Places of Interest in Tenerife – CASA FUERTE DE ADEJE
Last updated: 20th March 2021
1. The Story of La Casa Fuerte de Adeje
For visitors looking for culture and history (and some of the best views in Tenerife South!), no visit to Tenerife is complete without a visit to historical Casa Fuerte de Adeje.
Established by the Ponte family from Genoa in the 14th Century, this beautiful estate began life as a Sugar Mill. However, with the increasing menace of pirates operating in Canarian waters, the family requested permission from the King of Spain to construct a fortress on the site. In the year 1555 a tower was added to provide shelter in case of an attack. The Gun Platform was particularly well equiped – and according to records, by 1655 featured 56 muskets, 46 pikes, 17 cannon, 400 cannonballs and even a trumpet.
Over the years, the Sugar Mill prospered, eventually becoming the longest-standing mill in the Canary Islands, continuing until 1811. Cane sugar became an integral part of the local agrarian-based economy. However, mystery and intrigue surrounds the buildings and architectural layout at the finca between the 16th and 19th centuries, as detailed plans of the more recent castle and palace were not drawn up until 1873.
Whilst the mill retained some slaves, the workforce included a number of freeworkers, administrators and even butlers.
The influential Ponte family ruled Adeje for over 3 centuries until the last family member died in 1766 without heirs. However, by 1779 there were 57 people living at La Casa Fuerte, by which point the property was run by administrators based in Madrid.
During the family’s reign, they held local nobility titles such as ‘Lord of Adeje’, ‘Count of Adeje’ and ‘Marquis of La Gomera’. They also created an impressive family archive which records their Wills, Dowries, Land Transactions, Inventories of Goods and Accounting documents, much of which have been preserved to this day.
Over time, the estate grew to an immense size and included an oratory, granaries, stables, a boiler house, an infirmary, a bagasse store, a tank, a cellar for honey, wine and brandy, a bakery, an accounting office and a sugar storage room.
In 1811, the area began to suffer from fatigued and overworked land and a plague of worms, which adversely affected the cane fields. La Casa Fuerte therefore shifted away from sugar production towards vineyards and fruit plantations.
Yet more disaster struck La Casa Fuerte on 9th April 1902, when the property suffered a devastating fire, destroying its main buildings, palace and granaries. Paradoxically, the oldest parts that existed up to that date, namely the Castle / Tower and the Gun Platform, still remain standing.
There has been speculation that the fire could have been started deliberately to lower the value of the land. Either way, it is part of the tragic legend and opulent decadence of Casa Fuerte. Fortunately, the magnificent archive, which was stored away from the main building, survived intact. There also remains old furniture, family portraits, weapons and chain mail among other things, which had been transferred to Madrid several years before.
Land belonging to the Ponte family was also later acquired by the Fyfes banana company and Mr. Henry Wolfson, an Englishman of Jewish and Russian origin who founded the commercial exploitation of bananas and tomatoes in Tenerife for export to the rest of Europe, particularly England. This led to the establishment of cooperatives, which by 1887 had brought prosperity and an agricultural ‘heyday’ to Tenerife.
In 1904, the Curbelos family relocated from Gran Canaria and settled in La Casa Fuerte. They soon improved and expanded the buildings, bringing the property into the modern era.
Products such as bananas, aubergines, oranges and lemons were grown and then shipped via Valito dock to the Spanish peninsula and onto the rest of Europe, bringing substantial prosperity to Tenerife. Many workers travelled from La Gomera and Gran Canaria to work at La Casa Fuerte, which at its peak, employed between 40 to 50 workers, approximately half of whom were women.
Over time, La Casa Fuerte’s production began to suffer from growing, cheaper competition from the Spanish peninsula and a reduction in local subsidies. Fruit packaging and export eventually stopped in the 1980s, although tomato cultivation, primarily for local markets, continued until after 2010.
Now substantially renovated and opened to the public, La Casa Fuerte is one of the oldest standing buildings in Tenerife. The wonderful estate offers a glimpse into historical Tenerife, where visitors can immerse themselves in 5 centuries of Canarian history. A walk around the ruins on the three accessible sides of the estate is a must.
Located at the very top of Adeje Old Town, simply drive up through the old town and La Casa Fuerte is hard to miss. Or you can catch the 416 or 417 bus from Los Olivos, which both run past La Casa Fuerte – and then walk the final part up the hill. Visitors booked on a tour should start at the Shop opposite the Fort, where one can also purchase some amazing souvenirs, including a fascinating book about the Fort’s history, available in English.
CONTACT INFORMATION AND MAP
Tours are not always possible without prior notice, so it is strongly recommended to make an appointment in advance by phone or email.
Official Website: https://www.cafutenerife.com/
Address: ‘El Mundo de Casa Fuerte’, Calle Concha García Álvarez 12, Adeje, Tenerife
Tel: +34 623 047 041 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
OPENING HOURS – Historical House & Shop
Wednesday: 10:00-12:00 15:00-17:00
Thursday: 10:00-12:00 15:00-17:00
For more Places of Interest, Excursions and Things to Do in Tenerife, check out our main index: HERE