Natural and cultural wealth
Located in the north and center of the island of Tenerife, the Villa de La Orotava is an idyllic place that stands out for its historic center declared Historical Artistic Set and the natural spaces of the Teide National Park.
La Orotava offers the visitor a great diversity of tourist activities: culture and leisure, art and museums, nature and hiking, spectacular beaches, astrotourism, the route of the viewpoints, as well as the cultural richness of its festivals and traditions.
Download tourist map of the Villa de La Orotava
County: Valle de la Orotava
Autonomus community: Canarias
Surface area: 207,31 km²
Population: 41.500 inhabitants.
Population density: 198,63 inhabitants/ km²
Location: 28° 22′ 00″ N – 16° 31′ 00″ O
Altitud: 360 msnm
Distance: 35 km. from Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Calle Calvario, 4 - 38300 La Orotava. Santa Cruz de Tenerife
922 323 041
Municipal Palace – Town Hall
It is a neoclassical building whose origin dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, when the old Clarisse convent of San Jose, was affected by the Mendizabal law and had to be demolished. Today, the present structure is shared by the architects Maffiotte and Manuel de Oraá, who proposed it as a horizontal volume of clear neoclassical lines, in an attempt to pay the greatest attention to the central body in which a small loggia is built and it is finished with a triangular pediment. In 2001, a complete remodelling of the building was begun, finishing the works in early 2005. The main transformation affected the replacement of the articulation of the backyards, of a clear traditional style, by two open spaces of classic lines that face the old Carretera del piche (tar road), currently called Linares Rivas, now converted into a pedestrian promenade with benches, fountains and planters.
The façade is distinguished by the central wall, from the open portico to the triangular pediment that crowns it, with Mariano Estanga’s decoration on the tympanum. The rest of the frontispiece is articulated by lintelled spans, framed by stone mouldings, arranged in a regular pattern and decorated with elements borrowed from the neoclassical repertoire. One of the greatest interest is the interior layout of the building, whose structure is B / A / B, that is to say, a pair of galleries that start from the central body and run along each patio, whose remodelling has transformed them from a Mudejar style into a Classicist one.
Concepción Church – Sacred Art Museum
The mother church is linked to the foundation of the town, since its beginning as a building of small dimensions has its origin at the end of the 15th century. This first church was followed by a second one, whose construction begun in 1546 thanks to the support of the Franchi family and it was in service until 1704 and 1705, when the Güímar earthquakes deteriorated it to the point of being declared in a state of ruin In 1758. So the current temple is the third building started, following the instructions of Patricio Garcia, in 1768, but which includes interesting peculiarities, such as those introduced by the Madrid architect Ventura Rodríguez, in its barrel vaults. The temple was inaugurated in 1788 and profoundly refurbished between 1998 and 1999. It has been a National Monument since 1948. The facade reveals with its movement the interior division of a three nave temple, but it also presents one of the most interesting Baroque porticos of the Canary Islands, either by its ornaments or by the crest of its profile. The clock and the bell towers follow the same curved line. It is also noticeable an elegant dome on a tambour, which corresponds to the temple transept. In the interior we can find the Museum of Sacred Art of La Concepción (the Conception) with 7 exhibition rooms that will make you feel part of our history and traditions.
Casa de los Balcones
The beginning of San Francisco Street constitutes an architectonic environment of great interest, where you can find traditional style buildings of great value such as Casa Méndez Fonseca, known as ‘Casa de los Balcones’ (The house of the balconies), a local handicraft centre, The Casa Ximénez Franchi, home to the ‘Alfombras de La Orotava’ (Orotava sand tapestries) Ephemeral Art Centre, both characterized by the long balcony that crowns the upper floor of their facades, and opposite them you can see the Casa Molina, called “Casa del Turista” (Tourists’ house) characterized by Its portico of late-Renaissance design that interrupts the horizontal tendency of its facade.
San Juan Bautista Church
The San Juan Church is the largest single nave temple (Latin cross with two lateral chapels) of all the Canarian architecture. This temple is built on a cruciform plant that has its origin in a hermitage dated in 1608. The Blessed Sacrament was placed here in 1681 and the works of transformation of the small sanctuary into the present temple began in 1728. Its interior, covered by mudejar coffered ceilings, and the three nave space division, is in the fashion of the Tenerife island baroque style. The exterior is adorned with one of the most suggestive pinewood balconies of the Canary island’s, placed above a baroque door. Among the altarpieces, the San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist) stands out most, and dates from the sixteenth century. Various sculptures of great merit are guarded in this temple, among which we will highlight the Cristo atado a la Columna (Christ tied to the Column), the most beautiful Andalusian Baroque sculpture in the Canaries, created by the great religious image maker Pedro Roldán, and the Virgen de la Gloria (Virgin of Glory) by José Luján Pérez. Among the pieces of precious metalwork we can find the urn of the Santo Entierro (Holy Burial), made of embossed silver, and two beautiful monstrances made of gilded silver and precious stones, one of them in rococo style.
This little urban palace was erected in 1928 at the behest of the Ascanio Monteverde couple, followingeclecticist guidelines found in a Belgian cultural magazine of the time. It stands out for the monumentality of its volumes, as well as for its privileged location, on top of an urban platform from which the lower area of the Historic Centre can be contemplated. Since 1975, it has been the home of the prestigious Sociedad Cultural Liceo de Taoro (Taoro Lyceum Cultural Society), a benchmark space for the holding of art exhibitions, concerts and conferences. The Liceo de Taoro has sports facilities such as paddle and tennis courts, as well as a swimming pool.
