24 hours in La Laguna
From the moment of its establishment in 1497 the city of San Cristobal of La Laguna, first capital of the island of Tenerife and then of the whole archipelago, became one of the main characters of the history of the Canary Islands.
Popularly known as La Laguna or Aguere (A-Garaw: great water source) in the native toponymy, it is found stuck between the Anaga Massif and the mountain of La Esperanza, just where both river basins meet about 545 meters above sea level. Named Cultural Asset World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1999 for being the first example of unfortified colonial city before the new American foundations. Originally, the project was defined by the concept of “ideal city” by Plato and the new Renaissance Humanism following the geometric pattern of a wind rose.
The Trade Winds brought into these islands adventurers and explorers for centuries, Phoenicians and Romans, Genoese and Portuguese, Castilian and Dutchmen; Jews from the Diaspora, English corsairs and settlers on their way to the new world. Writing, all of them, a page on the history of these lands, modeling that way, perhaps, the people’s open nature.
The city of La Laguna can proudly consider itself as the most dynamic region of the island, with one of the youngest populations in the Canary Islands and constant renewals. It’s considered to be a university city and that implies a more cosmopolitan atmosphere. Students from all over the Islands renew the life of the city every year, dissolving the original varnish of their own towns in order to become a “lagunero”. Not just them but also the hundreds of Erasmus students that come here to finish their studies or doctorates and that with their books and dictionaries also bring their surfboards, backpacks and a new way of seeing the w
Heir of its own history it still maintains its status as cultural centre of the islands, not only because of its centers of international prestige such as the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands or the University Institute of Bio-Organics, but also for its private institutions like La Paz Choral Society or the Ateneo Theatre, that maintain the spirit of the cultural debates of poets and writers, artists like Nava (18th century) that would embody the best examples of the Illustration. Art galleries, convents transformed into spaces of artistic expression, alternative cultural centers, theaters and museums, even bars and pubs that thanks to the project of Cultural Routes sponsored by the town’s council join the cultural offer of the area.
Aguere is a city of quiet walks with the rhythm of a small town, busy with the madness of the peak hours and more relaxed during the morning hours, but never boring. Ideal for leisure shopping and discovering new treasures.
Without a doubt, one of the most appealing aspects of the area for both inhabitants and visitors is the gastronomy. It is almost an obligation, a daily rite, eating out at least once a week with any excuse. The whole island enjoys a high culinary level with widely recognized chefs and La Laguna has a great offer on this sector, from the classic “Taberna Osuna” with a Canarian menu without any ostentation to the “El Esquinazo”, near the shrine of Saint Benito Abad, also serving Canarian and international meals. There are some other interesting options such as “El Guaydil” with a lovely wine selection or the “Rakaposhi” with a Himalayan menu, right behind the Leal Theatre.
Afterwards, always coffee on one of the many terraces or a nice cream cone at “López Echeto” for those with a sweet tooth. Probably nearby you’ll find a house or a door, maybe someone walking by, that will tell you a story. It might be the story of the corsair Amaro Pargo and his friendship with Saint María de Jesús “God’s little servant”, of how he saved her life thousands of kilometers away beyond the sea, with a simple act of bilocation and whose uncorrupted remains are still being worshiped at the convent of Saint Catalina of Siena. Maybe the legend of the ghost of Catalina Lercaro who still wanders around what used to be her home, the town’s History Museum.