Saturday, 23 Jan 2021

Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History.

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Are you still dreaming to wake up in a paradise? Of course, it depends what you call a paradise. Anyway, we have something really magical to offer you. In the Atlantic Ocean a hundred kilometres from the western tip of Africa there is an island Fuerteventura. Have you ever heard about it? Fuerteventura is one of the islands of the

Canary Archipelago. The main city is Puerto del Rosario. Administratively, it belongs to the province of Las Palmas. The name of Fuerteventura comes from the Spanish words fuerte – strong, reliable and ventura – luck, happiness.

Fuerteventura is an island of volcanic origin washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The island of Fuerteventura, located 100 km from the coast of Africa, is the second largest after Tenerife and has the longest beaches in the entire archipelago. It is also considered one of the oldest Canary Islands, which arose about 20 million years ago. The island of Fuerteventura is elongated and covers an area of ​​1659.74 km², stretching for 100 km in length and 31 km in width. The highest point is 807 m. The unusual form of Fuerteventura was formed as a result of a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred many thousands of years ago.

Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History. - photo 1

As in other Canary Islands, the beach season in Fuerteventura continues throughout the year.  So many people all over the world come and enjoy time on this amazing island. By the way, even researches are held till now. For example, Ukrainan journalist Konstantin Stogniy has found very interesting facts about Fuerteventura. But about them, we will talk a little bit later. So,  here you can sunbathe and swim at any time of the year, without suffering from excessive heat even in the middle of summer: the average temperature during July is +27 ° C in shade. At the same time, thanks to fresh wind and low humidity, on the hottest day you will not feel like in a sauna. The average temperature of January – the coolest month – is around 17 ° C in shade. In fact, in the daytime, in the sun, the air warms up to a comfortable +25 ° C. The water temperature in the ocean near the coast of the island during the year is almost constant: +20 ± 2 ° С. A specific feature of the climate of Fuerteventura is the wind blowing the whole island. Not very strong, but permanent.

Not only the harsh beauty in the depths of the island attract tourists. Fuerteventura is an ideal place for a quiet and measured beach holiday. The best in the Canary Islands, many kilometers of beaches with light fine sand – a business card and the main attraction of this island. Tourism began to develop in Fuerteventura relatively recently. But this is not a disadvantage for those tourists who choose the tranquil atmosphere of Fuerteventura as an alternative to well-known and crowded resorts with their always crowded beaches. Now the island is actively built up. On the coast in place of sandy hills, new hotels are growing: the market responds adequately to the increasing number of tourists. And very soon from an oasis of peace and tranquility Fuerteventura will turn into a developed tourist center, and only lonely standing old windmills – Molino – will remind of the serene past of the island.

Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History. - photo 2

Now Fuerteventura accounts for about 10% of all Canarian tourists, which is 800 thousand people a year. However, more recently this number was much more modest: over the past 10 years the number of visitors to the island has increased several times, and the number of hotels under construction in Fuerteventura has overtaken Tenerife and Gran Canaria combined. Every day several dozens of charters arrive in the airport of Fuerteventura from Germany, England and other European countries. Most tourists, many of whom come here not for the first time, go to the peninsula of Jandia and Corralejo – the main resort centers of the island. A steady wind made Fuerteventura the world-famous windsurfing center.

There is an interesting fact about symbols of the island Fuerteventura . Do you know that a goat is a symbol of the island of Fuerteventura. Goats are an integral part of the landscape of Fuerteventura: there are much more goats on the island than local residents. It is not surprising that the goat with the stylized inscription “FUERTE” became a symbol of Fuerteventura and proudly flaunts on the bumper of every second car, and in souvenir shops you will be offered to buy a sticker for 2 €.

Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History. - photo 3
Fuertegoat. Fuerteventura

History of Fuerteventura is impressive also. Many years ago Fuerteventura was inhabited by a tribe of mahors, akin to the Guanches of the island of Tenerife. In the very beginning of the 15th century the island was divided into two kingdoms: Maxorata in the north and Jandía in the south, separated by a stone wall. In Mahorat reigned Guise (Guize), in Jandia – Ayose (Ayose). In January 1405  the island was conquered by the French Norman Jean de Betancourt, who proclaimed himself back in May 1402 as the King of Canaria and founded the city of Betancuria in 1404 in the center of Fuerteventura. With Betancourt, the Mahorser kings of Guise and Ayose were baptized. In future, Jean de Betancourt considered it best to give up all the conquered and undeveloped islands of the Canary archipelago to Castile King Enrique III, and uttered for himself a life of governorship. The successor to Betancourt for the conqueror in the governor’s post (during his lifetime) was his nephew Masio de Betancourt. The marriage of the latter with the Mahoorer girl turned out to be extremely prolific: now the “diaspora” of Fuerteventura Betancourt resides almost in all the Canary Islands, as well as in Azoria, Venezuela and Brazil.

Under Spanish rule, many of the mahorers were enslaved. In a letter to the Castilian governor of Fuerteventura (1462), Pope Pius II severely condemned the slavery of the natives. In 1539 Berber pirates, imperceptibly moored to the shore, overcame the mountain range, invaded Betancuria and destroyed the cathedral.