Santo Domingo Church / Spanish-American Craft Museum (MAIT)
This is an emblematic convent set consisting of a temple and an attached former convent. The first one, characterized by its ornamental sobriety, stands out for the spatial distribution around a basilical-shaped floor, to which numerous chapels open up. The outstanding and interesting roofs that this temple boasts have a variety of shapes and dimensions, which are a revealing testimony to the work of the Mudejar coffered ceiling tradition. Amongst the sculptural and pictorial works of this church, we will highlight the well-known oil on canvas of the Virgen de la Consolación (Virgin of Consolation) of Flemish origin in the late 16th century, painted by Jan Mandijin and Pieter Arresten from the workshop called ‘the master of the prodigal son’ (Antwerp).
The old Dominican monastery, restored at the beginning of the 1990s, with its monumental cloister, houses the headquarters of the Spanish-American Craft Museum, a great permanent exhibition, representative of all Spanish-American handicrafts, both current and disappeared , coming from important collections donated by sponsoring agencies, in addition to those acquired by the centre itself, as well as from private donations, boasting such attractive samples as the important collection ‘Folk Art in America and the Philippines’, ‘The Design of Canarian Crafts Regional Awards’, folk musical instruments from Spain and America or Spanish folk pottery.
Torre Hermosa House
This property of traditional style and noble bearing, until 1902, was part of an architectural complex together with the adjoining building, the Mesa house, forming one of the oldest structures in the town. Completey restored during the 1990s, it now houses the headquarters of the Insular Craft Company, where exclusive products of Tenerife artisans in their different disciplines are displayed and sold: unique handmade jewellery of the XXI century with traditional Canarian motifs, ceramics, basketwork, authentic Canarian openwork, handmade musical instruments, …
This emblematic temple, located at the entrance of the town centre, was built in 1917 following the project of the Architect Mariano Estanga, who designed a neo gothic building imbued with the historicist tendency of the architecture of the time; it stands out due to its pointed arches and its vertical tendency. It presides, from a high position, the Paz (Peace) square, so called in honour to the conclusion of World War I. In this hermitage we can find the Holy Patrons of La Orotava, San Isidro Labrador (Saint Isidore labourer) and Santa Maria de La Cabeza (Saint Mary of The Head) and it is a meeting point of the traditional ‘Romería’ (Pilgrimage). In this location we can see the sculptural group of the nineteenth century created by the sculptor Fernando Estévez, from La Orotava, called La Piedad (The Piety), popularly known as the ‘Cristo del Calvario’ (Christ of Calvary).
After the application of the seizure laws, the former orchard of the disappeared Clarissan convent of San José, remained an urban plot without any function, until the end of the nineteenth century when it was decided to convert it into a nursery of plant species that, once acclimated to the conditions of the island, would be used to increase the collection of the Botanical Garden of La Orotava, located in La Paz plains. Delimited by an interesting cast iron gate, it stands out for the sinuous layout of its walks and flower beds where exotic specimens are characterized by their rarity, their flowering or their size. This is a place to enjoy in the Historic Centre of La Orotava, where, with the greatest respect in your visit, you will become an ‘Ambassador of Sustainability and Environmental Education’. FREE ENTRANCE.
NATURE AND HIKING
Villa de La Orotava with an extension of 218.9 square Kilometres, of which 100 square Kilometres comprise the population centre and the rest consist of green areas and a National Park, offers its visitors an authentic paradise for the enjoyment of hiking. Its altitude ranges from sea level to 3,717 m. (town centre at 353 m.) which makes of it the municipality with the greatest slope of all Spain. Nestled in the centre of the island of Tenerife and in the very heart of the famous Orotava Valley, it is a permanent call to contemplation. Its original geography offers the traveller the wonderful sight of one of the most beautiful corners of the Earth.
Teide National Park
It is the best sample of high mountain volcanic ecosystem of all the Canaries. It also includes hydro-petric and underground endangered habitats, among other, which, due to their geographical situation and altitude are seasonally affected, with different intensity, by periods of snowfall that contribute to maintain essential ecological processes such as the recharge of aquifers. Its unique endemism-rich flora includes a dozen endangered species, and invertebrates have exclusive forms of which only a few specimens are known. From a geomorphological perspective, the whole structure of the caldera and the great Teide Pico Viejo stratovolcano are of international relevance, but there is also a great variety of elements in the form of pitons, caves and domes, which increase the scientific interest and the spectacular character of this area. The landscape of the park is the most shocking one on the island and constitutes a powerful attraction for the millions of tourists who visit it annually.
Pinolere Integral Natural Reserve
It comprises a slope with interesting communities of rock flora, where there also are endangered and protected species such as tajinaste (Echium giganteum) and peppermint (Bystropogon plumosus). It is also a natural and well preserved characteristic habitat of the Canaries. On the less inclined slopes, where the arboreal vegetation is set, the area contributes to maintaining ecological processes through the protection of soils and the recharge of the aquifer.
Corona Forestal (Crown-shaped forest) Natural Park
It is a forest area that surrounds the Mount Teide national park, where the best samples of pine forest and high mountain vegetation of Tenerife are to be found. In this area we can see the headwaters of a good part of the ravines that form the drainage network of the north and south of Tenerife, reason why it exerts an outstanding role in water harvesting and the protection of floors from erosion.
Teide Natural Monument
It is an emblematic element of great scientific interest. Noteworthy are its particular geomorphological characteristics that define a landscape of great beauty, making of it a reference landmark of the territory it occupies. It also counts with a representative sample of wind habitats, with exclusive species such as Teide violet.
La Resbala Protected Landscape
The southern half of the protected area is a natural landscape, more or less preserved with endemic species of rock of great value and covered with pines, while the northern half is a transformed landscape with a rural character. The presence of interesting rock flora communities, with endangered and protected species, raises the scientific and conservation interest of the area.
