Finca El Malpaís

Finca El Malpaís

In Tenerife and in general in the Canary Islands, a land which predominantly consists on stony volcanic lavas with no agricultural soil is known as as malpaís, literally badland. It is a local word, that has its origin in the French "mauvais pays" which is part of the description that Normand soldiers at the service of Castile did of areas of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura in Le Canarien in early XVth Century.

These are areas that require a "sorribado", a strong investment transporting fertile soil from the wooded hills of the island of Tenerife to these poorly soiled but hot coastal territories of the Island, hence made suitable for tropical and profitable export plantations such as sugar cane or more recently bananas.

The Estate or Tenerife mansion described in this article, sits on a floor qualified as “malpaís” which was gained from the sea in some prehistoric volcanic eruption or due to the loosening of coastal cliffs through sea erosion; which was subsequently "sorribado", to generate the vast exploitation in insular terms of 600.000m2. It is occupied entirely today by banana trees and known as "Finca El Malpais".

This Estate in the town of El Guincho, (local name for the osprey), is in the municipality of Garachico, in the northwest of the island of Tenerife. It is a region known as the Lower Island and is situated in the land parcel which was given to Mr. Cristóbal de Ponte, Genoese merchant and banker, in 1507, as part of the payment for having previously funded, in part, the conquest of the island of Tenerife between 1494 and 1496.

Therefore this Tenerife mansion has its origins in the sixteenth century, while the construction of the chapel of the Estate took place in 1565 and the constitution of its “Mayorazgo”(Majorat) is dated in 1608 .

This Tenerife mansion is characterized as are most of the large rural estates in Tenerife, for having an L-shaped plan, and therefore for having an open courtyard, which in this case is presided over by a dragon tree over five centuries old and Canarian palm groves planted in 1902.

But besides the beautiful courtyard and impeccable pedigree this fabulous Tenerife mansion, is unique for its precious “ajimez” (wooden shuttered balcony), reminiscent of cloistered convents of the island of Tenerife at that time.

This Tenerife mansion, five centuries later, is still owned by the Ponte family, who has preserved this architectural jewel to this day, transforming it into a beautiful rural hotel, known as Hotel Rural El Patio, from whose website we have obtained the photographs illustrating this article.