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Guatiza

 In

Guatiza is a village in the municipality of Teguise in the northeastern part of the island of Lanzarote in the Las Palmas province in the Canary Islands. Exactly 2 km from the east coast of Lanzarote, 8 km east of the town Teguise and 14 km northeast of the island’s capital Arrecife. With a population of around 800 people – including a high proportion of emigrés from Northern Europe – most visibly from Germany and the UK.

Guatiza is best known for its Cactus Garden, created by César Manrique. It covers 5,000 m² and has over 1,400 types of cactus and over 1,000 different species from America, Madagascar and the Canary Islands.

Guatiza was originally located on a slope of the mountain in which the cemetery stands today. The Moors sacked Guatiza’s homes several times in the past and built their houses in a secure area to protect themselves from the pirates.

The landscape in Guatiza is stunning; a magnificent blue sky arches over an endless green sea made up of thousands of prickly pears growing in the volcanic ash. The really interesting thing is that they are not grown for their fruit, but rather for a small parasite that invades them. If you look closely, you should be able to see how the plants are colonised by little whitish insects (Dactylopus coccus), commonly known as cochineal. The insects are used to make carmine (a natural red dye with a very strong, resistant colour) and are of great commercial value.

The main square in Guatiza is dominated by the impressive 17th Century village church. Whose distinctive twin bell tower is clearly visible from the main eucalyptus lined road that runs through Guatiza. This is the heart of the village and the focal point for local fiestas and festivals.

Park up here and wander around the streets running off from the square. Which still boast plenty of fine examples of Canarian architecture. As well as plenty of land which is still given over to the cultivation of the Tunera cactus.