Getting the Best from a Visit to La Orotava

Fri, July 29th, 2011 - By Andrea Montgomery

Tenerife’s aristocratic town of La Orotava lies in the valley of the same name, above the coast in the north of the island. With its rich architectural heritage and its beautiful gardens, it’s a popular excursion destination for visitors from all over Tenerife and you can join a tour from any of the popular resorts of Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Americas, Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes and Costa Del Silencio.

One of the main destinations for tour groups is the Casas de Los Balcones, the finest examples of traditional balconied houses to be found on the island. Apart from being extremely photogenic with its displays of scarlet geraniums against the intricate beauty of the wood carving, the Casa Del Turista has stunning views over the La Orotava Valley and Puerto de la Cruz from its rear courtyard. Unfortunately, it also has hordes of visitors and a shop stuffed to its 17th century rafters with souvenirs, through which visitors are channelled.

Once you’ve seen the view, head over the road to Casa Méndez-Fonseca instead where you’ll find a much prettier courtyard with samples of local wines from Tenerife’s best vineyards and a wonderfully quirky upstairs museum where a pittance of an entrance fee provides you with a fascinating glance into the aristocratic, 400 year old, ‘upstairs’ life of the house’s former occupants.

From the Casas de Los Balcones, drop down Colegio, popping into the wonderful Casa Lercaro with its eclectic courtyard of sculptures and peacocks and its ‘I want to buy everything‘ shop upstairs, to the Church of the Conception whose domed roof dominates La Orotava’s skyline. Pop inside to see the dome, the altar angels and the ornate pulpit. Outside,cross the road to get the full effect of the Draculean Gothic frontage with its ugly gargoyles, and don’t miss the bronze sculpture of the alfombrista – La Orotava’s famous flower carpet makers – behind the church.

If you have time, head along Carrera del Escultor and go back one street to the main square of Plaza de la Concepción with its picturesque bandstand café. Cross the road, through the gates to the splendid, formal Italian gardens of the Marquis of Quinta Roja where you’ll find fountains, roses and the marble mausoleum in which the remains of the eponymous Marquis are entombed. A staunch supporter of the Masonic Society, the Marquis was refused a Catholic burial by the church so his mother commissioned this splendid mausoleum and had it placed right at the top of the hill where everyone could see it – a glorious snub to the church.

By complete contrast, the little Botanical Gardens behind the Town Hall are a chaotic jungle of tropical giants with a lovely Drago tree in the centre and nice, clean public toilets in a Hansel and Gretel style house.

Practicalities:

La Orotava’s streets are very steep so wear sensible shoes and be prepared to give your calves a workout. In winter it can be considerably cooler up here than on the southern coast so bring a sweater.

 

Posted : Friday, July 29th, 2011 at 10:58 am
Category : days out
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2 Responses to “Getting the Best from a Visit to La Orotava”

  1. […] tables all over the island. You’ll find hundreds of them in huge pots in the doorways of the Casas de Los Balcones in La Orotava and inside you’ll find them on souvenir fridge magnets. If you fancy taking a […]

  2. […] as far as the 16th century in the Rural Hotel La Orotava in the heart of the town near the famous Casas de Los Balcones. Beamed ceilings, wooden floors, low doorways and oodles of character surround a charming courtyard […]

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