MINIGUIDE – Local History – Visit Puerto de la Cruz

MINIGUIDE

Local History

Although Puerto de la Cruz is the smallest region in Tenerife,
it has a rich artistic and cultural heritage which is a true reflection
of its prosperous commercial journey throughout the centuries.

Puerto de la Cruz´s architectural heritage, which dates back to the 14th Century and had its glory days in the following century thanks to the rich crops from the nearby Valley of La Orotava, was declared a place of Cultural Interest in 2006. The style of the region is colonial, traditional Canarian architecture, with its quaint balconies and chapels, courtyards, old forts, paths and squares which echo the past and inspire ideas for the future.

By discovering Puerto de la Cruz´ historical heritage, you will learn about the history of travel and will understand why so many travellers were attracted to this new, exotic and unexplored world.

Plaza del Charco
The heart of the city

Rays of sunlight shine through laurel trees that were brought to the island from Cuba in 1852 creating an unusual effect in this square. It’s an urban space which has witnessed the history of Puerto de la Cruz and its people.

It was originally called “Plaza del Charco de los Camarones”, and later la Constitución, Plaza Real y del Generalísimo Franco, untill it returned to its original name la Plaza del Charco. It is known that salty pools would form here from the sea which was under the ground in the 17th century. These pools were full of stones, which allowed the breeding of fish and shrimp and when the tide reached the current pier, water reached the square increasing their arrival in volume.

In the 19th century, a frequently photographed central paved area with a fountain and ñamera plant was built. The legendary Bar Dinámico which was once the social gathering point for the intellect of the city is also found here.

This is the cosmopolitan heartbeat of the city where all the paths, ideas and cultures converge.

Antigua Casa de la Real Aduana

It´s Puerto´s oldest civic building and is a typical feature in the photos of the old port and one of the most memorable images that will stay in your memory. It´s style is typical of Canarian architecture and was founded in 1620 by the Franchy family. It was later taken over by the government and used as a Customs office and residence to Tax Collectors and administrative staff.

 

It has been property of Tenerife’s council since 1997, who bought it from the Baillon family and later restored it. Nowadays, you can find the Tourist Office and Artisanal Centre on the ground floor and a visit to the MACEW Eduardo Westerdahl´s Museum of Contemporary Arts, on the second floor, is highly recommended.

Pay attention to a small cross called “La Carota” attached to the Wall of The customs office. It´s the oldest, maybe even the first of its kind, to be discovered in Puerto de la Cruz, a symbol of Christianity and part of the origin of the city’s name.

Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia Church

It’s the temple that guards the images of the almighty and the Virgin of Carmen, patron saint of the regions local festivities. It was built in the 17th Century on the grounds of an old chapel thanks to donations from parishioners especially tradesmen.

Pay attention to: Its neogothic style tower with two small pinewood balconies. The Moorish wood coffered ceiling and mosaicked Arabic tiles. There is an image of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia on the main altarpiece. The mantle given by the Cuban poet and author of “A summer in Tenerife” Dulce María Loynaz, Premio Cervantes 1992, takes pride of place. There are also four paintings from local artist Luis de la Cruz y Ríos, considered one of the best miniaturists of his time in Spain, on the neoclassic alter of the chapel Gran Poder. The cross, the city´s symbol is made of Wood and is gold plated. The baroque altarpiece of Sagrado Corazón was a gift from the Irish tradesman Bernardo Valois.

Plaza de la Iglesia (Plaza de la Pila)

You will be drawn in by its stunning gardens with various Drago trees, evergreen coniferous trees, Canarian Palm trees, laurel trees and other impressive trees. In the centre of the square, there is another frequently photographed landmark: the fountain with a stone swan.

 

 

Look out for the monument of Agustín de Bethencourt y Molina (1758-1824), one of the most important figures in Puerto de la Cruz´ history. A military Engineer and general in the Russian army during Zar Alejandro I reign and General Director of the Russian empire Transport and Communication. He was the first director in Madrid’s School of Civil Engineering. An interesting fact: he was born just in front of the place where his monument stands, where the former Hotel Monopol, the first hotel in the city, stood.

Plaza de Víctor Pérez.

The smallest yet most enchanting square in the city. Located in front of the San Francisco Church and San Juan Chapel, it was built 1904 in honour of the Doctor who stands out as the main promoter of Gran Hotel Taoro, a pioneer in tourism in the city and renowned for his botanical studies and experiments. In the centre of the square there is a fountain with a ñamera plant.

 

El Penitente

It was designed to be the docks when the main port became unsuitable for the exportation of bananas. Its construction began in 1911 but due to financial reasons, war and its natural environment, it wasn’t completed until 1930.

According to popular references, it is named after a pirate who fell in love with a maid whose family were opposed of the love affair. He would secretly meet his lover covered in a tunic that would make people believe that he was a friar in penance due to the proximity of Dominican convent.

After the Spanish Civil war, the dock lost its minute role mainly due to the construction of the port in the Capital Santa Cruz.

It’s located just behind la Plaza de Europa and the City hall. It’s a great place to enjoy spectacular views of the Martiánez coastal area, or to join the locals in a spot of fishing.

Peñón del Fraile

A special place for the locals, El Peñon, where you can get a panoramic view of the huge coastal area, is one of Puerto´s gems.

