As we look back at our time on Tenerife, I bet we’re going to regret having spent so little time in the capital city, Santa Cruz. Every time we visited, the experience was better than we had expected. This city is small, but packed with worthwhile things to see — not least of which is the park of García Sanabria.
The Parque García Sanabria is the largest urban park in the Canary Islands, and probably was one of the first, seeing as how it was created in 1926. The park’s namesake, Santiago García Sanabria, was mayor of Santa Cruz at the time — he oversaw the building of the city’s sewage system, but otherwise isn’t especially remembered for any great accomplishments. Except, of course, getting his name slapped on one of his city’s primary features.
We drove into Santa Cruz, and circled the park about three times, looking in vain for a parking spot — “traffic” is never going to be among the many things we love about Tenerife. Eventually, we found one which was probably mostly legal, and accessed the park from the northern entrance. Right away, we realized the García Sanabria park would consume way more of our time than we had reckoned, thanks to its sheer size, and the number of bizarre sculptures which populate it.
In 1973, the park was the primary scene for the First International Exposition of Street Sculpture. 43 world-renowned sculptors (including names like Joan Miró, Henry Moore and Julio González) descended upon Santa Cruz, and made it … stranger. This was the seventies, baby, and popular art wasn’t supposed to make any sense. Or at least, it was only meant to make sense when you were on some sort of drug.
We’d argue, though, that the art has survived the decades in style; we loved walking around this park, and puzzling over pieces like Remigio Mendiburu’s “Dado para 13” or Gustavo Torner’s homage to Borges, entitled “Laberinto”.
Even without the sculptures, the park would be worth a detour, especially on a sunny afternoon. The people of the city seem to love it; in general, Santa Cruz feels like a thriving, lively town, and its boisterous energy is nowhere more apparent than in the Parque García Sanabria. Take a stroll, check out some art, then grab a drink in one of the many cafes which line the perimeter, and bask in the happy atmosphere of the city at its most relaxed.