The Castillo de San Jose was built in 1799 to protect the Harbour from Pirate Attack but became known as the Fortaleza del hambre (Hunger Fortress) because of the much needed employment that it gave to the island's then impoverished population. The castle never faced any real military threat and was used as a gunpowder arsenal.
It remained in Military use until 1890, but then stood vacant until 1974 when César Manrique converted it into a Modern Art Gallery and Restaurant, the Museo International de Arte Contemporáneo.
Situated in Arrecife, the Island’s Capital, the Castillo de San José has a commanding view of the sea
Despite the fact that the Castillo de San José was originally built for military purposes, it is a beautiful and historical two-story structure with elegant features. The appealing black stone provides a wilful complement to the white walls of the castle which provides an interesting backdrop for any special event. Castillo de San José is filled with spiral stairways, vaulted-ceilings, and spacious halls which will take you back into a time past.
The spiral staircase leads down to Manrique’s own contribution to this beautiful place, a stylish restaurant and bar, predominantly decorated and furnished in black, with modern tables and chairs, and even black napkins, and a huge picture window occupying the entire front of the restaurant, overlooking the busy Puerto de los Mármoles harbour. Modern classical music in the background provides the last touch to the stylish ambiance of this place