Acentejo Coast Protected Landscape
this space contains an exceptional beauty derived from a cliff and an abrupt landscape of high aesthetic value; it constitutes a unique geomorphological element, representative of the north coast of the islands. It also has an outstanding scientific interest due to the presence of endangered and protected species of both fauna and flora. In some sectors it becomes a place of special importance due to the presence or nesting of some species.
The area called ‘El Rincón’ (The Corner) is located in the northeaster end of La Orotava municipal area and it is a natural site that has not yet been transformed, retaining its agricultural character and comprising an area of 203 hectares.
Progress continues in the process of protection and promotion of this place located in the coastal area of the municipality, authentic lung of the Orotava Valley whose protection has been encouraged since 1999 through a Special Plan given the particularity of the area. Special efforts have been made to promote its agricultural development and ecotourism.
Here you will find the three natural black sand beaches of La Orotava, of extraordinary beauty, which are the perfect refuge for those who want to enjoy both nature and tranquillity: El Bollullo beach, Los Patos and El Ancón. This is a wild place that highlights the beauty and capricious nature of a volcanic island.
Los Patos (Ducks) Beach
This is an Eden-Beach with jet-black sand and crystalline waters, also known as Martínez Alonso. It is a virgin beach, without breakwaters, where the sand is washed away by the tides, it counts with a sand bottom wave, perfect for bodyboarding and surfing. This is an authentic paradise to enjoy the solitude, the silence, the majestic cliff, the views and an exceptional natural environment.
Composition: Black volcanic sand
Lenght: 900 meters.
Width: 45 meters.
Without Services. Isolated.
Coordinates: 28º 25′ 13,601″ N 16º 30′ 37,356″ W
Occupancy rate: medium, nudist area.
Bus: Sí (interurban) Line 376.
Accesses in reconstruction.
El Ancón Beach
It is a Wonderful isolated volcanic sand beach. If you also like hiking, it will make you feel integrated in an impressive landscape where the green of banana trees and spurges and thistles predominate. It is separated from Los Patos beach only by a rock protrusion that enters the sea, denominated ‘Punta del Ancón’. This is a corner that invites you to feel at peace, in a serene calm and to discover nature in its broad splendour. Maximum precautions should be taken with regard to the sea, although it may seem calm, strong currents prevail in the area.
Composition: Black volcanic sand
Lenght: 200 meters.
Width: 20 meters.
Services: lifeguard (summer months)
Coordinates: 28º 25′ 28,813″ N 16º 30′ 11,070″ W
Occupancy rate: low – medium.
Isolated, strong waves.
El Bollullo Beach
Discovering ‘El Bollullo’ means enjoying a beach with a natural charm that will seduce you from the very beginning. It is situated below the edge of a cliff, and it has a black sand surface that mixes with the volcanic rock formations that enter deep into the sea. It is an ideal beach to disconnect from the noise of the city and get close to nature. If you like waves, you will enjoy it immensely, as the waves are usually quite strong throughout the year. For that very reason you should exercise extreme caution when taking a bath.
Composition: Black volcanic sand
Lenght: 200 meters.
Width: 40 meters.
Services: Bar- restaurant, toilets, sun beds, locker rooms, lifeguard.
Coordinates 28º 25′ 4,567″ N 16º 31′ 9,891″ W
Occupancy rate: medium.
Parking: Yes (less than 50 places).
Bus: Yes (interurban) Line 376.
CULTURES AND LEISURE
The Villa de La Orotava municipality, also known as the cultural capital of northern Tenerife, both because of the number of events held in its territory, and because of their quality, continually rages throughout the year with acts for all tastes and ages. There is no time to be bored here and you can enjoy different activities that go from concerts of the most varied themes, to film festivals, exhibitions, gastronomic tastings, historical theatrical recreations, routes, fairs and a myriad of activities that will make you feel that you lack time to enjoy all of them.
Culture has become paramount as a key factor in the socio-cultural and economic development of the municipality. We have tried to bring it closer to all strata of visitors and citizens, making of La Orotava an attractive, active and involved municipality, with great initiative on the part of associations, societies or foundations to promote the use and enjoyment of the cultural spaces network.
To be up-to-date with the municipal cultural program you have our Event Calendar at your disposal.
Facebook: Cultura Orotava.
La Orotava Tapestries Ephemeral Art Centre
All the peoples of the world have a sign that characterizes and defines them: In Villa de the Orotava we have our Ephemeral Tapestries. Located in the emblematic ‘Casa de los Balcones’ (House of the Balconies) (Jiménez Franchy, 1642), the Tapestry Museum exhibits, for the visitors that come to La Orotava, the ephemeral art that the tapestry artists dedicate to the Corpus Christi. In the month of May, the streets of La Orotava are filled with the smell of roasted heather, flowers, Mount Teide sands and tradition. But the rest of the year these are the sensations that flood the rooms of the museum, in which this ephemeral art is permanently displayed. More than 160 years of history are accommodated in a museum that is constantly evolving. In it you can find sketches of the first tapestries, historical documents, molds and design tools that give shape to a unique history of a tradition known worldwide.
Hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Address: Number 5 San Francisco Street, La Orotava.
Price: €2 visitors, Tenerife residents for free.
‘Telesforo Bravo’ Mount Teide National Park Interpretation Centre
The ‘Telesforo Bravo’ Mount Teide National Park Visitor Centre is located in La Orotava El Mayorazgo urbanization (exit 34 of TF-5 motorway), where we can discover the biological, geological and ethnographic treasures of the Mount Teide National Park, following the steps of Alexander Von Humboldt, German naturalist, traveler and geographer. The National Park Administrative Centre is located in the same complex. The Centre has numerous information boards, screens, locutions, a real size reproduction of a volcanic tube, models, showcases and interactive elements. It also counts with an auditorium, where an eight minute audiovisual presentation about the National Park can be watched. It contains an exhibition in which the island of Tenerife is explored from two different perspectives: Geographically (from coast level to the summit) and historically (through the eyes of illustrious visitors). The whole centre has been adapted and is accessible to an audience with motor, visual or auditory deficiencies. The ramps facilitate access to the various levels and a signaling system facilitates the orientation of the visitor. It is undoubtedly a place that must be visited in order to get to know La Orotava, the island of Tenerife and the National Park.
