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Masca, the 'Machu Picchu of Spain'
03 April 2021 @ 22:32

MAYBE it wasn't built by the Incas, but it's almost as old and equally as fascinating, panoramic and vertiginous: Spain's answer to Machu Picchu is not a staple on the tourism trail, but probably should be.

The thin edge of the wedge: Masca, in the Teno Rural Park (photo: Tenerife tourism board)

You'll need a head for heights to visit this enclave, but once you're up in Masca in the Teno Rural Park nature reserve, you'll be so blown over (only metaphorically, unless strong winds are forecast) that your knees will forget to turn to jelly if you look down.

Masca forms part of the wider village of Buenavista del Norte and is one of a handful of tiny hamlets, basically farmsteads, in the Teno Rural Park along with El Palmar, Teno Alto, Las Lagunetas, Las Portelas, Los Carrizales, and Erjos, all of which are more or less self-sufficient, living off their arable and livestock industries – they eat what they produce, and only work enough hours a week to produce what they eat, meaning most of the agricultural hands are in the family and their labour is part-time, as it doesn't need to be anything more.

And it literally sits on the sharp edge of a mountain peak.

Tiny, traditional-looking country houses, winding lanes, dense forest, dramatic and sheer cliff-faces plunging into seemingly bottomless chasms, with the Atlantic Ocean as a moat, this splendid and unusual little haven on the Canarian island of Tenerife is, in fact, a local heritage site, and is said to be one of the best examples of timeless rural architecture in the region, if not in the whole of Spain.

Traditional houses, originals or replicas, in Masca (photo: Ronny Siegel/Wikimedia Commons)

Although, in fact, not all of its houses are particularly old; many were destroyed in a huge forest fire in 2007 – but they're all designed in keeping with a style that has been in use for centuries, some of them embedded into the rocks of the abyss, so in theory, nothing has changed in Masca since time immemorial.

Except for a road or two and the occasional car, of course.

Ancient pottery kilns, teak workshops and bread ovens, communal farm fields, and of course, birds of prey – eagles aplenty – can be found in the wider radius of this village that teeters on the blade of an abrupt crest miles (half a mile, anyway) above terra firma.



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