Isle of Tenerife

La Laguna

City of Tenerifes University - World Heritage Site

La Laguna - official name San Cristobal de La Laguna - is on the one hand a university town and on the other the only bishopric in the Canary Islands.

The centre of the town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

After Spain took control of the island in 1496 the city, named after the island's conqueror Alonso Fernández de Lugo, became the intellectual, cultural and political centre of Tenerife. Pope Clement XI created the first university in 1701.

La Laguna remained the capital until it lost its status to Santa Cruz in the 18th Century. The many 16th and 17th century buildings in La Laguna give witness to the power and wealth vested in this important colonial city during that period.

Though an important cultural and religious centre to this day, La Laguna also has a vibrant and youthful air, due in large part to the influence of its university.

San Cristobal de La Laguna was admitted to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites as "the first non-fortified Spanish colonial town; its layout provided the model for many colonial towns in the Americas."

The original Upper Town was unplanned, but the Lower Town was the first ideal 'city-territory' laid out according to philosophical principles.

Its wide streets and open spaces have a number of fine churches and public and private buildings dating from the 16th to the 18th century, UNESCO decreed.

Worth seeing in San Cristobal de La Laguna

Plaza del Adelantado
Architecturally, one of the finest squares on the island, it is surrounded by colonial style buildings such as the Convent of Santa Catalina, the Palacio de Nava, the Ermita de San Miguel and the municipal market hall.

Casa de los Capitanes
The former official residence of the island's Captain Generals is now part of the town hall. It is open to the public during office hours.

Catedral de Santa Iglesia, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción
The Cathedral, home to the tomb of the founder of the city, de Lugo, and with many other important art treasures to appreciate, was built in 1515 and underwent major reconstruction in 1905. The Church of Our Lady of the Conception is the city's oldest church, built in 1502 and little changed since.

In and around La Laguna

Anaga Mountains
Where La Laguna ends the broad sweep of the Anaga Mountains begins, with breathtaking scenery, peace and tranquility, isolation and small, tucked away villages all beckoning. Some of the mountain range's sleepy villages are so remote that they can only be reached on foot.

In January 2006 the Bishop's Palace, the 17th century Casa de Salazar on Calle San Agustín in La Laguna was completely destroyed by fire.

The fire began on the second floor and quickly spread to the rest of the building.

It took 50 firemen, with the support of two helicopters, five hours to bring the blaze under control.

The building was of great architectural importance and was one of the factors in the city attaining UNESCO's World Heritage.

The fire broke out in a library on the same floor as the Bishop's private residence. Church dignitaries were meeting in a nearby conference room but all escaped injury.

Two nearby buildings were also affected: the Diocese Library, and offices of the Spanish equivalent of the Open University - UNED. A short circuit is thought to have caused the blaze.