The ‘Juan Acosta Rodríguez’ Tenerife native flora ornamental garden can be found next to the Visitor Centre. It was named after a La Orotava Town Council member, who promoted the declaration of the Mount Teide area as a National Park in 1917.
Access to the Visitor Centre is free.
Hours: from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday.
Address: Number 25 Doctor Sixto Perera González Street, 38300 La Orotava.
For more information: 9220.127.116.11
‘El Tesoro de la Concepción’ (The Conception Treasure) Sacred Art Museum
The ‘Concepción’ Parish Treasure is composed of a valuable set of utensils and objects used for divine worship. It has its origin in the purchases made by the parish with its own funds, donations and historical factors such as the exclaustration of the convents by the Minister Mendizabal laws, which most benefited this parish. Within this set we can highlight pieces of liturgical furniture, images, paintings, processional scaffolding, sacred vessels, custodies, song books, musical instruments, ornaments, etc. The pieces shown do not only serve their historical, artistic or aesthetic value, but also have symbolic, religious and anthropological values.
Until a few years ago, the ‘Concepción’ Treasure was stored as exhibition-warehouse material, in the upper rooms of the north sacristy, which once were the parish housing. At present, the Treasure occupies the main rooms of the building: the north sacristy with the anteroom and the Treasury room, the choir, the south sacristy and the chapter halls.
Considered one of the most significant collections in the Canaries, each of its pieces has religious, symbolic, anthropological, historical, artistic and aesthetic values that delight the visitor.
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
Address: Patricio García Square
Pinolere Ethnographic Museum
This museum opened in 2002 is located in a Villa de La Orotava peripheral neighborhood called Pinolere, and in its 3,000 square metre facility, different aspects of the architectural, agricultural, environmental and socio-cultural landscape characteristic of the La Orotava Valley mid-elevations are recreated. The centre has a threshing floor, different detached houses, corrals with chickens and rabbits, an orchard with medicinal plants and characteristic houses made of straw, also known as ‘pajares’, traditional constructions that served as dwelling, now transformed into exhibition rooms. A meticulous reproduction of a traditional ‘venta’ (grocery) is another one of its contents of interest.
Two are the main thematic areas found in the centre. On the one hand, dealing with Pinolere history, which became the most important chestnut wood basketry centre of the Canaries, we can find the so-called ‘Don Juan González Fariña’ Canarian Basketry Museum, which occupies three of the straw houses, where the traditional use of vegetable fibres and the materials, tools and production processes used in this craft technique are shown in a didactic way.
On the other hand, we have the ‘Don Francisco Luis Acosta’ Pinolere History Museum, which occupies two detached buildings, dedicated now to preserve and to divulge the past of this locality. The ‘Cueva de los Guanches’ (Aboriginal Inhabitants Cave) archaeological complex complements this thematic area. The extensive and prolific activity developed by the Museum and the Pinolere Association has earned them important recognition for their research and dissemination efforts. It is a must for traditional Canarian culture lovers.
Every year, at the first weekend of September, the famous Pinolere Craft Fair takes place, organized by the Pinolere Cultural Association. This fair has become one of the most successful ones in the Canaries with tens of thousands of visitors in every edition.
Hours: 10:00a.m. – 2:00 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday.
Address: Alzados Guanches street, Pinolere. La Orotava.
(Off-hours visits can be arranged through the Facebook profile or phone number)
Prices: Adults € 2, children between 8 and 15 years old € 1 and children from 0 to 8 years old free of charge.
There are a number of climatological and geographical factors that determine the excellent quality of the La Orotava sky for astronomical observations, one of the best in the world. As this is the municipality with the greatest slope of all Spain (from 0 to 3,718 metres), part or our territory is above the typical ‘sea of clouds’, which acts as a natural barrier for the light pollution of nearby populations. Tenerife is located near the terrestrial equator; therefore it counts with visibility over the whole northern celestial hemisphere and part of the south one, practically all year round.
The so-called Sky Protection Law, pioneer of its kind, regulates the illumination of exteriors, the radio-electric power, the polluting industries and the air traffic over the Canary Islands’ observatories.
La Orotava summits are a Starlight Reserve
A Starlight Reserve is a protected natural space where a compromise is established for the defense of the quality of the night sky and the different associated values, whether cultural, scientific, astronomical, scenic or natural. The requirements in a Starlight Reserve will specifically meet the characteristics, singularities and functions of each space, whether related to the preservation of astronomical observation conditions, those related to the conservation of nature, the integrity of the night landscapes or related cultural heritage sites.
The concept of Starlight Reserve is accompanied in each case by a participatory Action Plan and a set of recommendations aimed at preserving or restoring the quality of the night sky to the possible limits as it is a source of cultural, educational, scientific and environmental benefits.
The Teide National Park and La Orotava summits have received the Starlight certification, awarded by the Canary Islands’ Astrophysics Institute through the Canary Islands’ Foundation for the Dissemination of Astronomy. The Starlight initiative was created in 2009 and is sponsored by international organizations such as UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The Teide National Park thus becomes the first World Heritage Site designated as Starlight Destination that complies with the requirements and procedures established for the protection of the sky and its associated natural and cultural values.
