La Laguna is not lacking in monumental residences that need a new purpose. Society has done away with massively wealthy families like the Lercaro, and their block-sized city palaces. (Actually, we do still have plenty of such families; they just no longer deign to live among us.) Anyway, it’s good to see historic homes like the Casa Lercaro put to positive, public use, as is the case with La Laguna‘s fantastic Museo de Antropología y Historia, or MHA.
The Casa Lercaro is just one of many historic homes found in the old quarter of La Laguna, though it might be the largest. The palace was built in the late sixteenth century for a powerful family of commercial magnates from Genoa, and a visit to the museum is almost as fascinating for the tour of this ancient home, as it is for the exhibitions themselves.
For newcomers to Tenerife, this is an excellent way to spend an overcast day. The museum takes you on a guided journey from classical times, when the Canary Islands are referenced in Greek texts in association with mythical places like the Elyssian Fields or Atlantis, up into the modern age. Along the way, you’ll learn about the Spanish conquest, the spread of Catholicism, the economy of the island, and the daily lives of its inhabitants. There’s a room dedicated to ancient maps, and a study of modernity’s challenges, including tourism and emigration.
A tip for making the most of your visit: although the information printed in the museum is exclusively in Spanish, they do offer a free audioguide in multiple languages. It’s accessed through your mobile phone, and so you’ll want to bring your own headphones — the guide is quite good, drawing your attention to the most important pieces and providing extra context where necessary.