Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands

A Journey into the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma

Aid Arcades
Secular arcades at the base of the building of the Ayuntamento de Santa Cruz de La Palma.
arched alley
Alley leading to the heart of Plaza de España.
Exuberant Bouganvillea
Hedge of Bouganvilleas shines between a white wall and a balcony of Santa Cruz.
Calle Real de Santa Cruz
Facades of the buildings that delimit Calle Real, on the verge of Plaza de España.
Belfry of the Church of San Salvador
The volcanic stone tower of the Church of San Salvador, at one end of Plaza de España.
big balcony
Palm tree reinforces the tropical look of one of the many corners of Santa Cruz de la Palma.
Santa Catalina Castle
The rear facade of the Castillo de Santa Catalina, facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Front of Castillo de Santa Catalina
The fortified front with moat of the Castillo de Santa Catalina.
Divine statue honors musicians from Santa Cruz de La Palma.
Iglesia Santo Domingo
Cyclist trains stunts in the Iglésia de Santo Domingo
Plaza de España
The Manuel Díaz statue in the center of Plaza de España in Santa Cruz de La Palma.
Avenida Marítima Balconies
Residents talk on two planes on Avenida Marítima and its balconies.
Santa Cruz de La Palma
Entrance panel in Santa Cruz de la Palma, decorated with the city's famous Enanos.
Leafy Balcony
Diverse vegetation hangs from one of the traditional balconies on the Avenida Marítima in Santa Cruz de La Palma.
Nau “Santa Maria” cloned
Cyclist kid practices in front of the replica of the "Santa Maria" ship, the original one commanded by Cristóvão Colombo.
It began as a mere Villa del Apurón. Come the century. XVI, the town had not only overcome its difficulties, it was already the third port city in Europe. Heir to this blessed prosperity, Santa Cruz de La Palma has become one of the most elegant capitals in the Canaries.

With the end of the afternoon, the day's work obligations ended, a multitude of holy cruceros flows into Avenida Marítima.

There, with only the black sand separating them from the frenzy of the Atlantic, they unwind from their routine, given over to eager walks and runs and lively conversations. On the opposite side of the road, other less breathless chats unfold.

Over the years, Santa Cruz had to make architectural concessions to modernity.

When we admire the first lines of the houses from above the seafront wall, we notice the exuberance of its carved wooden balconies, several of them adorned with flowers, plants and vines.

From one of them, less vegetal, a chatty resident with a friend who accompanies her with her head bowed. They debate any confusing combination.

Journey in the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Varandas Avenida Marítima

Residents talk on two planes on Avenida Marítima and its balconies.

The hostess throws a key down. Then an envelope. Both repeat the “Vale, Vale” of approval typical of the Castilian, all this under the supervision of a group of elderly people living together at a table on the terrace nearby.

We noticed a porch on the side. It housed such abundant vegetation that only the upper part of the structure was uncovered. From it hung almost forests of different plants.

Busty and exuberant like the beards of the conquerors who left Iberia for the world.

Travel through the history of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Veranda vegetation on Av. Marítima

Diverse vegetation hangs from one of the traditional balconies on the Avenida Marítima in Santa Cruz de La Palma.

Although the other islands having their own abundance and diversity of colonial buildings, the set of balconies we enjoyed is considered the most prodigious in the Canary Islands.

Side by side, in a short stretch of the avenue, they appear grouped with different looks, with emphasis on the balconies dobles, it is said that they are inspired by the traditional Portuguese verandas and sluice-gates.

In Santa Cruz de La Palma, the use of Portuguese typologies and solutions is everywhere. The historical core of the village, developed around La Alameda, followed the pattern considered to be Portuguese: linear and adjusted to the coastline.

The balconies, in particular, were adapted as a cooling solution for the hottest days, on a seaside where the owners could count on the breezes from the Alísios, there coming from the northern quadrant.

Despite the beauty and fame they gained, they were considered secondary structures of homes. The fronts of the respective buildings still face the main street of the city, divided between Calle O'Daly and Calle Pérez de Brito.

At the origin of the origins, prior to the predecessor to Villa del Apurón, those backyards of houses had the sea underneath.

They housed toilet compartments, equipped with holes that allowed direct flow to the former surf zone of the Atlantic.

A journey through the history of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, building with balconies

Building with traditional verandas full of plants, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Colonial Origin of Villa del Apurón

The town's predecessor hamlet was founded in 1493 by Alonso Fernández de Lugo, a named conqueror adelanted.

When the European navigators arrived, the Canaries remained under the control of the Guanche indigenous people, divided into fierce subgroups that defended La Palma and the other canary islands. Now, the Guanches resisted the European invaders throughout the XNUMXth century.

Alonso Fernández de Lugo led the Castilian forces in several of the crucial battles fought against them, particularly in Tenerife.

In one of them, the First Battle of Acentejo (1494), he was one of only five survivors. By that time, the resistance of the Guanche Benahoritas from the northern neighbor, La Palma, was already dominated.

The regalia erected by de Lugo occupied a coastal stronghold at the time known as Tedote, one of the divisions of the island established by the Benahorites.

Travel in the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Tedote

Coastal area of ​​the island of La Palma that the native Benahorites called Tedote.

In 1542, already governed by De Lugo's nephew, it became Villa del Apurón. This baptism was the result of the hardships experienced by the Castilians in combat against the Benahoritas.

Because the town was founded on the Hispanic day of the Invención de la Santa Cruz, Villa del Apurón coexisted and alternated in writings and records with Villa de Santa Cruz.

The Noble Architecture and Urbanism of Santa Cruz de La Palma

Unsurprisingly, due to clerical influence, this last name overlapped. Santa Cruz became popular in history as Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Santa Cruz.