No doubt, history of the whole island is extremely exciting but one part of it attracts more interest. Why? What is so special? Jandía is a peninsula of Fuerteventura has one specialty that was founded by the Ukrainian journalist Konstantin Stogniy and his materials formed the basis of the artilcle about an amazing island Fuerteventura.

Jandía is an incredible place. On its west coast there are the most beautiful sandy beaches of the island, which are used by surfers. On the north coast of the peninsula is the small fishing village Cofete, near which Villa Winter is located, which was built by the German businessman Gustav Winter. And it draws so much attention till now.

Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History. - photo 4

Jandia is a peninsula in the southern part of the island of Fuerteventura, famous for its tourist resort of Costa Calma and beaches of Playas de Jandia, as well as the port of Morro Jable. Here is the highest point of Fuerteventura – Mount Pico de Zarza (807 meters). In the distant past, Jandia was separated from the rest of the island by sea, but over time, sand deposits connected two parts of the land, forming, perhaps, some of the best beaches in the world. To get here is very simple – the way from the airport of Fuerteventura to any of the settlements of Jandia will take no more than an hour, and to Morro Jable and even less – a quarter of an hour.

Port Morro Jable is the most lively village of Jandia. The local beach stretches for 3 km and attracts tourists not only with its excellent sand and calm waters, but also with a giant skeleton of swordfish. From here you can go by ferry to the capital of Gran Canaria or Tenerife. In Morro Jable there are many restaurants and bars, souvenir shops and other interesting places. The coast of Jandia stretches from Morro Jable to Costa Calma at 21 km. There are several excellent beaches, for example, the beach of Playa del Matorral, that is very suitable for families. The lighthouse standing here not only serves to facilitate navigation, but also divides the beach into nudist and non-Zodiac zones. And between the beach and the road you can see swamps, taken under protection. The leeward beach of Playa de Sotavento, recognized as one of the best in Europe, is noteworthy for the very long shoal and unusual lake that arises here during the tides. This beach has long been chosen by fans of windsurfing and kiting. Less accessible beaches of Playa de Barlovento and Playa de Cofete, and the conditions here are more severe. Both beaches are well visible from the top of Pico de Zarza.

Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History. - photo 5

Of course, for some people this wonderful place is a real paradise but as every destination in the world it has its history that shows another life than nowadays. The same we can see with island Fuerteventura.

As Konstantin Stogniy says an island is attractive by its beach, that is becoming bigger and bigger every year because of sands of Sahara desert brought by wind. But this time their team was interested in locality named Jandía. But besides, in different memoirs it was mentioned as a secret base on the way of the Nazis to the South America and Antractica. In particular, there is a group of buildings remind the fortress that is situated among the rocks in village Cofete.

In 1937 Gustav Winter , a German industrialist who cooperated with Nazis, rent Jandia. In 1939 all citizens were evicted from the surroundings of Cofete. Agriculture was forbidden there. In 1941 Jandia was completely redeemed from the authorities. It became own of the industrious company “Dehesa de Jandia”.
Buildings were surrounded by fence. Around the perimeter it was guarded by security and dogs. The road to the base was built by prisoners from the concentration camp Tefia. Later these people told about buiding of the runway strip in the territory of villa. Workers told about basements and grottos that were deeply into the mountain. There was evidence about the building of the underground tonnels and mysterious underwater caves. In 50s, after the victory over Nazis, it was tried to “clean” everything. Many trees were planted on the hills. However, citizens of Fuerteventura felt underground tremors and heard sound of explosions.
“Villa Winter” is a strange construction, notices Konstantion Stogniy. Hundred kilometers territory from the west coast of Africa was bought by the Nazi Wehrmacht in 1940. And a secret building began. It was supposed that this would be a submarine base. The place is hidden from the eyes of the people. It is located approximately halfway between Europe and Latin America so fond of fugitive Nazi criminals. Local old-timers say that Hitler visited the Villa. ” I would not risk it to say for sure” says Konstantin Stogniy.
There are underground passages from the structure to the ocean. But they are blown up and filled with concrete. From the ocean to the interior of the island there are several entrances.
“We found them, but we are going to  check them next time. Soon we fly home, and after deep-sea diving – it is necessary to give the body a few days to prepare for a change in pressure.” suggests Konstantin Stogniy.
Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History. - photo 6
villa Winter
The Villa has changed and was rebuilt in a new way in 1958. Till 90s entrance to the villa was closed and it was guarded thouroughly. Now it is in desolation. The complex of structures with inner patio is consisted of three housings. Buildings are made in colonial style. In the corner there is a round high tower.  Powerful equipment could be situated there. The wall from the side of the patio is riddled by bullet footprints. “Anyway, what is rather interesting is that some archeologists come here with hope to find Nazis gold but who says that it was really here?” asks Konstantin Stogniy.
 Fuerteventura and its buildings have many secrets and people who are interested in this place still come here and want to find some answers on the questions. We can not be really sure what happened in those times and how people lived exactly on this amazing island which we know now. Some historical facts give us a general view but for many tourisits it is still a big secret that they don’t want to open but for some people this island still looks like a place that has what to show the world.
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3 thoughts on “Fuerteventura. A Magic Island with a Rich History.

  1. The La Plata trail follows an old shepherd’s path used by the island’s original inhabitants. It takes you through important natural areas such as the pine forest and lowland vegetation with native broom, buglosses and houseleeks.

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