Much of the area in Tenerife has expanded and grown to cater to the tourist crowd of Europe and the world. However, there is one gem tucked away that has maintained the charm and beauty of the old world. The historic city of La Laguna is the home of mansions, bars, eccentric small shops, and serves as a model for many of the colonial towns in North America. In 1999 the town was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
It is considered the center of cultural life in this area because it is home to San Fernando University and the Bishop's Place. These landmarks, plus the stunning architecture, palaces and mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries make this an ideal town for wandering and strolling.
La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain
To get your trip started, you might want to visit the Museo de la Historia de Tenerife to get a little base knowledge of the area. Documents, maps and exhibits are all housed in a gorgeous 16th century mansion with the most impressive patio. Work your way all the way through the museum and be rewarded with a glimpse of the 18th and 19th century carriages in the back of the museum.
You may notice a few religious sites including convents in La Laguna. The most beautiful and interesting convent is Convento de Santa Clara. Known for it's stunning lattice-work on this balcony, this convent-turned-museum contains nine rooms of art and artifacts from the convent's long history. Watch the presentation about the convent's founding in 1847 by Franciscan nuns, and then make your way to the biggest draw of the museum the 18th century silver altar.
If you're an architecture nerd, you might enjoy taking a tour of the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion. Built in 1502, this church is one of the oldest churches on the island. Standing the test of time, this building has seen a lot of changes. Sot the gothic influences, alongside the wooden, Islamic-influenced Mudejar ceilings. If you want a picturesque view of the city, climb up the five story tower to see all of La Laguna and beyond.
While you're on the spiritual architectural journey, make a pit stop at the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de los Remedios. Completely rebuilt in 1913, this church contains a gorgeous 16th century baroque retable dedicated to the Virgin de los Remedios. You can also stroll along and see stunning pieces of art from La Laguna's premier 18th century artist Cristobel Hernandez de Quintana. Be sure to seek out the Carrara marble pulpit carved by sculptor Pasquale Bicciardo in 1762.
For something a little different than what you normally see at these Spanish churches, visit the Iglesia y ex-convento de San Agustin. The church itself is in ruins and not accessible to the public, but you can peek through a gap in the wall to see cactuses and many other plants growing through the building. The cloisters, however, are open to wnader. Here you'll see tropical plants and flower some say they're the prettiest in town. Pop your head into the rooms surrounding the cloisters to see local artwork.
Other notable churches worth visiting include the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion and the Igelsia de Santo Cristo.
Now if churches are less your thing, but science is right up your alley, take the day to visit the Museo de la Cienca y el Cosmos. This museum is perfect for someone who loves to contemplate nature and cosmos. It serves as the perfect place to introduce key scientific concepts. Just outside the Plaza Adelantado, this fun and engaging science center also has a planetarium for the stargazer with an early bedtime.
Food and Dining
La Laguna is used to tourists, so there are plenty of options for food in this town. Find a spot to enjoy a tapas dinner full of traditional Canarian food. There are also a variety of cake shops in town to soothe any sweet tooth.
La Laguna is a pretty easy town to walk around. There is a tram running from downtown Santa Cruz right into La Laguna, if you're just coming in for the day. Taxis are available, too.