Castillo de San Jose | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Castillo de San Jose

Arrecife, Canary Islands, Spain

Peta Stamper

02 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Castillo de San Jose

Castillo de San Jose is a dramatic cliff-top 18th century fort built to protect Lanzarote’s main port from pirate attacks. Commissioned by King Carlos III, Castillo de San Jose was completed in around 1779.

Today, the historic fortress is home to an art museum boasting abstract work by Spanish and Canarian artists, including Pancho Lasso.

Castillo de San Jose history

At a time of the construction of Castillo de San Jose, the Canary Islands had undergone a period of famine and poverty caused by drought. As such, the work provided by the project of building Castillo de San Jose was greatly welcomed by the locals, leading it to being known as Fortaleza del Hambre or the ‘Hunger Fortress’.

Situated on a cliff above the Port of Naos, the D-shaped fort was an imposing structure facing the sea. In later years as the threat of raids subsided, Castillo de San Jose was used as a munitions storage facility before being left to decay.

Castillo de San Jose today

Since 1976, Castillo de San Jose has been home to the Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporaneo (Contemporary Art Museum). Visitors to the site can enjoy a great mix of the old and new, being the contrast between the older architecture of the castle and the modern artwork on display, dating between 1950 and 1980.

Wandering through the courtyard is a particular highlight, with outdoor sculptures and designs set against the fortress. Beneath the museum is a restaurant, with panoramic views of the harbour and docks below, which you can reach down a spiral staircase.

Getting to Castillo de San Jose

The Castillo de San Jose is found easily on foot by the Punta del Hornito, along the Carretera de los Castillos and between the two harbours. Arrecife ferry terminal is only a 15 minute walk from the Castillo de San Jose.

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