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The future of the San Rafael farm in La Higuera Canaria near Telde, even though the years go on, remains uncertain. It has been 16 years since Telde City Council acquired the farm. The city council bought the farm from a businessman, Santana Cazorla, in exchange for municipal land in the Marpequeña area.

Cazorla previously acquired the farm from Benjumea family for 2 and a half million euros, with the value of the exchange being more than doubled, ie more than 6 million euros. The operation has been declared illegal and the currently valid judgment obliges both parties to cancel the entire deal, and both the city council and Cazorla must return the exchanged properties in the condition in which they were taken over.

Finca San Rafael

The lawsuit started relatively late and was marked by a number of appeals and procedural errors. This long elapsed time results in the actual enforceability of the judgment. Cazorla, meanwhile, had stopped the land and sold the property. The city of Telde did not supervise or care for the property, which led to many unwanted visits by squatters and robbers, who essentially destroyed the farm.

Ruins instead of a luxury residence

16 years of waiting have made the farm a perfect place to make horror movies. Everyone can enter the complex without any problems. One of the access gates disappeared and a free passage was created in the walls bordering the farm. All parts of the house are open. It is difficult to find a place in the house that would not be damaged.

Finca San Rafael

The building also included a chapel. Even it did not avoid vandal attacks. The image of the Virgin Mary is no longer on the altar, and the wooden crosses that adorned the walls have also disappeared. The only thing that has survived from the chapel is the beautiful ceiling.

As for the vast terrain that surrounds the house, it is completely neglected and dry, as are the three water tanks. It survives only a few trees, especially on the former ornamental terrace, which must have been charming in the past. There were a pergola, a fountain and a small greenhouse. Today, even of them, they are just crumbling ruins.

Water management

For every farm, even for Finca San Rafael, the basis of good management was enough water for irrigation. It was collected in three large tanks. One of the sources of water was its own well, which was located in a separate building under the house. To this day, the remains of a device that pumped water from the underground can be found in the technology room.

Finca San Rafael

In the upper part of the farm there is a cave reservoir. This tank is a unique hydrological work. It uses a natural cave, which was covered with a wall on the outside and was bricked on the inside to prevent seepage. The nine pillars supporting the vault of the cave give the building majesty and a certain dose of sacredness.

Finca San Rafael

What’s next?

It is very difficult to find an answer to this question, as well as to the question of what was the reason for the exchange of municipal land for this farm. At first glance, this seems like financial speculation. The verdict would indicate this, but I could not find the reasons on the part of the city of Telde.

Finca San Rafael

The Finca San Rafael could be used, for example, as an ethnographic museum. The house itself is a beautiful example of Canarian architecture, as is the adjoining chapel. Terraced fields with a perfect irrigation system are a prime example of how to grow crops in the Canary Islands. The well is also a unique technical monument. The cave reservoir enhances the overall experience of the farm as a place where beauty and functionality pay homage to the skills and ingenuity of our near and distant ancestors.

Finca San Rafael


Unfortunately, I was unable to get any historical photographs of Finca San Rafael in its original state. The photos in the article are from the period when there was a gradual devastation, but even so, it can still be seen that it was a beautiful family home.

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Martin Smolen

2 Replies to “Finca San Rafael – the sad fate of one farm”

  1. Hi I’d be interested to know more or have some contact for those involved, as I’m looking for a place to base a Canarian version of my UK Social Enterprise – can you send me an email for contact?


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