The history of the municipality of Tías began with the volcanic eruptions of the 18th Century. These eruptions not only buried 13 of Lanzarote’s towns, but also a number of fields that were used to farm the island’s typical cereals. On an island already arid by nature, the population grew gradually weaker as a result of long periods of drought and several pirate attacks, which led to almost apocalyptic consequences. Many tried to flee the island, an audacious act that was punished with death by the Spanish Crown as it fought not to lose Lanzarote as a strategic military base.
Many of the inhabitants of the towns that were ruined escaped to nearby villages with few occupants. By this time, the area was already known as Tías and was considered the poorest region in Lanzarote until the arrival of tourism. As well as breeding pigs and goats, the fields were used to grow legumes, onions, tomatoes and grapes. It was not long before the farmers realised that the tragic volcanic eruptions had in fact blessed the soil: the porous volcanic ash captures and retains humidity, which slowly feeds the roots of the plants and, during the day, it creates a protective layer over the earth, preventing evaporation. In the second half of the 18th century, the soap obtained from the barrilla plant, or prickly saltwort, was exported even as far as England from the small dock of Puerto del Carmen. The next few centuries brought few changes to Lanzarote. But at the end of the 60’s, yet another period of drought forced the women and children to take care of the land while the men spent months out at sea fishing. The gradual inflow of tourism brought on by the opening of the hotels Los Fariones and San Antonio, as the only accommodation available, gave the islanders hope for a brighter future..