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Tenerife North's La Orotava combines the Canary Islands past and present

Updated on September 11, 2015

The historic mountain town of La Orotava

La Orotava is a town and municipality in the north of Tenerife that is very popular with tourists and local people, who delight in wandering its streets and seeing some of the finest examples of Canarian architecture on the island.

La Orotava is most famous for the Casa de los Balcones (House of the Balconies) but this is only one of many historic buildings in a town where the past and the present of the Canary Islands combine so well.

La Orotava is situated some 5 km from the popular coastal resort of Puerto de la Cruz. It is also about 33 km from Tenerife's capital city, Santa Cruz.

The magnificent La Orotava Valley surrounds the town, whilst mountains and forests act as a backdrop, and Mt Teide looks down over its roofs, streets and gardens.

If you are wondering what to see in La Orotava there is certainly plenty of choice! Many of the historic buildings in La Orotava have ornate balconies and other interesting features in their architecture. La Orotava's churches, convents, mansions and museums provide plenty to see and ponder on for visitors to the town.

La Orotava photos

Church in La Orotava
Church in La Orotava
Masonic gardens in La Orotava
Masonic gardens in La Orotava
View of the square in La Orotava
View of the square in La Orotava
House of Balconies
House of Balconies

Churches and other places of interest of La Orotava

The Iglesia de La Concepción (Church of the Conception) is the most famous of the churches that can be seen in La Orotava. It was built between 1768 and 1788, and the building is widely considered to be the best example of baroque architecture to be found in all of the Canary Islands.

The Church of San Agustín, which dates back to the 17th century, is another church of interest to visitors to La Orotava.

La Orotava has many narrow cobblestoned streets and walls covered in creepers. There is nowhere else quite like it and it is easy to feel the presence of the past as you wander around it.

The mansion known as the Liceo Taoro was also built in the 17th century, and is open to the general public. The Liceo Taoro is very close to the masonic gardens which are built around the Mausoleum of the Marqués (Marquis) de la Quinta Roja, Diego de Ponte y Castillo.

These very ornamental gardens have seven different levels and they look out over the rest of the La Orotava Valley and onward down to the sea.

The Hermitage of El Calvario, with its images of the patron saints of La Orotava is worth visiting, as are the Torrehermosa House, and the Lercaro House, which is now often called the Casa del Turista (Tourist House). The island isn't always sunny and many visitors may well wonder what to do when it rains in Tenerife. Exploring historic buildings and museums is one answer!

Every June at the time of Corpus Christi, an amazing tapestry of coloured volcanic sand is very painstakingly created across the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Square of the City Hall). It is worth coming to La Orotava at this time just to marvel at this incredible work of artistry and religious devotion by the local people.

There is a very ornamental fountain on the road from Puerto de la Cruz into La Orotava. It incorporates a statue of the Guanche Princesa Dacil as the focal point.

Around the streets and on walls by the bus station there are several murals depicting the Guanches and their culture. It is another example of how the past intrudes into the present in La Orotava, and it adds to the magic and charm of the place.

La Orotava also has a large range of shops, bars and restaurants and a bus station that connects it with its neighbour, Puerto de la Cruz, as well as providing services that travel to the Los Rodeos Airport in the north, the university city of La Laguna, and Santa Cruz. Other buses go to Icod de los Vinos and many other destinations in the north of the island. If you are wondering how to get to La Orotava, the bus is definitely a good way of doing so.

La Orotava should be on the list of places you really need to see if you are visiting the island of Tenerife. It is a place that will stay in your memories.

© 2010 Steve Andrews

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