Tenerife’s History Highlights

Fri, May 23rd, 2014 - By Andrea Montgomery

I appreciate that most visitors who fly to Tenerife do so mainly to enjoy its sun soaked beaches, its pampering hotels and its fun filled days and nights. But it’s worth knowing that, beyond the beaches of Costa Adeje, the nightlife of Playa de Las Americas and the Lago Martianez swimming pools of Puerto de la Cruz, there’s an island with a fascinating history. Here’s a potted version of a very chequered past:


Guanche, La Matanza


Pre-Spanish conquest – while much of Europe was parading in ruff collars, navigating the world’s oceans and learning the value of gold, Tenerife and the Canary Islands were occupied by a primitive race known collectively as Guanche. They lived in caves, wore animal skins and spent their days tending goats and fishing.

1494 Spain invades – landing and saying mass around a crucifix pushed into the ground, the conquistador Alonso Fernández de Lugo named his landing place Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) and set out to take the island. He was roundly defeated by the Guanche with their stones and spears and was lucky to get away with his life. In 1495 he returned and defeated the Guanche, finally taking the island in the name of the Crown of Spain in 1496.


Santa Cruz


16th and 17th Centuries – When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492 he opened up a vast trading route and the door to untold riches. Now safely tamed, Tenerife became a world trade centre between Europe and the Americas and grew rich. With wealth comes thieves and the island became a target for every pirate who sailed the Ocean causing Tenerife to build castles and armies to defend herself.




1706Garachico is buried in lava from the Montaña Negra eruption and loses her port and her status as Tenerife’s wealthiest town.

1797 – Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson gets his right arm blown off in a failed attempt to take the city of Santa Cruz.

1821 – Santa Cruz is awarded the status of capital of the Canary Islands and holds the title for over a century until 1927 when two provinces are created: Santa Cruz de Tenerife which encompasses Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro; and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which encompasses Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. The status of  capital of the Canary Islands becomes a shared title between Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

March 1936 – Francisco Franco, a commander in the Spanish army, is posted to Tenerife as Governor of the Canary Islands. In July of that year he flies to Gran Canaria and then onto North Africa from where he lights the spark that ignites the Spanish Revolution.


Los Rodeos Airport, North Tenerife


27th March 1977 – Los Rodeos, North Tenerife airport is the scene of the worst commercial air disaster ever seen when two Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets collide on the runway leaving 583 people dead.

Posted : Friday, May 23rd, 2014 at 2:54 pm
Category : about tenerife
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