Although La Laguna suffers from the urban sprawl and traffic problems of so many other large, modern cities, it has also been careful to preserve its ancient heart. This is the most historic and culturally significant of any city on Tenerife, and its casco antiguo, or old town, is replete in majestic palaces, churches and charming cobblestone streets.
There’s a reason that La Laguna was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Founded in the late 1400s, this was Spain’s first unfortified, planned city, and was used as a model for the country’s nascent settlements in the New World. An urban grid pattern might be familiar nowadays, but this is where the idea was first taken on a test run.
La Laguna has never been devastated by natural disaster or war, and still preserves over 350 buildings built between the 16th and 18th centuries. As such, a walk down its streets allows you to take a glimpse into the past. Starting at the Plaza del Adelatado, on the easternmost side, and then strolling up Calle Herradores to the Cathedral, and then back along Calle Obsipo Rey Redondo, you’re confronted with one incredible building after another.
There’s the Ayuntamiento, built in 1511, with its stunning neoclassic facade added in 1822. The Casa del Corregidor (Residence of the Chief Magistrate), dating from 1540, notable for its original entrance gate made of red volcanic stone, which has been used as a jail. The Casa del Alhóndiga (Grain Exchange), built in 1705, formerly a school, a hospital, a courtroom, and a barracks. The Casa de los Capitanes, also from the early 1700s, a military residence which features a beautiful “Canarian balcony”.
And we haven’t even left the first block yet! La Laguna’s historic abundance is almost overwhelming — just about every building has a name, a story, and a unique architectural detail which grabs your attention. The best thing to do, is head inside of the Casa de los Capitanes, which today contains a tourist information desk, and load yourself up with a map and information. Then sit down for a coffee, and make a plan to try and at least walk by the forty-plus buildings listed on the map as worth checking out — from private residences to churches, theaters to palaces.
It’s far more than we can detail here, but we can share some pictures. Please enjoy our photographic tour through La Laguna — surely one of the most well-preserved treasures of Spain.