Christians used to walk along Calle San Felipe to reach modest and solitary plains also named San Felipe where a rock called “del Fraile” rises in memory of Juan de Jesus, who desired a solitary place to gather in prayer, and chose this high rock where he placed two dry logs to form a cross. As the legend goes, the next morning the high land surrounding the rock was flourishing. Also, according to legend, Pirate Caraperro´s treasure is hidden in the cracks in the rock.

In 1814, it was subjected to a major renovation Project by the Genoese Don Luis Lavaggi, who built a stairway which led to a small circular terrace. In the May, festivities, ring races and dances are celebrated here and it is decorated with drapes making the temple look like a small chapel.

San Felipe Castle

Also called the Old Port, it is one of the three forts designed to protect the city from pirate and ships attacks. It was declared a place of historical interest in 1949.

The renowned architect Cassola designed the project and it was in 1634 when Antonio Gallegos built it and in 1878 it was used as a hospital, an Infectious Diseases Institute, a warehouse, fortress, shooting club and even a restaurant.

 

 

Pay attention to: It has a colonial style pentagonal floor plan on two different levels. Back in its day, it had a moat and bridge which was the only way to enter the building (nowadays there is a fixed footbridge).The architectural structure, ammunition storage room and the parade ground that we see today were restored in the 19th century.

Today it’s one of the regions cultural hotspots where you can enjoy a varied program of poetry recitals, classical music concerts, expositions and much more.

Located in Paseo Luis Lavaggi, 12

Telephone: 922 373 039.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am-1pm and 5pm-8pm

Lime Kiln

Situated on the outskirts of this region in Las Cabezas, this lime kiln was built at the end of the 19th and the early 20th century, in the same place as the original ancient kiln.  Milestone was extracted from a quarry close to Hotel Taoro, and other materials, such as brick and clay were used to carry out the construction of the kiln.

Commonly referred to as Don Luis or Los González Ovens, English coal which arrived to the island by boat from Gran Canaria was used as a fuel source for the kiln. Limestone came from Fuerteventura which once cooked was transformed into two products: one to whitewash the walls and another to plaster and cover the walls. 14 men would work around the clock in order to produce up to 3.600 kilos of limestone. This production came to its end in 1940 due to the decline in its demand.

Pay attention to: The kiln is made up of two ovens on a square platform which are joined together by a truncated pyramid shaped furnace, a central oven with a dome and a small oven to make material to plaster walls. The original tanks, coal bunker, plaster house, limestone room where they kept the cooked material which was for sale still remain.

The Lime kiln, declared a National Historical Monument since 1993, is a reminder of the times when all of the houses in el Puerto had bright White walls thanks to the material produced from the kiln.

Where to find it: Calle Las Cabezas, nº 5d.

Hotel Marquesa

This Canarian Mansion built in 1712 as a main house and manor for the Valois-Cólogan family, which still has its original structure, is currently a guest house. Travellers and famous scientists, such as Alexander von Humboldt, stayed at this guest house. In 1887, the company Hotels and Sanatorium from La Orotava Valley leased the house and

Hotel Marquesa took over its management, in reference to its owner, Laura de Cólogan Franchi, IV Marques of La Candia. In 1995, a total refurbishment was carried out.

Look out for: It´s squared courtyard separated by four tall galleries and some outstanding carpentry.

Located: Calle Quintana, 11-13 (in front of la Plaza de la Iglesia)

Casa Palacio Ventoso y Torreón

It’s a fine example of traditional Canarian architecture, which is unique to the region and reflects its commercial past and was declared as a space of cultural interest in 1988.

Interesting fact: The tower was built by Nicolás Blanco as a way to observe the port (the first to arrive at the port would be the first to negotiate with the commercial ships from Europe)

Location: Calle Iriarte

http://www.citpuerto.com/es/puerto-de-la-cruz/lugares-de-interes/palacio-de-ventoso/

Plaza Concejil

In front of the palace you will come across a quaint square which is commonly referred to as Agustinos Square, because he was a student in the nearby school during the 20th century. It was also known as Pozo Square in the past. However it has been known officially known as Plaza Concejil since 1892.

Location: Calle San Juan con Calle Iriarte

The old Convent of Santo Domingo (or Casa Rahn)

It’s located in Santo Domingo street right next to the terrace of El mirador de la Punta del Viento. The Dominicans built it and finished it around 1659. Throughout history, it has been in the hands of the state and some private owners until it was recently bought by the council.

Location: Calle Santo Domingo

http://www.citpuerto.com/es/puerto-de-la-cruz/lugares-de-interes/antiguo-convento-de-santo-domingo/

 

San Francisco Church and San Juan Chapel

The chapel, along with San Amarao in La Paz, is the oldest building in Puerto de la Cruz. It was built between 1599 and 1608 by the architect Juan de Tejera. Next to it is San Francisco church, which is the only thing preserved from the old Franciscan convent. The temple was constructed in 1609 on the site of a chapel that once existed.

Look for: a beautiful shaded area at the entrance of the temple: Plaza de Victor Perez. It was built in 1904 in honour of the doctor and the promoter of the Gran Hotel Taoro and pioneer of tourism in the city. Fall in love with the central fountain with a “ñamera” plant and take the opportunity to read or take notes under its shade.

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