Pino Alto Viewpoint
Ascending by the TF-21 main road in the direction of the Mount Teide National Park, at kilometer 5 we can see the deviation to the populous neighborhood of La Florida on the left. Take this detour and continue driving by the road until you reach this small viewpoint, located at 575 metres above sea level.
Benijos Square Viewpoint
Taking the detour to the neighbourhood of Benijos, we find this viewpoint located in the square of this neighbourhood at 910 metres above sea level.
Ascending by the TF-21 main road and at km 19 we find this viewpoint, located at 1,248 metres above sea level.
Vista a La Palma (La Palma View) Viewpoint.
It is located at kilometre 20 of this main road, at approximately 1,350 metres above sea level.
La Ruleta Viewpoint.
Following the main road after the Portillo crossroads and heading towards the National ‘Parador’ (government run hotel), just opposite it, we arrive at this viewpoint, located at 2,135 metres above sea level.
In the La Orotava – Santa Cruz main road, before reaching the area known as ‘La Cuesta de la Villa’ we find this viewpoint, located at 320 metres above sea level.
Cuesta de La Perdoma Viewpoint.
Located on the La Orotava – Los Realejos main road by La Perdoma (TF-324), at 425 metres above sea level.
El Bollullo Viewpoint
On the coast of Villa de La Orotava we find this viewpoint practically at sea level.
Viewpoints in the Teide National Park
In Mount Teide National Park you have the option to take a self-guided tour by a total of seven points in which you can observe the relationship existing between this World Heritage Site, stars and planets.
Through various information boards installed in the park viewpoints, which follow a route-like specific order, you can learn more about this exciting conjunction between the sky and Mount Teide. These are the information boards (in the same order as they are found from El Portillo):
TRADITIONS AND CELEBRATIONS
These celebrations, held in the district of Benijos in the highlands of La Orotava, in honour of San Isidro Labrador and Santa Maria de la Cabeza, have deservedly gained great popularity, and they gather together neighbours and people from other points of the northern region of the island. They began to be celebrated back in 1977, in the month of September and the main events are the well-known livestock fair, which has had thirty-nine editions and counts with more than 3,000 head of cattle in the fair ground: goats, horses, mules and beef cattle. You can also enjoy whistle language demonstrations from the island of La Gomera, shepherd’s pole jumping, conch shell blowing, a threshing exhibition and pony and mule riding ring threading competitions, besides a horseback riding competition, among others. All the events revolve around the religious acts, with the celebration of the popular pilgrimage in honour of the patrons, from Lomo Alto to the church square, with carts, magicians and multiple folk groups and spree bands.
In past decades, neighbourhoods such as Benijos and La Florida, and the area of the mid-elevations in general, had a very important livestock sector, especially beef cattle, because it was essential for the tillage of the fields. Hence, the municipality currently has three livestock fairs and exhibitions, in order to exalt the tillage practices, to pay homage to the countryside men and women and show the importance the primary sector has had and still has in the municipality.
La Perdoma Festivals
n the populous La Orotava neighbourhood of La Perdoma, the festivities in honour of Nuestra Señora del Rosario and San Jerónimo are held each year in the first week of October. These celebrations are characterized by the grape harvest, with acts such as the Bread and Chorizo day, a multitudinous celebration, which takes place along with the Craft Fair and the Harvest Festival as well as the election of the Queen. Children have the opportunity of pressing the grapes with their bare feet, and they enjoy it very much, since the vast majority of them are unaware of the process of artisanal winemaking. There are many visitors who enjoy this bread and chorizo, as well as other local products like kneaded gofio (roast and ground cereals, normally wheat and/or corn), bananas and fruits, lupine, etc.
Festivals in honour of San Antonio Abad and Virgen de La Esperanza in La Florida
The neighbourhood of La Florida, located in the middle of La Orotava, celebrates its festivities in honour of San Antonio Abad and Virgen de La Esperanza, in the last week of January of each year. In addition to various religious and popular events, a unique gastronomic event is held: the traditional ‘Puchero Canario’ (Canarian Stew) preparation and tasting. This is the largest, most crowded and most exquisite and tasty stew preparation of the entire Canary Archipelago.
For this celebration more than 60 large stainless steel pots are needed, with a capacity of more than 100 kilos, producing about 7,000 kilos of stew. Hundreds of kilos of vegetables (cabbages, pumpkins, onions, courgettes, leeks, carrots …) are used, together with potatoes, ‘gofio’ (roast and ground cereals), meats and firewood.
The viands are tasted by thousands of people who also enjoy, in this singular gastronomic event, the ‘Parranda del Puchero’ musical group performance. All this makes of it a consolidated tourist attraction that delights visitors.
The ‘Maninindra’ Elderly People Association, the ‘San Antonio Abad’ association and the ‘Jeito’ Youth association play a very important role in the organization of this event. They count with the collaboration of neighbours and other groups in the neighbourhood. Special public transportation services are organized to provide convenient access to the La Florida neighbourhood.
The Holy Week in Villa de La Orotava
The annual commemoration of Jesus Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection in Villa de La Orotava represents the staging of one of the main sociocultural events in the town, which has reached a significant relevance since its origins, together with the patron saints’ feasts and especially with the Corpus Christi Infra octave, when La Orotava is visited by a larger number of people. During the development of the events that constitute the La Orotava Holy week, the devotional component that underlies each act, individualized in the recollection and personal reflection of those present, acquires added value. These actions are not at odds with the contemplation of true works of art, in the form of processional floats that seize the streets during those days.
