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The Flax Caves

El Batán -or Los Batanes, as it is also known- is a small hamlet in the area of Las Montañas, within the Anaga Massif, and belongs to the municipality of Santa Cristóbal de La Laguna.

Surprising as it may seem, El Batán was an important part of a small textile industry in Tenerife, whose work was carried out until the end of the 19th century. In particular, flax was grown there to make textiles from this plant. Material that continues to be used today.

Once the flax was harvested, it was stored in the caves and then manufactured. The plant was first submerged in fresh water for about a week to soften it. Once obtained, this more manageable stalk was beaten to obtain, from its interior, the thread, which had to be combed so that the fiber could then be bleached (with ash or fig tree). For this process, a wooden structure was used, which was moved by water and made the mallets that composed it hit the fabrics to obtain the desired thickness.

It is said that there were three fulling machines, giving rise to the place names Batán de Abajo and Batán de Arriba depending on where the fulling mills were located. In addition to these two nuclei, at present El Batán is also made up of Casas Heleras. In this last nucleus we find the parish of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, which curiously celebrates its patron saint festivities in honor of this virgin during the month of July.

If we visit this emblematic village of the Massif, we will enjoy its landscape and see the characteristic Roque Milano. From El Batán, several paths and trails start (or cross, or end, depending on the hiker) that invite you to get lost and enjoy the place. In addition to several routes through El Batán de Abajo and El Batán de Arriba, you can, for example, take the Las Hiedras trail, a hike of just under two hours that begins at the TF-143 Carretera de El Batán and ends at the TF-145 Casas de El Río, another hamlet in the area. This trail is of low difficulty and its route runs along 5 kilometers where you can enjoy the laurel forest. You will be able to observe many plant species and a fountain that comes from a spring.

The The hamlet of El Batán is a living example of the cultural heritage of the Anaga Rural Park. A walk through the different areas will show us the valuable ethnographic heritage it possesses and will leave us with the desire to extend the visit, or return as soon as we can.

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