Isle of Tenerife

Vacation in Santa Úrsula

Santa Ursula is named after a Cornish princess

Perched as it is on a natural balcony, the town and wider municipality of Santa Úrsula looks across the tourist resort of Puerto de la Cruz and the lush Orotava Valley, taking in some of the most breathtaking views to be found anywhere on the island.

Despite some tourism encroachment from Puerto, the area remains predominantly agricultural, famed for its abundant crop of wine, bananas, cereals, exotic plants and carnations.

Santa Úrsula also enjoys something of a gastronomic reputation, offering a wide variety of bars and restaurants, many featuring typical Canarian dishes while others cater for the demands of more cosmopolitan tastes.

Most of the restaurants are found along the old general road, once the main arterial route around the island but now superceded by the motorway network.

Scores of small bodegas can be found dotted around the area, all specialising in the rich, fruity and heady red wines of the Tacoronte-Acentejo region, of which Santa Úrsula is part and which are generally regarded to be among the best on the island.

The coastal area of Santa Úrsula, referred to as La Quinta, has seen much development in recent years, though it retains an up-market feel thanks to the natural vegetation and the modern but tasteful design of the property.

Much of Santa Úrsula's coastline is part of the Acantilados del Sauzal, where the sea has carved open the giant cliffs to reveal the structure formed by an accumulation of successive lava flows.

Apart from endemic plant species, the area is also a sanctuary and breeding ground for sea birds such as shearwaters.

The upper reaches of Santa Úrsula, known as Las Laderas de Santa Úrsula, contain areas of great environmental and scenic importance.

The town takes its name from a legendary third-century British princess, said to have been the daughter of Deonotus, King of Cornwall. Canon, the son of Aggripinius, another British king, sought her hand in marriage, but Ursula had made a vow of perpetual virginity.

With a large company of maidens, she set out on a pilgrimage of the Holy places in Rome, and then to Rome, where she was received with great honour by the Bishop of Rome.
Canon sought her in Rome, where he learnt of her vow. He was converted and baptised, taking the name of Etherius. He journeyed with Ursula and her maidens to Cologne where they were attacked by the Huns, and Canon and the maidens were slain.

Ursula was taken to the Hun leader, who fell in love with her and wished to marry her. She rejected his offer and, in his anger, he shot three arrows into her breast, killing her.

The town church dedicated to her is one of the oldest on the island, founded in 1587. It contains several interesting holy carvings in ivory, wood and marble.