The Patron Saints Festivities in Villa de La Orotava
The first festivity held in La Orotava, still called La Aorotava, took place on 22nd June 1516. It consisted of a few public amusements in order to celebrate the accession of King Carlos I of Castille to the throne. Since then, the Holy Week and the Corpus Christi celebrations were introduced and both were implanted in the region shortly after the consummation of the conquest. They had special roots in the municipality and already in 1576 the Corpus Christi procession was consolidated in La Orotava, and besides parading the Sacred Form by the streets of the Historical Centre, altars were mounted in the frontispieces of the main mansions.
The Patron Saint’s Festivities in Villa de La Orotava are celebrated during four days, a long weekend that begins on Thursday and ends on Sunday, but not on any Thursday, since tradition has established a chronological criterion. Problems of religious nature led Bishop Vicuña to sign a Solomonic document: from 1700 onwards, the feast would be celebrated eight days before the Corpus Christi, with the procession leaving from the church ruled by the nuns of the San Nicolás convent (nowadays, the post office building).
Trying to recover the former splendour of the Corpus Christi festivities in La Orotava, Doña Leonor del Castillo, who had married Don Juan Monteverde, born in La Orotava, had the brilliant idea of making a flower tapestry in front of their house at Colegio street. The first one was made in 1847, a simple work of art that reproduced a geometric drawing of baroque style, made with flower petals covering the cobbled road. This initiative surprised the town society so much that soon found many adepts among the local aristocracy. Thus, the artistic principles of this floral manifestation were established, becoming a tradition that has made La Orotava famous around the world.
More Information: La Villa de Orotava town hall
Villa de La Orotava is the only town in the Canaries with an almost entirely intact historical centre, offering comforting walks by its streets. In the town, history meets the visitors and especially the foreign visitors who have wandered by its streets for many centuries, leaving behind some of the most beautiful pages of travel literature. In this sense, it is difficult to find a city of our archipelago that has received more enthusiastic testimonies. However, none of these narratives or the most beautiful stories of literary fiction are as fascinating as the very reality of Villa de La Orotava, a true jewel for those who love art, beauty and history.
Kingdom of Taoro
Its history begins when the kingdom of Taoro or Tahoro, the richest and most fertile area of the island and perhaps the largest of the nine zones in which Tenerife was divided, was distributed by the crown among the conquerors and their aides for their deeds on 5th November 1496, the year when the conquest was completed. It occupied the extension of the current municipalities of Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava, Los Realejos, La Victoria de Acentejo, La Matanza de Acentejo and Santa Úrsula. It was the richest and most powerful Menceyato (aboriginal political division of the land with a Mencey as the main ruler) on the island. Here the conquest of Tenerife and, therefore, also of the Canary Islands ended, when the courageous Bentor committed suicide after being defeated by the troops of Alonso Fernandez de Lugo. But the best-known and most famous Mencey was Bencomo, the most powerful and brave of the Guanche (name of the Tenerife aboriginals) Menceyes, from the valley of Arautapala in Taoro, killed in the battle of Aguere and leader of the aboriginal resistance against the invading Castilian troops. Taoro is also a name that the Orotava valley, as well as this region, receives.
The new settlers immediately acquired all the rights to receive the profits generated and began the process of occupying the place, being this fact the origin of the municipality. They proceeded to the distribution of land and water among the men who had participated in the endeavour of the conquest and subsequent colonization: hidalgos (Spanish nobles), relatives of the Adelantado (Spanish dignitary) and creditors of the war feat. The distribution was carried out on 1st January 1502, being the most outstanding one by the large number of beneficiaries. The settlers benefited from the precious gift of water and with an uneven land that allowed them to easily use it for irrigation, as a hydraulic force to move the mills and as a driving force to establish sugar mills. Sugar was a very demanded product in the international market, and this fact, among other reasons, promoted the European expansion by the Atlantic territories as a mean to obtain it. Therefore, the owners of the sloping fertile land of La Orotava valley began to exploit it economically with the cultivation of sugar cane. Those who engaged in its cultivation were rewarded with more plots of land. Even those who declared that they were going to establish a sugar mill were supplied with more than twice as much land. Three sugar mills were established, under the direction of the Portuguese coming from Madeira, brought due to their knowledge of the trade. They worked together with the labour of black people, mulattoes, Berbers, and Guanches.
Gradually, the nucleus of Villa de La Orotava was configured as an expression of varied human activities, where the social classes were spatially delimited and socially hierarchical. The nobles, who were the beneficiaries of the Adelantado’s share, occupied the apex of the social scale and resided in Villa de Abajo (Lower Village), the heart of the future city. The most proud of them, of clear aristocratic mentality, will form a closed group in the following years, known as ‘Doce Casas’ (Twelve Houses), which in 1560 constituted a Confraternity. Then we found the craftsmen, the lower classes, emigrants and peasants, who lived in ‘Villa de Arriba’ (Upper Village) or ‘Farrobo’, mostly in houses provided by the gentlemen for whom they worked. We are in the origins of the urban structure of La Orotava municipality. Lastly, above the urban space, was the area inhabited by the poor peasants who lived in stone haystacks, on clay floors and with pine-needle or straw ceilings. According to Leopoldo de la Rosa, the number of inhabitants in 1506 ranged from 80 to 100. When in 1561 the Tenerife census was made, Villa de La Orotava had a population of 526 neighbours in the main urban nucleus, with a total of 2,575 people in the whole area.
The sugar production gave way to the vine in the second half of the sixteenth century, whose cultivation was also encouraged in the distribution of land. In the 17th century, Villa de La Orotava, and the valley that bears its name, was marked almost entirely by wine production, not forgetting that Villa de La Orotava not only worshiped its wines, but also the water, that basic natural resource of great importance for its economy. Two types of wines, considered to be the best of their kind, were harvested mainly in La Orotava valley and in the north-west of Tenerife (Buenavista, San Juan de la Rambla and the Daute region): malvasía and Canary sack. They were bought by the Dutch and English merchants and exported to Europe, mostly to England, the main consumer, from the Garachico port and La Orotava port, now Puerto de la Cruz, the most important one on the island, where there was a small English settlement, together with an English consulate. In those years, this port was an open gate through which the European culture of the time entered the island.
