San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the former capital of Tenerife, is an historic Canary Islands city with a long university tradition. Its model colonial layout, awarded World Heritage status, contains several of the island's major religious buildings, including the Cathedral, as well as a multitude of ancestral homes from the 17th and 18th centuries. Our hotel is located in one of them.
The city was founded more than five centuries ago, following Alonso Fernández de Lugo's disembarkation in 1494 on the Tenerife shores and the subsequent incoporation of the island to the Crown of Castile. Three years later, in 1497, San Cristóbal was founded on the banks of an inland lake situated in the north of the island. It was at this point that the city became the main centre of political and military power in Tenerife. It was also the main cultural centre, since it was here that several teaching institutions were established, including what was to be for a long period the only Canary Islands university, the University of San Fernando.
The early urban centre, emerged around the church of La Concepción, although it was not until the 16th century that the historic quarter expanded and adopted its present-day grid appearance in accordance with the rationalist canons of the period. Thus it was that La Laguna became the first non-fortified colonial city, its disposition indeed serving as a model for other cities developed in Latin America. It was thanks to this and other factors that the city was awarded World Heritage status.
On any of the streets and elegant avenues in the centre of the city it is possible to contemplate buildings of great historical and architectural merit.The church of La Concepción (1) forms part of the early settlement. Awarded Historic-Artistic Heritage status, it was constructed in the 16th century, although successive alterations have left a mixture of Gothic, plateresque and Mudejar styles.
La Laguna was a major ecclesiastical centre, which gave rise to the existence of several of the most important religious constructions in the Canary Islands. The most outstanding of them all is the Cathedral (2), situated on what was the 16th-century parish church of Los Remedios.
The Convent of Santa Catalina (3), dated 1611, is one of the most important buildings of the period. The external austerity of its church and annexed quarters contrasts with the lavishness of the ornate interior, the main features of which are two Baroque reredoses. Other noteworthy churches included the Iglesia del Cristo de La Laguna (4), the Iglesia de Santo Domingo (5) and the Hermitage of San Miguel (6), now converted into a cultural centre.
A separate mention is merited by the numerous palaces and ancestral homes that emerge at every turn through the old streets. One of the best preserved is the so-called Palacio de Salazar (7), now the seat of the Tenerife diocese.
Constructed in 1682, it has a lavish Baroque-style portal with several Neoclassical and Mannerist elements. Other examples of stately architecture include the 16th-century Casa de Lercaro (8), which now houses the History Museum and has a Mannerist-style façade; the so-called Casa del Corregidor (9) (the City Hall), a former private residence with a red stone façade dated 1545; and the Palacio de la Nava (10) (16th-17th centuries). The Convent of San Juan Bautista (Clarisas) (11), Casa Montañés (12), Linares (13) y Casa Van den Heede (14) are also very important places. With regard to 20th-century architecture, one of the major exponents of this period is the Teatro Leal (15), constructed in the Modernist style.