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| Thursday, 18 dEurope/Berlin January dEurope/Berlin 2018

Información Turística de Agaete

Historical data

Origin of its Name:

The name of Agaete appears in the written history about the conquest of Gran Canaria and reference is made to the main village or aborigine site settled in the present municipality with the same name. The Pre – Hispanic name was then changed into the Spanish name of Laguete during the modern period, and afterwards it changed again into the primitive name of its origins.

Agaete in the Pre – Hispanic times:

The first people that occupied this territory was the aboriginal community integrated into the kingdom of Gáldar, in a social so as in a political way, at that time and near the conquest from Castilla (1478), the island had been divided into two main aboriginal kingdoms: Gáldar, basically formed by the North - west side of the island; and Telde formed by the East and South part of the island. The great quantity of archaeological rests found in this locality confirms the existence of important Pre–Hispanic settlements before the conquest of Gran Canaria, so it was important in the Kingdom of Gáldar, and it was due mainly, to its coastal location and to the great quantity of resources that its valleys enjoyed.

The archaeological investigations over its patrimony done up to date, and which has suffered a continuous deterioration through the centuries, confirm the richness of this aboriginal society.

This territory presented favourable conditions for the aboriginal economy. Its vast pastures fed the flocks of goats and sheep, and the irrigated terraces in the valley also allowed the development of agriculture in humid lands, with legume and barley, which was the main cereal in the aboriginal diet. The coast also offered conditions for fishing activity, which during the coming period, maintained its prestige in the economy of the island.

We do not know about the first meetings between the European sailors dedicated to slave traffic. The exchange of orchilla and drago’s blood with the indigenous kings was to obtain manufactured goods, especially the ones made out of iron, before the Castilians reached Gran Canaria. But if the people from Mallorca reached the coasts of San Nicolás Village, they did also reach the coast of Agaete. In fact, some studies speak about a construction in the zone of Las Nieves Port, over which the Castilians constructed their Fort House. The first construction is meant to have been made by the people from Mallorca, before the Castilians arrived.

Agaete and its Role in the Conquest of Gran Canaria:

In 1478 the conquest of this island took place in the hands of the Castilian troops led by Juan Rejón, and afterwards led by Pedro de Vera in 1480, who built a fort in Agaete, with the aim to submit the aborigines.
In 1481, this Village of Agaete constituted a crucial site from which the Castilians through its natural port, nowadays known as Puerto de las Nieves, ended the conquest of this island. This port was the one chosen by the Castilian people to bring their fleets and to proceed with the capture of the Guanarteme from Gáldar, its aboriginal king, as well as to establish an operational base, which is why the fort was built, which was later denominated Fort House.

This Fort had as first mayor Alonso Fernández de Lugo, whose main deed was the capture of the Guanarteme from Gáldar (King of Gáldar) Thenesor Artemi Semidán, who was then baptized with the name of Fernando Guanarteme by the Catholic King and Queen from Spain. This man, Fernando Guanarteme, worked then as the mediator between Castilians and the aboriginal resistance.

Agaete and Its Importance after the Conquest:

After the conquest in April 1483, Alonso Fernández de Lugo was the mayor of Agaete and governor of this area, and he had a great devotion to Las Nieves’ Virgin, whose image accompanied him in his conquests, not only here, but later, in the islands of La Palma and Tenerife. The devotion to this Virgin led to the name, Port of Las Nieves.

Concluding the wars and starting from the Castilian victory, a new economic and social order was settled. At this time, the distribution of lands was carried out, and the family of Alonso received the best lands and richer springs in this valley. Years after, these lands were acquired by the Genoese Antón Cerezo and his son Francisco Palomar. They planted vineyards and constructed a sugar refinery. The good running of this activity allowed the quick growth of the population, due to the manpower demand, formed not only by workers but also by slaves, and on the other hand, it connected Las Nieves’ Port with the European markets, especially in the trade of sugar with Flanders. At this time the population of Agaete was formed by Genoeses, Castilians and the rest of the aborigines that survived, constituting a society, whose economy was based on agriculture.

The port of Agaete was an important stop-off point for ships going to the North of Europe. Besides that, it served as anchorage to the ships that traded with the island of Tenerife; it was the nexus of a vital union with San Nicolas’ village, located on the West coast of Gran Canaria.

Due to the prosperity of this sugar trade, Antón Cerezo and his wife Sancha Díaz de Zurita brought a Triptych from Flanders devoted to Las Nieves’ Virgin, Triptych of great artistic value that today is worshipped in the chapel that takes its same name.

The urban constructions arose in the surroundings of La Concepción’s Church, built in 1515.

After this period of splendour at the end of the 16th century, a crisis in sugar exports took place due to the competition with the American sugar. At the beginning of the 17th century, Agaete fell to a process of economic and social deterioration. Part of its population moved to other areas causing a block in its demographic development. The lands, dedicated to the cultivation of cereals, corn or vineyards became property of the powerful group that redeemed the best lands leaving reduced spaces for exploitation by the rest of the population. During the 17th century, the place tried to recover its demography, and due to this slow recovery emerged the main nucleus of El Valle, El Sao or El Hornillo. But the situation became worse in the 18th century; and it was in the 19th century when Agaete lived a time of commercial splendour again, especially because of the introduction of the cochineal and later on, the tomato. Also during this century, the construction of the old jetty took place, and it facilitated the trade with the rest of the islands and especially with Tenerife. From this time an important commercial bourgeoisie was developed, and both these and the agrarian landowners formed the elite people of the Municipality. It was in fact at that time with the development of this bourgeoisie class, when the construction of different buildings with social and economic objectives, took place.

The agricultural and fishing activities created a stage of relative economic wellness and an ascent in class conscience among the farmers, which exploded with violence during the world crisis of 1929, which ruined the exporting local economy.

During the decades after 1940 there was a time of a little economic recovery, due to the tomato and banana markets, which nowadays are totally outside the local economy. Nowadays and due to the shortage of water and tourist development on the island, the activities of the tertiary sector prevail over the primary ones.

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