The cradle of Spanish tourism, Puerto de la Cruz in the north of Tenerife has been hosting refugees from Northern Europe’s winter bite ever since Marianne North set up her easel, took out her paints and said “I scarcely ever went out without finding some new wonder to paint…” Spending much of her time in the garden of an English resident named Charles Smith, Ms North created canvas after canvas of the perfect roses, myrtle trees and great white lilies that formed a floral foreground to the snow covered peak of Mount Teide, most of which today adorn her gallery at Kew Gardens.
As well as artists and botanists, Puerto attracted scientists and explorers to its exotic shores, amongst them Alexander von Humboldt and Sir Richard Burton. Along with the learned and talented came the wealthy Victorians and the Royals who over-wintered in the Grand Hotel Taoro which watched over the little town from its hilltop home on ´The Mount of Misery’. With the advent of steam came the first package holiday makers known as ‘Yeowardites’ as they came on the fruit cargo ships owned by the Yeoward Line sailing out of Liverpool in the early 20th century.
Today’s Puerto still attracts visitors from across Europe to spend a week or two beneath its blue skies and amidst its banana plantations, palm trees and tumbling bougainvillea but they’re very much in the minority. Of the thousands of holidaymakers who weekly descend into Tenerife, the vast majority head south to the shiny, new, four and five star hotels of the south, leaving Puerto to those who prefer to enjoy a slice of culture with their sunshine.
The latest walking guide in our Town and City Walks series features Puerto de la Cruz. Beginning in the Plaza del Charco heart of the town with its yam fountain, Indian laurel trees brought from Cuba in 1852 and its traditional Canarian mansions which now serve as restaurants, our town walk takes in many of Puerto’s most historical and picturesque features. We visit the town’s oldest buildings, its former Franciscan convent, its splendid lookout tower and the little church where victims of the great storm of 1826 are buried beneath the floor.
For the green fingered flower lovers, we have also included a Puerto garden route which takes in the splendour of those gardens where Marianne North spent her idyllic days and the extensive gardens that adorn the Mount of Misery around the former Gran Hotel Taoro which today awaits metamorphosis into the next phase of its iconic history.
If you’re planning a visit or a stay in Puerto, pick up a Town and City Walks, Puerto de la Cruz guide for just €3 and follow in the footsteps of the artists, explorers and Victorians who helped to make the town what it is today – Tenerife’s cultural resort.