They get photographed by literally millions of people every year. They stand defiant against the Atlantic Ocean spray and the searing sun of a midsummer’s day. But who are these bronze heroes who grace the promenades, plazas and viewpoints of Tenerife?
The Candelaria Menceys
Lining the ocean side of Plaza de la Patrona, keeping guard over the statue of Our Lady of Candelaria (Patron Saint of the Canary Islands) housed in her Basilica, are the nine Menceys, or former rulers, of Tenerife. Before the Spanish conquest the island was divided into nine kingdoms, each ruled by a mencey, every one of whom is represented here. The work of La Laguna sculptor José Abad, the bronze monuments are a permanent testament and homage to the island’s heritage.
Monument to the Fallen, Santa Cruz
Taking centre stage alongside the fountain in Plaza España, the perfectly formed, bronze buttocks of the silent warriors are the work of Cadiz sculptor Enrique Cejas Zaldívar. Constructed in 1944 at the end of the Spanish Civil War, the whole monument is a memorial to the members of the military forces of the Canary Islands who lost their lives in that conflict.
Monument to the heroic deeds of 25th July 1797, Santa Cruz
Currently awaiting completion of the remodelling of the waterfront at Plaza España before she can once again take up her position at the former Battery of San Francisco, close to the Auditorium, is the bronze woman who stands defiantly against all odds. The work of Canary Islands sculptor Manuel Betancourt, she is a tribute to the forces of Santa Cruz who, on 25th July 1797, defeated the British fleet under the command of Nelson. A landmark victory for Tenerife.
Simón de Bolívar, Garachico
One of the most controversial of all Tenerife’s monuments, the statue of Simón Bólivar, liberator of much of South America, has an inscription that says his mother was from Garachico. Historians in the main disagree. But the homage behind the statue, constructed in Caracas by Gran Canaria sculptor Juan Jaén, is to the man who liberated so many Latin American colonies from their Spanish oppressors and made Venezuela a safe haven for those who fled poverty for a new life in the ‘eighth Canary Island’.
Statue to the Emigrants, Garachico
On the viewpoint headland above Simón Bólivar is an odd little statue that looks like a man running for a train while his briefcase flies open, sending files to the Atlantic winds. In fact it’s a tribute to the fifth of the population of Garachico who fled the poverty of the 1940s to seek a new life in Venezuela and returned wealthy to invest in the regeneration of the town. The sculpture is the work of Santa Cruz poet and sculptor Fernando García Ramos.
Mencey Bentor, Mirador El Lance, Los Realejos
The creation of Canarian sculptress Carmensa León, the impressive bronze is of the legendary Mencey Bentor who, his father tricked and slaughtered and the Guanche defeated, threw himself to his death from this spot rather than face the humiliation of defeat and subjugation by the Spanish.
The Fishwife, Puerto de la Cruz
Everyone’s favourite ‘selfie’ companion, the wonderful fish wife on the harbour in Puerto de la Cruz is a homage by Spanish sculptor Julio Nieto to the fishermen’s wives of Puerto, the backbone of a traditional, fishing community and industry which still thrives around this pretty little harbour.
Category : about tenerife
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