Tenerife Castles

Mon, March 24th, 2014 - By Andrea Montgomery

They may not have the rich history of conflict which has left such a legacy of fine fortresses across much of Europe, but being at the crossroads to the New World 500 years ago put the Canary Islands at the heart of a frontier society. At the mercy of constant attacks from pirates and privateers (there’s a thin line between those two), Tenerife and her neighbours had to be on constant alert and to have defences ready for would-be assailants. These are what remains of the island’s fortifications.


Castillo de San Juan Bautiste


Castillo de San Juan Bautista, Santa Cruz
Known as the Black Castle, this is Tenerife’s best conserved castle and can be found alongside the Auditorium and Parque Maritimo in Santa Cruz. Fuelled by fear of invasion by Portuguese troops, and funded by proceeds raised by petitioning the city’s inhabitants, the Black Castle was constructed to bolster the capital’s defences in 1641 at the start of the Portuguese Revolution. Not open to the public.


Castillo de San Miguel, Garachico


Castillo San Miguel, Garachico
Keeping guard over the El Caletón rock pools of Garachico, the San Miguel castle was constructed in 1577 to protect the town from attack by Berber pirates. During the 16th century Garachico was the wealthiest town on Tenerife and the only one with a natural harbour deep enough to accommodate vessels returning from the New World laden with gold and silver. Amazingly, the castle survived the 1706 eruption. Today it’s open to the public from 10am to 6pm daily.

Castillo San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz
Sited in the centre of the bay in what is now Plaza España, the Castillo de San Cristobal was the key defence in protecting Santa Cruz from attack by Nelson in 1797. Constructed in 1575 the castle was, for many years, the centrepiece of the city’s defences and when it was demolished by the Cabildo in 1928 to make way for the development of Plaza España, it was amidst a storm of protest. Today, all that’s left of its fortifications, along with the canon that allegedly blew Nelson’s arm off, can be seen beneath the Plaza. Open Wed -Mon, 10am-6pm, Sat & Sun 11am-7pm. Entrance free.


Castillo San Felipe, Puerto de la Cruz


Castillo San Felipe, Puerto de la Cruz
Marking the easterly end of Playa Jardín and the venue for exhibitions and occasional concerts, the impressive, Colonial style castle of San Felipe was constructed in 1655 to ward off attack from pirates. That role became more essential when Puerto de la Cruz was promoted to the island’s main port after Garachico’s was destroyed in 1706. The castle remained in ‘active’ service until 1878 when it was decommissioned and handed over to the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall).


Torre de San Andres


Torre de San Andrés
Less of a castle and more of a tower, the Torre de San Andrea which stands, or rather half lies, on the edge of San Andrés, can be seen en route to Las Teresitas beach from the city.  The first tower was constructed in 1706 but was destroyed in a flood. The same fate befell at least two of its replacements until finally, following floods of 1878 the Tower was abandoned and left to ruins. Today it’s known as the Broken Castle.

Posted : Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 11:20 am
Category : about tenerife
Subscribe : RSS 2.0

Leave a Reply