Perhaps the most unique among the Canary Islands, Lanzarote astounds with its amazing landscapes. Due to a massive volcanic eruption in 1730 that lasted for six years one-third of the island was covered by a sea of lava. In 1824, a new volcano thrust out of the earth's crust and once again molten lava poured over a good part of Lanzarote, leaving a lunar landscape of more than a hundred craters, lava fields, and layers of cinders and pebbles. The dromedaries found here complete this unforgettable landscape. Fine white sand beaches have encouraged the development of seaside resorts.
Arrecife, the capital, stands on a coastal site outlined by offshore reefs. As an additional seaward defense the St. Gabriel Fort was erected in the 16th century. A drawbridge connects the fort to the town. Conquest came in 1402 when the Normans arrived. Finding little resistance, Lanzarote was presented to the King of Castile; the island became the base for expeditions to the other islands of the archipelago. Once the main islands had been conquered, Lanzarote was largely left alone. Since its coast was open and the mountains low, the island became a prey to marauding pirates in search of men and women to sell as slaves. The remaining villagers made a life for themselves, building houses and planting crops in the lunar landscape. In the fertile region of La Geria, vineyards grow in the shelter of low semicircular walls erected by the farmers as protection from the steady northeast winds. The wine produced here is known as the Lanzarote Malvasia, an excellent light white wine with a distinctive bouquet. Though there is virtually no rainfall on the island, the deep layer of volcanic pebbles absorbs dew at night and provides humidity by evaporation during the day.
As you come ashore at Arrecife, take a trip to the region of the Fire Mountains, the range which emerged in 1730 and stands out in a lunar landscape of volcanic cinder and slag. This remarkable phenomenon is the main attraction of Lanzarote.