San Bartolome

San Bartolome, Lanzarotes largest resident municipality after Arrecife, is known as la cuna (the cradle) of the islands rich folkloric tradition. With a population of nearly 5,000, San Bartolome boasts the cultural centre at the Monumento del Campesino (Monument to the Peasant Worker) as well as rich agricultural land including the district of La Cena, where the islands major vineyards are found. Here the world-famous Malvasia wines of Lanzarote are produced from grapes grown from individual vines, each surrounded by a semi-circular wall of volcanic stone. The walls of these vineyards, which spread for acres over the black terrain, so impressed U.S. designers, due to their protective qualities and the fact that they allowed enough air through their holes to ventilate the plants, that the local farmers of La Cena won a prestigious North American design award for engineering.

Marvel at the walls as long as you wish, but dont forget to taste the local produce. The bodegas of El Grifo and Mozaga are both open to the public, and within the tintos (reds), rosados (roses), blancos (whites), secos (drys), semi-secos (mediumdrys) and dulces (sweets), you're bound to find one to suit your taste.

The cultural centre at the Monument, designed by Lanzarote artist Cesar Manrique, has a restaurant and bar where folkloric shows are staged from time to time. Theres also an arts and crafts shop and a gallery of works by local sculptor Juan Brito, depicting legendary figures from Lanzarote's preconquest history.

Another thriving cultural centre in San Bartolome - and one which is wel1 worth a visit is Casa Ajei , a recently reffurbished old manor house near the centre of the town, which has a small museum, and is home to a number of cultural groups includmg the internationaliy-known folk group Ajei.