But these are not just any rural houses, no, these are the traditional Canarian houses steeped in the fascinating history of La Palma. In fact, unlike a new house built in the traditional style, the original rural houses are more than a hundred years old, often something more like 150 to 200 years old. What they all have in common is that they are built of local stone with walls nearly two feet thick and of tea wood (the heart of the La Palma pine tree) for the floorboards, ceiling, doors and window frames. The other identifying feature is the roof of four sides, the 'hip' design or otherwise known as 'cuatro aguas,' four waters.
The roofs of the older houses are tiled in Arabic clay tiles, the first tiles on La Palma. Before this, the roofs were of bare wood, again of the highly durable tea (pronounced 'tee-ah') wood. They say the tiles were fashioned on the thigh, with the two ends different in width as in a thigh. I'm not sure how true that is but it's a story I'm happy to keep going!
|Bee motif on French tile in La Palma|
If you rent a rural house on La Palma, can you just imagine laying in bed and being able to gaze up a this lovely ceiling?
On La Palma, you'll find quite a few houses for sale and in need of restoration or houses already restored and being rented as a holiday home for rural tourism.
In the old house, the kitchen was never in the house but instead would be an entirely separate building. After all, food was cooked over firewood or pine cones and apart from any fire hazard, why contaminate the house with smoke and cooking smells.
Luckily, you don't have to content yourself with photos of rural houses as many rural houses on La Palma are for rent. And you too can enjoy a little slice of history.
* You can read more about the history of Garafia in the book 'Garafía, Descúbrela a Través de sus Senderos' - Garafía, Discover it Through its Trails' which you can get in English and Spanish (and probably German too). It's IBSN no. 846063750-6 and I highly recommend it, especially as it has many fantastic photos.