Tenerife's city La Laguna inspires with Spanish colonial architecture
Jan 12, 2010, 9:42 GMT
La Laguna, Tenerife - About 500 years ago San Cristobal de La Laguna, or simply La Laguna as it is known, was declared the capital of the Canary Island of Tenerife. Later, Santa Cruz would take over the title but La Laguna is now slowly on its way to becoming the best city on Tenerife. Culture is one area where La Laguna has been raising its profile since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage city 10 years ago.
Miguel Diaz-Llanos Canovas is a city councillor responsible for tourism. 'Yes, I can say I'm satisfied. Our visitor numbers are rising every year.' Last year saw the volume of tourists go up again and estimates suggest 160,000 visitors made the trip to see the city of 148,000 people and the third biggest urban area in the Canaries -- three times more tourists than a decade ago.
Santa Cruz is just nine kilometres from La Laguna but Canovas says there is no competition between the two cities. Despite the close physical proximity there are also no plans to form a political union between La Laguna and Santa Cruz. 'People who live in La Laguna consider themselves to be Laguneros,' says Canovas.
That has not prevented transport ties improving and since 2007 a tram line connects the two. A one-way ticket on the Canary Islands' only railline costs almost two dollars to travel its 12.5 kilometres. The line rises 500 metres on its way to La Laguna and the city's altitude above sea level means it is usually four degrees cooler than in Santa Cruz on the coast.
Its temperate climate makes it an excellent place to go strolling. Canovas' office is situated in an historic building in the city, the Casa de Los Corregidores. The 16th century structure is located at one end of Calle Obispo Rey Redondo and is close to many of La Laguna's opulent houses.
Calle Obispo is a pedestrian zone and a good spot to begin a tour of La Laguna's narrow streets and wide plazas. Plaza del Adelantado with the city hall and marketplace is an impressive site together with La Laguna's villas, churches, cloisters and stately homes.
There are small stores to go shopping in and bars that serve delicious tapas and wine from the region. 'Anyone who opens a business in the old city centre must respect very strict regulations that protect the historic architecture,' says Canovas who recommends visitors stop by one of La Laguna's bakeries. 'If you like sweet things you should try a Lagunero, a cake named after our citizens.'
La Laguna was laid out in the Renaissance style of town planning of the 16th century and those terms of reference hardly changed over the centuries. Spanish colonial cities such as Havana or Lima were laid out in the same pattern.
La Laguna is also an important ecclesiastical centre with some of best preserved church buildings the Canaries have to offer. The Catholic Bishop of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro still maintains his seat in the city and church buildings make up many of the interesting structures visitors come to see.
One of the city's landmark buildings is the spire of the church of La Conception which was constructed at the end of the 17th century in a quadratic shape and made of ashlar rock. The main church building was built earlier in the 16th century.