In the north of Lanzarote, crowned the small island of La Graciosa, is situated one of the islets that is also part of what it is known as the Archipelago Chinijo: Alegranza. The most part of the time the islet has been uninhabited, but not always. Alegranza has lot of history and its landscape well worth a visit, provided that you have the permission of its owners.
But let us begin with the origin of its name. There are not exactly data but the first historians attributed the name to the Normans that after a long time sailing they were happy to see land. However, in some maps that date from the 14th century appears this name, so before the arrival of the Norman. For that reason, it is believed that it comes from the Italian name “Allegranza” of one of the galley used by the Vivaldi brothers in their trip to the “Lucky Islands” in 1291. O maybe from any Majorcan ship that arrived to the islands looking for slaves. It is difficult to know exactly the origin or perhaps do not know it makes our imagination run free.
The islet of Alegranza belonged to the echelon of Lanzarote till the middle of the 16th century. The marquis of Lanzarote gave to Mr. Diego de Cabrera Leme and then had different owners till in 1612 Andrés Lorenzo, a sir from Fuerteventura, bought it. This fact cause a conflict between the sirs from Lanzarote and Fuerteventura because the Alegranza islet was high valued due to the great colony of Canary birds. They captured them and the birds were exported to the European market.
Till the 19th century the islet was not inhabited. In 1861, José García Lugo, the owner of Alegranza in that moment, gave up to the State a piece of land to build the lighthouse, known as Punta Delgada or the Alegranza lighthouse. The islet was inhabited by the lighthouse keeper and his family.
The lighthouse was opened in 1865. It had a retro-reflector devise of 4.2. order, with revolving light with eclipse every 30 seconds. It had an a range of 13 miles. The height of the lighthouse is 17,5 meters over the sea. The tower is conical and grey and has attached a house to the lighthouse keeper and his family. In the central part of the house there is a tank that get the water of the rain. However, the shortage of water made difficult the supply to the family, so later they built another tank to get the water from the mountain. With the progress of new technologies the islet was uninhabited. In 2002. this lighthouse was declared Cultural Interes Site (BIC, according to its acronym in Spanish) with the category of monument.
Nevertheless, this lighthouse is not the only attraction of the Alegranza islet. It is a place with rich in marine life and with uniques species of birds. A place where peace crowns and that worth a visit and walk around, but always taking into consideration the safety of the local fauna.
Just when you arrive to the little port you will see the charm of the place. Its volcanic cone, a crater known as Caldera, is the responsible of the emergence of the islet from the sea.
Maybe its distance, its wild coast or the continue protection of the islet by the authorities has helped to conserve this natural place. Alegranza has been a place to rest or a refugee to lot of birds, even a perfect place to the breeding of some birds like the Scopoli’s shearwater. But it is not the only one, the prohibition to visit this place has contributed to give the perfect conditions to their breeding to species like petrels, storm petrels, falcon, kestrels, seagull, river hawk or the western osprey. The birds of prey are sensitives to the changes caused by humans in their habitats, so Alegranza islet has all perfect conditions to settle there. During breeding season is absolutely forbidden visit the islet. And the rest of the year it is necessary to ask for permission and the visit are always controlled and only few hours. However, as sometimes happen in other places, there are people who go with their own ships there without thinking about the damage their cause.
Without a doubt, a visit to this place is a unique experience. If you have the opportunity, take a kayak and go into the jameo. The clear crystal water and the surroundings will captivate you.