Full excursion around Santa Cruz de La Palma

Full excursion around Santa Cruz de La Palma

An historic city

Santa Cruz de la Palma is a city with important architectural and artistic heritage. Located to the east of the island, it was one of the main ports in the Canaries, where merchants came to trade from all over the world: Holland, Italy, England, Ireland... This means that it has an interesting collection of works of art that have come from different parts of the world (including America). We also recommend that you enjoy the colonial architecture, the craftwork and the gastronomy.

 

Shopping in the city

Once we reach Calle O'Daly, we'll find countless shops selling craftwork from the island. As soon as we enter this street, coming from the port, we come across some of them. Here you can buy produce from La Palma cuisine, including its cakes and pastries. La Palma is the sweetest island on the archipelago (rapaduras, almendrados, etc.). You can also buy souvenirs of the island in Santa Cruz without leaving this street.

 

The Renaissance square

Once in Calle O'Daly (also known as Calle Real), it doesn't take long to get to Plaza de España. This area contains the best example of Renaissance architecture in the Canaries: the town hall façade (from the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V), the Renaissance fountain (the only one on the archipelago) and the entrance to the Church of El Salvador. We will also see the statue to Manuel Díaz (local character) and some of the main stately homes in the city.

 

Church of El Salvador

It has an interesting collection of works of art (Mon–Fri 10 a.m.–8.30 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and 6 p.m.–8.30 p.m.; Sun 8.30 a.m.–1 p.m. and 7 p.m.–8.30 p.m.). There are important Flemish carvings (Saint Louis, King of France, etc.) and works by the Canarian painter of religious images Fernando Estévez (Cristo del Perdón, etc.). Also of interest are the main altarpiece (Antonio María Esquivel), the Carrara marble font (the oldest of this kind in the Canaries) and the in Mudejar style ceiling – the most beautiful on the archipelago.

 

Tour of the Cosmological Society

If we go up the steps beside the Church of El Salvador, we will come out opposite the Royal Cosmological Society. It is an ancient cultural institution that is key to discovering the history of La Palma. We will find a glyptic collection (coats of arms) from old estates and the gates to the city, now disappeared. There is also one of the most complete libraries and newspaper archives in the Canary Islands.

 

Plaza de Santo Domingo

Leaving the Cosmological Society, we continue on up the hill, taking the first street on the left and going on until we come to a square. This is the old Dominican Convent of San Miguel de las Victorias. The old convent is currently being used as a secondary school. It's difficult to get into the church but it's worth it if you can (Mon–Sun 5 p.m.): Inside there are Flemish works and the most complete collection of Baroque altarpieces in the Canary Islands.

 

Museum of Contemporary Art

Just below the Plaza de Santo Domingo, in Calle Virgen de la Luz, we find the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Bajada de la Virgen de las Nieves —Descent of the Virgin of the Snows— Visitor Centre (Mon–Fri 10 a.m.–5 p.m.;Sat 10 a.m.–1 p.m.). We will find works of art by the main Canarian artists, besides rooms dedicated to the lustral festivities in honour of the island's patron saint, Our Lady of the Snows. Both museums are located in a 17th-century house that has been fully refurbished.

 

Shrine to San Telmo

Coming out of the museum to the left, we go up this street to the Church of San Telmo. From here, we will have a privileged view of both the port and part of the city. We can also visit the little shrine to San Telmo. It was built by the city's fishermen and it is also dedicated to Our Lady of Light. The shrine is in Palma style (brought by the Portuguese) with a door, balcony and belfry (containing the bells).

 

Plaza del Dornajo

One of the most popular districts in Santa Cruz de La Palma is San Sebastián or La Canela. To get there, we will go back to the Plaza de Santo Domingo and from there to the road we came along. But, instead of turning right and going down the hill, we will go left. We will go up to the Plaza del Dornajo – a little square paved in stone. Along the way, we will see some historical houses – one of the best examples of the city's popular architecture.

 

Market Walk

We will go back down as far as the Plaza de España and from here to the "Recova" or Santa Cruz market on Avenida del Puente. It is another good place for doing shopping or trying local produce. The building, in classical style, was built between the 19th and 20th century. Although it is not very large, we will find products here from all over the island, including Designation of Origin products. There are also cafés and seating outside the building.

 

Relaxation + coffee

We return to Calle Real. In spite of Calle O'Daly and Calle Pérez de Brito (the city's main streets) being very busy, they have a large number of cafés with terraces where we can sit down. There are a variety of cafés for visitors to choose from all along both streets. Besides coffee, if you would like to try something from the island, we recommend ordering a local island artisan beer, cheese roasted with mojo sauce, pork cracklings, etc.

 

Tour of San Francisco

Making the most of the route, besides seeing the square, we recommend you visit the island museum with an interesting collection of art and taxidermy (Mon–Sat 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m.–2 p.m.). We recommend visiting the church if possible (6 p.m.–8.30 p.m. every day). We will find an excellent collection of Flemish art (Saint Anne with the Virgin and Child, Immaculate Conception, etc.), Mexican art (Christ on the Cold Stone), Andalusian art (the spectacular Christ Falling by Benito de Hita y Castillo) and much more.

 

La Alameda and the boat

Once we've "recharged", we should continue on to Plaza de la Alameda (5 minutes). We will continue to feel history accompanying us in this pretty square: The Cruz del Tercero (the city's foundational cross), an eclectic kiosk, the statue of the dwarf and the Virgin's boat. This is a boat made of cement but it looks like it's made of wood. We recommend visiting the naval museum inside it, which tells us about the city's seafaring past (Mon–Fri 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sat–Sun 10 a.m.–2 p.m.).

 

Castillo de la Virgen

If we look towards the outcrop from "The Virgin's Boat", we'll see a castle up above. This building is not a real castle but is used for a dramatic representation known as the "Dialogue between the castle and the boat" during the lustral festivities. If we enter it, besides views of the sea and the city, we will see the little cannons (used for the play) and other larger canons, which are original ones.

 

Our Lady of the Snows

The patron saint of La Palma is at the top of the city. Although it may look a long way away, it is no more than a 35-minute walk. Leaving the Castillo de la Virgen, we go up Cuesta de la Encarnación until we come to a road on our left, which we should take. When we reach the little roundabout, we will go straight on to the end of the road. Then we will turn left until we come to the church. There we can visit the Virgin and a museum.

 

Getting Your Strength Back

After going to and coming back from the Church of Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves, you had better recharge. On both Calle Real (Anselmo Pérez de Brito and O'Daly) and Avenida Marítima, there are lots of restaurants y cafés where you can enjoy the city a little more. To return to the boat, we recommend that you walk along Avenida Marítima, which will allow you to enjoy another part of the city.

 

Avenida Marítima

Santa Cruz de La Palma is a coastal city. Besides making out the sea from Avenida Marítima, we will also see historic buildings of great importance, featuring the Castillo de Santa Catalina (the main one on the island and the only castle in the style of the Habsburgs left in the Canaries) and La Palma's extremely famous seafront balconies. If we go on this way, we will come back to the port, ending our pleasant walk around the city.