San Cristóbal de La Laguna
The historical centre of San Cristóbal de La Laguna is one of the Canary Islands’ cultural treasures and is a representation of a colonial Spanish city without walls. It has the best preserved and most beautiful old towns in all of Tenerife and has held the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site since the end of the 20th Century.
San Cristóbal de La Laguna was the first city founded in Tenerife, in 1496 by Adelantado of the Canary Islands Alonso Fernández de Lugo and has been a source of inspiration for cities like Old Havana or Cartagena in Colombia.
In the years following its foundation, the elite and aristocracy based themselves in the city, making it the de facto seat of political and religious power on the island. During these years, La Laguna also became a centre of cultural, artistic and scientific brilliance, and was considered the cradle of the Enlightenment on the archipelago. Its importance on the religious level is manifested in the several religious buildings that are built in the old town, in particular the Church of La Concepcion (Iglesia de la Concepción), which is the Mother Church for the islands temples.
Today, the streets of La Laguna are full of life and University spirit, with no lack of cafes, good restaurants, and shops of all types. These are some of its landmark spots and buildings:
- Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena. Inaugurated in 1611 as a cloistered convent, it became one of the most popular and rich in heritage in Tenerife.
- Monastery of Santa Clara de Asís. Founded in 1547, it was the first female convent on the island.
- Convent of San Juan Bautista. It was inaugurated by the Franciscan Order of the Poor Clares in 1577, and has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest.
- Former Monastery of Saint Augustine. Founded at the beginning of the 16th century by Augustinian friars who arrived from the Iberian Peninsula.
- Royal Sanctuary of Christ. One of the most important Catholic temples in Tenerife, since it houses the Santísimo Cristo de La Laguna, one of the most revered images on the island.
- Cathedral of San Cristóbal de La Laguna. Construction from the 16th century, declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument.
- Church of the Immaculate Conception. Mother Church of the island of Tenerife, from which most of the island’s churches are born.
- House of the Captains General. Built between 1624 and 1631 by the Captain General of Tenerife, Diego de Alvarado. Today it houses the San Cristóbal de La Laguna Town Hall.
- Palacio de Nava (Palace of Nava). 16th century palace, representative of the cultured architecture of the Canary Islands.
- Lercaro Palace. Property from the end of the 16th century, built by a family of Genoese merchants from Tenerife, the Lercaro. Today it houses one of the headquarters of the Museum of History and Anthropology.
- Salazar Palace. Baroque style construction built around the year 1691, by the Count of Valle de Salazar. It is the seat of the Bishopric of Tenerife.
- House of Letter. Remarkable example of a manor house in Tenerife. Built during the 18th century. It is one of the headquarters of the Museum of History and Anthropology.
- House of Blessed Father Anchieta. Former home of José de Anchieta, a Jesuit missionary in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, originally from the Canary Islands. Character of great influence in the history of Brazil, having been one of the founders of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
- Hospital and Church of Our Lady of Los Dolores. The history of this architectural ensemble began in the 16th century, when the hospital was built, which was later expanded with the construction of the church in the 18th century.
- Teatro Leal (Leal Theatre). Despite being inaugurated at the beginning of the 20th century, today it is one of the most recognized heritage landmarks in the historic center of La Laguna.
- Corregidor’s house. Building built between 1540 and 1546. It served mainly as a residence for the Corregidores of the island. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
- House of La Alhóndiga. It was built between 1705 and 1709, and housed administrative departments.
- Former College of Las Dominicas. Neo-Gothic style building, designed by the architect Mariano Estanga. It hosted the College of Dominican Mothers for many years. It is currently part of the La Laguna City Council.
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