The Virgin of Candelaria

We weren’t expecting much from Candelaria, whose main claim to fame is a large Basilica. But we really enjoyed the day we spent here, learning about the Guanche kings, checking out an ancient cave chapel, and visiting the Basilica… and that was just within the first couple hours.

The basilica of Candelaria
The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria

The Miracle of Candelaria’s Virgin

Candelaria is named for the virgin which supposedly washed up on its shores before the arrival of the Spanish. (Get ready for some skepticism, cause I simply don’t buy this story.) Supposedly, the heathen Guanches of the time discovered this holy statue on the beach and, in their attempts to harm it, harmed themselves instead. “Wow, it’s a miracle”, and in recognition of its glory, they installed it in a cave, and worshipped it as though they were Catholics, even though catholicism had yet to arrive to the Canary Islands.

Candelaria Virgin
The Virgin of Candelaria

We parked at the port, and visited the tourist information office, then walked toward the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. Along the way, we encountered a row of the Guanche kings, or menceys. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, Tenerife had been split into nine kingdoms, or menceyatos, each with their own ruler… and Candelaria has honored them with nine noble statues along the shore, in front of the Basilica.

Statues of The Guanche Kinks aka menceys.
The Guanche Kings aka Menceys

Holy Caves along the Shore

Before checking out the Basilica, we walked past it toward the Caves of Achbinico and Los Camellos, both bordering the sea. The latter was used to shelter the guanches’ camels during stormy periods, while the former was the home of the aforementioned holy virgin. There’s a small chapel there, now, with a replica of the virgin… because of the heavy emigration from the Canary Islands to the New World, also enjoys a huge following in Latin America, acting as patron saint of cities like La Paz and Medellín. This cave is considered the earliest Christian “church” in the Canaries, and was the baptism site for loads of guanches.

The Basilica itself is, of course, impressive, and way too big for a town of this size. It’s not the most historic of churches, having only been consecrated in 1959, but it was built atop other, older structures. 5000 worshippers can fit into its pews, and as a site of pilgrimage, the Basilica receives over two million annual visitors.

After getting our fill of religion, we walked into the old part of Candelaria, and were finally won over by the town’s charms. Find out more in our next post!

  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 04 DSC05729
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 05 DSC05732
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 06 DSC05734
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 07 DSC05735
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 08 DSC05737
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 09 DSC05738
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 10 DSC05739
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 11 DSC05740
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 12 DSC05745
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 13 DSC05749
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 14 DSC05752
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 15 DSC05755
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 16 DSC05756
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 17 DSC05765
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 18 DSC05768
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 19 DSC05771
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 20 DSC05772
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 21 DSC05774
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 22 DSC05775
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 23 DSC05777
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 24 DSC05782
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 25 DSC05785
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 26 DSC05790
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 27 DSC05797
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 28 DSC05849
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 29 DSC05881
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 30 DSC05882
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 31 DSC05884
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 32 DSC05885
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 33 DSC05887
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 34 DSC05890
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 35 DSC05892
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 36 DSC05894
  • Candelaria Tenerife Basilica Guanches 37 DSC05917

This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply