La Graciosa History

It was in La Graciosa when in June 1799 the indefatigable German traveller and scientist Alexander von Humboldt father of modern geographic science and one of the most universal naturalists experienced for the first time the indescribable sensation of setting foot on non European soil. Before getting off the ship, the captain of the Pizarro, the vessel on board which the scientist started the fantastic expedition he wrote about in his works Journey to the equinoctial regions of the New Continent, mistook for a castle what was only a basalt rock, and saluted it hoisting the Spanish flag, until they discovered that they encountered themselves near the beautiful island of La Graciosa with not one soul inhabiting it for many miles around.

Due to the position of this island, it is not adventurous to affirm that the first expeditions to investigate the Canaries anchored by La Graciosa before any other island of the archipelago.

One of the most important commercial objects for the Phoenicians, Mediterranean naval power of renown, was the purple colouring extracted from the woodlouse, and La Graciosa was one of the places they approached, defying the limit of the Columns of Hercules to harvest the plant, which gave the oriental islands of the Canaries the name Purple Isles.

For centuries European pirates knew how to take advantage of the security and shelter given them by the beaches of La Graciosa during their raids on the Canaries. Their continuous presence even inspired the legend about a treasure that an English ship supposedly hid on the beach of Las Conchas at the beginning of the XIX century after being pursued by a pirate ship.

La Graciosa is the only island of the archipielago Chinijo that has no other heir than the Island Council by decision of Agustin de Herrera y Rojas, marquis of Lanzarote who thus established it for the benefit of the community.

Nonetheless throughout history intents to come into the possession of the Island were numerous including the one by the USA to purchase it with no success in the middle of the XIX century with the purpose to use it as a strategic enclave. Since 1812 the island belongs to the municipality of Teguise.

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