When we visit it, the title and name are in effect. Santa Cruz is now one of the Canaries' resplendent island capitals.

Journey through the history of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, eenanos

Entrance panel in Santa Cruz de la Palma, decorated with the city's famous Enanos.

We continue to discover it.

From Avenida Marítima, we enter the urban grid that the relief of La Palma made less geometric than elsewhere.

The narrow and shady alley in which we find ourselves, reveals the moat and portico of the Real Castillo de Santa Catalina, with its front facing the Atlantic, a military sense that saved many lives.

Even if the fortress resulted from a typical context of “house robbed, locked at the door”.

Journey through the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Castillo Santa Catalina

The fortified front with moat of the Castillo de Santa Catalina.

The building of the castle began in 1554, the year after the invasion and looting led by the Norman pirate François Le Clerc, better known as the Pau Leg, if only because he actually had it.

A few dozen meters above, among palm trees, we enter the Plaza de La Alameda.

There remain, over there, a few more examples of historic facades and windows that take us to the north of Portugal. The bandstand itself at the heart of the square is as much Canary and Spanish as it could be Portuguese.

A journey through the history of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, La Alameda

Palm tree cuts the pastel facade of a house in La Alameda de Santa Cruz.

The Homage of Santa Cruz de La Palma to the Sailors of the Canary Islands

At the opposite end of the garden, in a dry dock, we find a replica of the “Santa Maria” caravel, one of the three that Christopher Columbus commanded in search of the western route to the Indies.

His small fleet set sail from Palos de la Frontera, Huelva, on August 3, 1492. Six days later, it reached the Canaries.

Columbus undertook to reinforce the ships for the stranger who awaited him. He also tried to recruit Canarian sailors, famous in Europe for having the best knowledge of the seas and for being fearless.

On September 5, at last, Columbus left for what he thought was Asia. Without knowing how, he discovered the Americas for the Old World.

The replica of the “Santa Maria”, now transformed into the Naval Museum Barco de la Virgen, was built next to the Barranco de las Nieves in La Palma, as a central element of the Festas Lustrales de la Bajada de la Virgen.

Despite its original religious purpose, it celebrates the discovery of the Americas, the marine tradition of Santa Cruz and the participation of sailors from the Canaries in Columbus' expedition.

Calle Real and Plaza de España, the Majestic Heart of Santa Cruz de la Palma

As we admire it, two young acrobat-cyclists are entertaining themselves with terrestrial and terrestrial rides in the square in front. They take their training so seriously that they ride and jump in full-length helmets, all closed.

Journey through the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, replica of the Nau Santa Maria

Cyclist kid practices in front of the replica of the “Santa Maria” ship, the original one commanded by Cristóvão Colombo.

Above all, the squares with staircases attracted us, an abundant combination of the historic and sloping Santa Cruz. We would have to cross paths with the duo a number of more times.

The following meeting took place in the domains of Calle Real and Plaza de España, where the Town hall of the city, acclaimed as the most impressive Renaissance ensemble in the Canaries.

Even though they knew about the ban, the kids rehearsed some moves there. Until a passing policeman is in charge of expelling them. And to restore tranquility to the secular setting.

Plaza de España has long maintained a dual function in the city, with blurred borders.

The façade and bell tower of the Church of São Salvador (both Gothic) are bordered by a series of stately homes and the town's Consistorial Houses.

Travel in the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Plaza de España

The Manuel Díaz statue in the center of Plaza de España in Santa Cruz de La Palma.

In the center of the complex, there is a statue of Manuel Díaz, a priest, politician, educator and man of prominent culture, in Santa Cruz, in the first half of the XNUMXth century.

Opposite the church, under the inquisitive gaze of Manuel Díaz, the arcades under the Ayuntamento are a guarantee of shade and shelter from the rain.

There we see elderly residents sitting, catching their breath from their shopping walks.

Journey in the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Ayuntamento arcades

Secular arcades at the base of the building of the Ayuntamento de Santa Cruz de La Palma.

Other prodigious architectural centers, even if not as imposing as the one in Plaza de España, contribute to making Santa Cruz the revered city of the Canaries that it is.

More and more enchanted, we feel compelled to understand how a village in the archipelago, so far from Seville and other big Spanish cities, had achieved such attributes.

From Realengo de Fernández de Lugo to the Port City of Europe

Well, the subtropical climate and destiny dictated that, at a time when it was still new, sugar cane grew in abundance in La Palma.

So prolific that the city's port exported it in large quantities.

Later also wine and even silk.

Five years after the destruction at the hands of François Le Clerc, Felipe II (I of Portugal) decreed the creation of the first Indies Judgment.

He chose Santa Cruz de La Palma because, despite the damage caused by the corsairs, the city has once again proved to be the most commercial of the Canaries.

Travel through the history of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Calle Real

Facades of the buildings that delimit Calle Real, on the verge of Plaza de España.

From then on, any Spanish vessel with commercial purposes would have to register with the Indies Judgment before leaving for the Americas.

As intended by the king, the influx of merchants, uninterrupted transactions with the American colonies and northern Europe substantiated the prosperity of Santa Cruz.

In the XNUMXth century, both in number of boats and in commercial activity, the city's port was second only to those of Seville and Antwerp.

The Historical Elegance That Lasts

Today, the imperial era in Spain has long ended, Santa Cruz de La Palma retains an undeniable regional importance.

The city's port ensures the transport of people and goods with the rest of the Canaries and southern Spain.

Even so, Santa Cruz de La Palma found itself outnumbered by the banana-producing municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane.

When it comes to historic and architectural elegance, it remains unrivaled.

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East of White Mountain Island

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