Die Villa Winter

The alleged holiday home of a German general, as some travel guides call it, appears both massive and remarkable, with two floors partly built into the slope and a northeast-facing tower whose function remains unclear today, despite speculation.

The incredible effort with which this house was constructed is already visible from the outside. Large, round arches, beautifully devised wooden balustrades, and numerous details in the house’s interior, which also features a spacious courtyard, demonstrate the creative drive that must have envisioned a grand goal.

Don Gustavo, as the locals referred to Gustav Winter, must have had immense financial means and plenty of human capital to realize his vision. It is said that local workers were only permitted to work on the construction site with the strictest confidentiality and were forced to leave the area again every evening. The entire peninsula of Jandía was declared a restricted zone. But presumably, in addition to locals, German helpers were also brought to Fuerteventura. The mysterious cemetery situated by the beach gives rise to wild speculations on this matter.

The villa’s tower is said to have served as bearing point for submarines or airplanes landing at the nearby airfield at Punta Jandía. What was the purpose of constructing this villa which sits in the middle of wasteland, infertile soil, and on one of the longest beaches on the Canary Islands?

The area’s volcanic origins suggest that it harbors a cave system beneath its surface. This would mean that Winter built the villa – which could have been built in many other locations – on top of an already existing grotto. Allegedly, it provides a subterranean connection to the sea. This rumor is questionable, as those who know this coast also know that slopes in and around Cofete are too shallow.

However, the idea of lava caves becomes less crazy when you consider that the Cuevas del Viento on the island of Tenerife present the largest subterranean (lava) cave system in the world, and that the neighboring island of Lanzarote is also home to extended volcanic caves, the Cuevas and the Jameos del Agua. The island of Fuerteventura also harbors little caves here and there which have given rise to suspicion of a connection with Winter’s activities (for example, the caves of Ajuy).

Villa Winter’s tower is only accessible from the top two floors, specifically only on the middle floor with its small, rectangular windows. This floor also houses a huge fuse box. Its dimensions lead to the assumption that this tower contained, or maybe still contains, equipment that had a high power requirement.

Many details can be found in and around the villa’s courtyard, including a water spout in the form of a carved, wooden crocodile head, or the typical doors with the Winter emblem, a carefully engraved “W”, that appear more like the mysterious entrances to an enchanted castle than the house of a German engineer.

Only a small part of the villa’s ground floor can be accessed. A staircase leads visitors past the locked doors of the tower’s lower floors and into a type of kitchen consisting of a pantry, a dumb waiter, a sink, several work surfaces, and an oven. Several additional doors follow on from here, some of which are locked or bricked up.

The west side of the villa provides additional entrances to the partially blocked off part of the ground floor. A tiny hole in one of the doors reveals a long corridor with several doors on its right-hand side. Another window is completely locked and covered up, behind it lies a long corridor without doors or windows. The function of this last corridor cannot be explained. The rooms on the ground floor are all situated along one long hallway. These rooms are accessible, but all empty.

An old rail vehicle, marked by exposure to weather and erosion, stands in the villa’s courtyard. It gives a hint of the truth behind the speculations, as the old vehicle was made by the Krupp company. Railway pieces near the villa, which can be followed about 200 m to the east of the villa on a route that leads to the mountain, provide evidence of bustling mining activity …

The book MYTHOS WINTER – Die Wahrheit über den deutschen Ingenieur Gustav Oskar Winter (The Myth of Winter – The Truth About the German Engineer Gustav Oskar Winter) will be published in a German, Spanish, and English version in September 2018. Illustrated with numerous images, maps, and photos, it will unveil the secret of the legend of Winter on Fuerteventura …