Prosperity and prominence in the seventeenth century
It was in the 17th century when Villa de La Orotava acquired real prominence and economic prosperity as a result of wine production and trade, and underwent an extensive socio-economic transformation. As a consequence of the richness and importance that it acquired, the local elite obtained the emancipation from the city of La Laguna by Real Certificate of the King Felipe IV on 28th November 1648, not without the absence of certain tensions. It also obtained the title of exempt town, becoming the only one in the Canary Islands that had this institutional and honorific title granted by a royal order. This honourable recognition would be filled at the threshold of the twentieth century, exactly on 15th February 1905, with a new royal bestowal, the coat of arms for La Orotava, which was accompanied by the distinction of ‘Very Noble and Loyal Town’ granted by King Alfonso XIII. From then on, it would have its own ‘alcaldes mayores’ or ‘tenientes de corregidores’, political titles with functions as mayor and judge. The new administrative and legal situation provided more economic progress for the town. Population growth is a consequence of this progress. The Canary Islands bishopric’s register for the year 1675 indicates that there were 1,582 houses in Villa de La Orotava and a total of 5,782 inhabitants and there were 368 houses and 2,085 inhabitants in its port.
The dominant group of citizens favoured the construction of convents for the establishment of religious orders, of the Baroque Mother Church of Inmaculada Concepción (Immaculate Conception) and of a refined Canarian and Renaissance architecture with houses and mansions with large gardens, notable facades and stone coats of arms that marked the lineage to which their owners belonged. The Farrobo area managed to have its own church, the San Juan (Saint John) Church, although due to lack of income and resources, works took a long time and it was not finished until the 18th century. The result of this trend was the formation of a city of great visual beauty.
Villa de La Orotava begins to offer a lustrous image that has its correlate in its enchanting green valley that extends from the mountains to the shores of its Atlantic coast, watched from high above by the volcano Teide. It aroused the admiration and glowing praise of travellers, sailors and naturalists born on the island or coming from distant lands, among other reasons, because the mount served as a beacon for seafarers along the coast of Africa at the beginning of the European Atlantic expansion and later on their route to the South. Mount Teide was considered the highest mountain on Earth until the first decades of the eighteenth century and as such has had a significant meaning in Villa de La Orotava. A tradition had been born among travellers and sailors, who included the Peak of Tenerife, among those natural places and phenomena loaded with legend, symbolism and admiration, making it become the icon par excellence of the Canaries. Practically throughout the eighteenth century, much of the life of the town revolves around Mount Teide. It is a source of sulphur that is exported to the Iberian Peninsula, it supplies ice to the island’s upper classes and it is the economic resource of many peasants who acted as guides for hikers in a century marked by an economic crisis.
Indeed, the restrictions imposed by the Andalusian monopoly on trade with Spanish America, the prohibition of direct trade with the English overseas colonies decreed in England in 1663, and the advantages accorded by England itself to Portuguese wines, provoked a serious crisis, being more acute in Tenerife due to its strong dependence on vine. However, the large tracts of land, the fortunes of previous decades and the elegant European culture of its elites allowed the town to continue being a privileged economic and cultural centre. And wine, although it no longer had the importance of old times, remained the basis of the economic and cultural power of the local oligarchy.
Historical facts of the 19th century
In the nineteenth century two of the most relevant events of the contemporary history of the town took place, which would decisively transform villa de La Orotava and its surroundings. The first one occurred at the beginning of the century. In its first decades, supporters of economic liberalism who were against the privileges and immunities that hampered the increase in production and the distribution of wealth, began to carry out the process of disentailing the properties of religious orders and communal lands and definitively abolish the “mayorazgo” (an institution of the old Castilian right that allowed to maintain a set of properties linked to each other in such a way that this link could never be broken). From then on, the economic role of the nobles, although they maintained a very important social power, decreased. Properties began to be disposed of and redistributed. The Church, the municipality and the great aristocrats had to share their fortune with new landowners, the agrarian and commercial bourgeoisie, creditors and other social groups. A process of alienation of goods from private hands, which was accentuated a few years later by the economic crackdown following the collapse of the mealybug market, based on an insect that was bred in cactus to obtain colourings, and whose exploitation had replaced the vine from the thirties to the first lustrum of the eighties.
The second event occurred at the end of the century, with the introduction of banana plantations. Bananas came to substitute the ephemeral period of mealybug exploitation and soon became the true export monoculture in the Canary Island’s economy. As the best lands for their production were the ones rich in water, the owners of the Orotava valley decided to introduce this harvest. The initiative was favoured by the presence of the British companies Fyffes Limited and Yeoward Brothers. This agrarian product generated a lot of wealth for the entrepreneurs of the Orotava valley, and in particular for those of the town, who, in large numbers, wisely rented or sold the land and sometimes compromised the totality of the production to the British companies, that were in charge of exporting the fruit. The most important markets were mainland Spain, Belgium, England and Germany.
The new linkage of Villa de La Orotava with the banana plantations originated great riches among the agricultural proprietors, which allowed them to incorporate a historic eclecticism in architecture. The traditional Canarian household, the renaissance and baroque designs were followed by the modernist, eclectic and neo-gothic styles that began in the last decades of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The town acquired a certain European air.
