents have planted dragon trees, more than 100 as they themselves confirm.
Although it was inhabited since prehispanic times, as attest several rock carvings in the surroundings of the village, the first written references to this village date back to 1506, making it one of the oldest on the island. It was also one of the last villages of Anaga which gained road access in 1992. Chinamada still preserves much of its traditional architecture. At the end of the nineteenth century, most of the inhabitants lived in caves or in barns, buildings with walls made of stone and mud and topped by a straw roof.
Grazing and cheese production were important economic activities, although at present they are only testimonials. Agriculture is still present in the gardens arranged around the houses, and as vestige of the cereal crop, the village square is built on two eras.
Noteworthy is the Roque de los Pinos, a bio-geographical rarity of the massif, where a small pine forest (Pinus canariensis) grows associated with a unique species to this enclave, the Jara of Anaga (Cistus chinamadensis).
The village festival is held the third Sunday of August in honour of San Ramón Nonato, whose chapel was built in 1988.
Other points of interest: Aguaide Lookout.
Chinamada is a treasure of traditional architecture, with some very special ethnographic features since most of its houses nowadays are still carved into the rock, though adapted to modern needs of their inhabitants.
Rural settlement concentrated around the hermitage, located on a hill between deep ravines, close to the forest and surrounded by innumerable farming terraces. One of the largest populations of Anaga, after Taganana.
The nucleus originated from exploitation of the mountain, especially for the production of charcoal, from which it derives its name.
Many times, these activities were clandestine, but they guaranteed a supplement to the low family income. The men were responsible for the preparation and production and the women carried the bags, secretly with the complicity of another woman who warned when she saw the guards, to sell them in Santa Cruz and La Laguna. The colliers were pursued for cutting down the forest illegally, as well as for causing the risk of burning the forest. Today coal is not produced any more, but there are still teachers in Anaga who show their art on festive occasions.
At present the main activities are agriculture and livestock, especially oriented to potato production and processing of products such as wine and cheese.
Well known are Thanksgiving and the celebration in honor of San Isidro and Santa María de la Cabeza, held in late June.
Other places of interest: Roque Tenería, Tesegre Plains and the path Las Escaleras.
The ovens were built by stacking logs, being the most valued brezo and tejo. Subsequently it was covered with ferns and earth, leaving in its central part a hole through which the fire was ignited. After some days the charcoal was ready.
Situated on the banks of a ravine it is divided in the Batan de Arriba and the Batan de Abajo. It arises from a land distribution in the year 1511, preserving several samples of traditional domestic architecture.
The ravine was organizing some of the activity of the valley since, in the sixteenth century, a hydraulic complex was installed capturing its water to irrigate the gardens and orchards, and to be lead to the flour mills and fulling tools associated with the linen industry. To learn a little more about this piece of history you can be make the Self-guided interpretive “Trail of the Lino” that leads to the so called Cuevas del Lino. During the seventeenth century the area specialized in grain, yet having a dozen eras spread over its surface.
Yams has always had great importance in the local economy. This crop needs very wet areas, grows all season and is highly appreciated at Christmas. Today it is combined with potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit, vegetables and vineyards that produce wines of excellent quality, ecological and with certification of origin.
Strolling in Batanes is like getting lost in history, not surprisingly a neighbour comes out on the road to start a conversation. The lively local festival takes place the second half of July, attracting many visitors.
Other points of interest: Bejia, Lomo de Los Dragos and Valle de los Morales.
The spring water was used for drinking and was lead to the communal laundry, carved in limestone (volcanic rock). The “Fuente Grande” dates back to 1915 and was the first one built in Los Batanes.
This coastal village is named after the reddish (vermelho in Portuguese) rock located at the entrance of a black sand beach, guarding suspiciously this part of the island.
It originated from being a seasonal settlement of fishermen from San Andres and La Punta del Hidalgo, giving good shelter and lying halfway between the two villages. Over time they settled down definitely, and built a hermitage, where some of the neighbors married.
Simultaneously to the lighthouse was built a small landing stage, generating commercial movement of local importance, being the seaway the easiest and fastest way of communication with Santa Cruz. From here travelled passengers and freight was exported, like part of the wood harvested from the mountain, converting it in the most active port for export of the products from the Punta de Anaga to other areas of Tenerife, or even to other islands. It is currently used by the few residents of the village and recreational water crafts.
It is still possible, especially in summer when the village is permanently inhabited, to hear stories from the past told by those who lived them like the women who carried on their heads the fuel to feed the lamp of the lighthouse in exchange for 1 peseta (0,006 eurocents).
Other points of interest: White Houses (the oldest group of houses), Hacienda del Cura and the beach.
It was built in 1861. Its lamp worked with olive oil, paraffin, and until the nineties (twentieth century), petroleum. It is still in use and is one of the few beacons of the era that remains largely unchanged.
On a rocky ridge at the foot of the rock with the same name, lies one of the most distinctive landmarks of Anaga´s landscape, where once was located an aboriginal settlement. Sabino Berthelot, in his “Annals of Ethnography and the Conquest of the Canary Islands’ (1849), relates that the people of this place wore wool coats against the cold and damp of the mountain. In Morocco exists a Berber village called Tabornost, meaning village of the capes, which may give clues to the origin of these residents.
In Taborno you could find many barns, stone buildings with thatched roofs, of which remain only a few examples restored in the style of an original home. The rest perished in a fire in the early twentieth century. Among its buildings we can find the hermitage of San Jose, built in 1948, whose feast is celebrated on the second Sunday of June.
Taborno, by its strategic location, is kind of a balcony to the landscape of Anaga. From this place the eye can enjoy gorges and mountain mists.
The ranching tradition of this place stems from the decision of the council, taken in 1526, whereby the Valley and Cliffs of Taborno are declared enclosure for goats, as it was considered a remote place.
Other places of interest: Forest tiles (Ocotea foetens) in the Monte de la Hoya.
In this village can be found two of the largest herds of goats of Anaga, proudly looked after by their owners, whose milk is used to fabricate an excellent cheese.
This village, which meant for the Guanches Place of the Rocks became the first settlement of Anaga, which is proofed by the installation of a sugar mill right after the conquest. In the present it is the most populous town in the region.
In local architecture stand out the buildings of traditional character with gabled roofs, painted woodwork and thick walls of stone and mud. Other, religious, buildings are the Church of Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves and the hermitages of Santa Catalina Martyr (XVII century) and Nuestra Señora de La Caridad del Cobre (1980´s). The main church of Taganana and its environment were recently recognized as a Cultural heritage. Some local festivals are: the day of Taganana´s patroness, Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves (August 5), the Quema de San Judas (Holy Saturday) or El Baile del Niño (December).
Around the village can be found many terraces and gardens with tropical crops, potatoes, millet, sweet potatoes, etc. This landscape, once, was covered with large vineyards, a very important crop for the economy of Taganana. This is demonstrated by the wine presses excavated in the limestone (volcanic rock), used to prepare the vine, so valued in the past when it was exported. Today on the fields you can find most of the varieties of vine that exist in the Canary Islands, which can be considered a reserve for an important number of them, which seemed to have disappeared.
Other points of interest: village of El Chorro, Barrio del Portugal, and Tachero.
Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves
The church of Our Lady of Las Nieves is one of the first built in Tenerife. The richness of its decorative elements remember of the prosperity of the past.
Odors from the Monteverde invade the senses;
flavors of gofio, wine and cheese,
sublime landscapes with its noble inhabitants,
ancient stones, carved by hand,
would tell magic stories
about the villages of Anaga...
Texts and translations provided by GAP Rural.