San Cristobal de la Laguna

The tour of Tenerife (Canary Islands):  From the old, colonial time streets of Laguna, Santa Cruz, Icod de Los Vinos to the new tourism-oriented Los Cristianos.

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       The main driving force to put our feet on the Canary Islands in the middle of the freezing winter in Europe was exactly the Freezing Winter. Indeed it turned out to be an undeniably good reason given the fact that since our landing on Tenerife we found ourselves in the friendly "arms" of an everlasting spring.

Actually, it quickly came to my mind that the biblical Garden of Eden was without doubt “misplaced” by being assigned to Mesopotamia by ancient storytellers.

Typical Canarian colonial architecture.

        After just a few days in Tenerife, I’m deeply convinced that the local climate and beauty of nature much better corresponds to our mind-generated perception of “Garden of Eden”…..

After this initial finding, we started exploring the hidden and not so hidden treasures of the island.

San Cristobal de la Laguna

    The city of Laguna was founded in 1496 by Alonso Fernandez de Lugo - the Castilian conqueror of the Canary Islands for the emerging Spanish Empire and subsequently - its first governor. Perfect location in a sunny valley protected by the mountain range with abundant water and vegetation made it an ideal place for an administrative center.

Wooden balconies reminiscent of colonial past

The Leal Theater was built by order of Antonio Leal in 1915. Its Eclectic Style represents new architectural trends on the islands. 

Casa Franco de Castilla from 18th Century 

Small niche with the image of the Virgin above the entrance door

      For almost 300 years Laguna was the largest city of Tenerife and the capital of Canary Islands. In 1833, Laguna lost its privileged position for the benefit of the nearby ”sister-city” - Santa Cruz (BTW - since 1927 the latter shares this position with Las Palmas in Gran Canaria). 

Till today the city preserves the atmosphere of the long-gone colonial times. Its narrow streets with characteristic wooden balconies hanging along buildings’ facades, richly ornamented portals, robust, dark walls from volcanic stone, make you feel that here time is moving at much slower pace….

Portal of Casa Mesa (18th century) ....

Note the beautiful coat of arms of the Mesa family. It's made of marble and topped by the crown of the marquis, a title held by Francisco José de Mesa y Ponte since 1776. 

 Casa Salazar (early 17th century)

Palace of Cristóbal Salazar de Frías (these days known as Casa Salazar)

Casa Salazar - Interior. 

       Construction of the Casa Salazar was started in 1629 by Cristobal Salazar de Frias, Count of Valle Salazar.

The predominantly Baroque style of building’s architecture includes also some pre-Columbian Aztecs elements as well as neoclassical motifs reflecting the Spanish colonial past. From the end of 19th century the Casa Salazar was the seat of the Bishop of Tenerife. In early 2006 the fire seriously damaged the building. Restored to its past glory, the Casa Salazar reopened for public in 2008.

The bell tower next to the church "Our Lady of the Conception"

View from the tower on the new residential part of the city.

People can climb the tower to view much of the city of San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Note that the tower houses the largest bell in the Canary Islands.

Nuestra Senora de la Conception - the first parish in Tenerife dated from 1496. Here the magnificent pulpit carved in cedar

      The Church of the Conception was founded in 1511. Declared as the national monument, it holds several magnificent pieces of religious art. The marvelous pulpit carved in cedar is a work of the French artist Verau. Other treasuries not to miss include large, 15th-century baptismal font made from famous Sevillian ceramics,  as well as several wooden carvings, statues, and silverwork representing the best of European and local art.

Bolong -the West African instrument used by hunters. 

        Wandering along the streets I met a very cheerful African artist playing the “bolong”. It seems to be one of these unknown to the West instruments that can deliver surprising tunes, specifically if combined with skills and colorful vividness of the artist. I regret I did not ask for permission to include his photo from the street so we all could "visually" enjoy the native African music. As you can imagine – the Artist, his Instrument and coming out of them Tunes create a “package” that you can’t fully appreciate without witnessing it in its wholeness ….

Well, maybe this will be one more reason to visit Laguna?

Past (above) and the modernity (below)

Street-cars in modern-day Laguna.

            Street-cars are the newest addition to the public transport in Laguna. The "Tranvia de Tenerife" links Laguna with Santa Cruz covering the distance of about 8 miles (12.5 km) with 20 stops.

Given the fact that the major part of the island's electricity is generated by wind farms, the tramway is not only a colorful addition but also an ecological one. The most surprising for me was the apparent availability of the Wi-Fi in public transport (OK, note that this is 2009!). But I did not have a chance to check it personally.

On the southern - touristic part of the island, at that time it was quite difficult to find an internet cafe or a bar with the wireless internet, not mentioning the fact that most of the apartments offered for tourists did not have access to the internet!

So what I'm getting from the tram's photo is that the progress is coming quickly to Tenerife (actually the progress is running on the wheels :-).

To continue the tour of cities on Tenerife go to: --> Santa Cruz

If you want to take a tour of the Tenerife's El-Teide National Park, get friendly with animals in the Loro Parque, experience the bird's view of the island when paragliding, visit the secluded village Masca, taste local potatoes or witness the unique whistling language in La Gomera then click any of the following links:

El-Teide Volcano Park - and follow several pages
La Piedra de la Rosa 
Tandem Paragliding in Tenerife
Canarian potatoes
Whistling Language in la Gomera
Loro Parque-Tenerife
Masca Village

If you enjoyed this visit, then please share your experience with friends :-)

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