The banana plantations also greatly favoured the landscape as they reinforced the greenery of the valley and its agrarian nature. The ‘language of the greenery that characterizes the writing of the valley’, using a literary figure, was transformed and entered a new aesthetic phase. The close link between wine production since the 17th century and banana production since the end of the 19th century, that is, the decisive forces of the rural economy, have shaped Villa de La Orotava over the centuries. Today, it is a surprise for the visitor. Entering it means going back centuries in time. The art present in its urban centre, the churches, the convents, the mansions of the aristocracy with their coats of armour and the traditional architecture with its balconies and wooden work, make of it a harmonious, perfect and beautiful place with aged air. When walking along its streets we cannot fail to perceive the fragments of its historical past. All of it extends under the watchful eye of Mount Teide, a remarkable element in the landscape, that also provides the coloured sands and ashes for the tapestry of the Town Hall square in the celebration of the Corpus Christi, one of the artistic jewels of the town.
Villa de La Orotava, with a population of 42,929 inhabitants in January 2015, continues to maintain a basic economic activity focused on agriculture and services. However, its attractive urban centre, its history and its legend make thousands of tourists come to visit it every year to enjoy one of the most attractive towns of the Canaries.
This itinerary offers visitors a global view of Villa de La Orotava, showing its exceptional geography, the impressive natural scenery in which it sits, so that they can observe the different microclimates that it offers; taking into account that its extension, 218 square kilometres, makes of it the largest municipality on the island of Tenerife and one of the largest in the Canary Islands. A trip that goes from the coast, where La Orotava has three magnificent black sand beaches, to the summit, topped by the impressive Mount Teide Peak with its 3,718 metres, whose National Park belongs in a 78 percent to La Orotava.
This is a route that runs between viewpoints, offering different and varied images and bringing us closer to the landscape, the primary economic sector (farmlands), the idiosyncrasy of a town and its people, seen from a naturalistic perspective, and also allows the observation of the high quality of our night sky with the naked eye: the stars, the constellations, the Milky Way …
Route: Humboldt Viewpoint – Pino Alto Viewpoint – Mataznos Viewpoint – Vista a La Palma Viewpoint – La Ruleta Viewpoint – Benijos Square Viewpoint – Cuesta de La Perdoma Viewpoint- El Bollullo Viewpoint.
In the La Orotava – Santa Cruz main road, before reaching the area known as La Cuesta de la Villa we find this viewpoint, located at 320 metres above sea level, whose view greatly impressed the imagination and exquisite sensitivity of the great German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who knelt at the sight of this view for the first time. It allows us a comfortable contemplation of all the La Orotava Valley, the agricultural area of El Rincón, the cliffs of the coast, the diversity of agricultural crops in the mid-elevations, the greenery of the mountains and the majestic image of Mount Teide.
Pino Alto Viewpoint
Ascending by the TF-21 main road in the direction of the Mount Teide National Park, by kilometre 5 we find the deviation to the populous neighbourhood of La Florida on the left. Take this detour and continue along the road until you reach this small viewpoint, located at 575 metres above sea level, which nevertheless offers us an impressive panoramic view and it is rarely very crowded. From the church square we also have an exceptional view.
We continue ascending by TF-21 road and at kilometre 19 we find this viewpoint, located at 1,248 metres above sea level. We enjoy a central view of the La Orotava Valley, in optimal weather conditions, although at times, you can already observe from here the phenomenon known as ‘Sea of Clouds’, which occurs between 800 and 1,300 metres as a result of the proximity of the dorsal mountain range to the sea and the winds common in the municipality, northeast trade winds, that favour the climatic benignity of the town throughout the year.
Vista a La Palma Viewpoint
It is located at kilometre 20 of this road, approximately at 1,350 metres above sea level. It receives its name because, on the horizon, to the northwest, you can see the neighbouring island of La Palma, in whose centre you can almost see the Taburiente Caldera, a giant crater with a 28 kilometre perimeter. Particularly satisfying is the observation of the forest mass before us.
Rosa de Piedra Viewpoint
At kilometer 22.5 of the TF-21 we find this viewpoint, where we can admire this curious structure that is the result of a combination of processes that began when the lava flow cooled. When the lava is solidifying its mass shrinks and cracks, so the rocks tend to fracture and this time adopted the figure of a rose, also known as the stone daisy, for resembling its petals to this flower.
La Ruleta Viewpoint
Following the road after the Portillo crossroads heading towards the National ‘Parador’, and opposite this government run hotel, we arrive at this viewpoint, perhaps the most visited one on the island. It is located at 2,135 metres above sea level. The Ucanca Plain unfolds before us, providing us with a magnificent panoramic view of this glen, the largest one in the National Park. To the right we can see ‘Roques de García’, vertical and gigantic rock formations, among which ‘Roque Cinchado’ stands out with its 27 metres. In front of us we can see the immense rock mass known as ‘La Catedral’ (The Cathedral).
Benijos Square Viewpoint
Returning by the same road, we take the TF-21 and then take the detour to the Benijos neighbourhood. In its square, at 910 metres above sea level, apart from a recreational space for children, we can enjoy a quite interesting view over the Valley and the orchards where the famous potatoes of La Orotava highlands grow. We continue descending and take the La Orotava – Los Realejos general road by La Perdoma (TF-324) in the direction of Cuesta de La Perdoma Viewpoint.
Cuesta de La Perdoma Viewpoint
Located in the longest established wine growing area of the town and at 425 metres above sea level, it allows us to enjoy an eminently agricultural panoramic view, with fruit trees, vines and vegetables, which give the area a special charm. Crossing the urban centre of the municipality and towards the area of El Rincón (TF-176) we will be on the way to the coast.
El Bollullo Viewpoint
On the Villa de La Orotava coast, we find this viewpoint from which we can see El Bollullo beach to the left, together with views of the municipality of Puerto de la Cruz, and to the right, we find Los Patos beach and also Ancón beach, both of volcanic black sand and a sea with strong currents it is advisable to take precautions with.