El Charco de San Ginés: a wonderful place

El Charco de San Ginés is one of the most emblematic spaces in Arrecife, the capital of the island of Lanzarote. But don’t let its name fool you: although the “puddle” evokes something small and unimportant, in this peculiar lagoon the first and important port of the city was created. A port that at the time had an intense maritime traffic.

Despite being a natural saltwater lagoon, This puddle has been part of the historic center of the capital of Lanzarote for centuries. In fact, it is in its most attractive part, known as the neighborhood of La Puntilla, an enclave where the Arrecife Town Hall itself, the Puente de las Bolas or the Castillo de San Gabriel are located.

In addition, there is the church of San Ginés, which gives its name to that photogenic puddle. Its visual appeal is based on the traditional white houses surrounding the waters and that have always been the home of the fishermen, who dock their smaller boats in the Charco de San Ginés.

El Charco de San Ginés today

Nowadays, only small boats can drop anchor in the Charco de San Ginés, perhaps not so much because of the draft of this marine lagoon, but because of the low height of the bridge that there is on its exit to the ocean. This bridge becomes a barrier for large ships.

And it is that this natural port has somehow become part of the urban fabric of Arrecife. In its surroundings, the main streets of the city await us, streets such as the Real or the Avenida Marítima, where restaurants and shops abound to make the best purchases during this trip to the island.

And what about its history?

In another time, the Charco de San Ginés was the great port of Arrecife. Initially it only accommodated fishing boats, but its good docking conditions meant that almost all the ships that brought supplies to the island, or from other Canary Islands, and the ships that set sail from ports on the Iberian Peninsula, such as Cádiz , would like to unload their goods here.

However, the ships that came to this place did not only come from Spain. Close contact was also maintained with ports on the neighboring coast of Africa, and it was even a stop on trade routes to Caribbean places like Cuba.

This increase in maritime traffic in the Charco de San Ginés meant that, over time, the city of Arrecife became the capital of Lanzarote. This was a rank formerly held by the city of Teguise, to the north.

At the same time, the city was growing, and its port had to be protected. Hence the different forts and castles that we can see today in the vicinity of Charco de San Ginés, such as the aforementioned San Gabriel, or the Castillo de San José, which was built to defend the site from pirate attacks.

The festivals of Sangineles

The importance of the Charco de San Ginés in the growth of Arrecife is such that even the popular festivals of the city are called San Ginés, and without a doubt, they evoke the dedication of the parish church of San Ginés, which since the 17th century stands next to to the waters of the lagoon.

Like the place it becomes the best setting for a seafaring procession on the day of the Virgen del Carmenpatron saint of fishermen and the Canary archipelago.

The visit to Charco de San Ginés

We have all heard about the great attractions of Lanzarote, one of the meccas of tourism in Spain. This is generally attributed to its incredible Timanfaya National Park, its volcanic beaches or the beauty of César Manrique’s artistic works scattered around the island.

However, to that list of claims we undoubtedly have to add the Charco de San Ginés in Arrecife, a place that tells us about the past and the historical evolution of the Canary Islands. Most interesting and beautiful!

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