Shared Heritage On Living Tenerife Tours

Ask British ex pats and residents what they know of our country’s relations with Santa Cruz and they may know a little about Horacio Nelson’s failed attack on the island capital in 1797. A very civilised surrender showed the mutual respect between the two sides and led to over two decades of historical links between the UK and Tenerife. Living Tenerife Tours is a new English language window on Santa Cruz that uncovers those links, plus the lesser known buildings and characters that forged a bond between the two countries.

Leaving our super cooled people carrier at the higher end of Santa Cruz, we climbed the stone steps to the imposing facade of the Colegio Escuelas Pias catholic school, a former castle built in 1870 and greatly extended in 1943. Our guide, Jorge Ballesteros set up the new tour to share his passion and knowledge for history. Educated in Sussex and London, he has lived most of his life in Santa Cruz. The school is not normally open to the public but Jorge knows the great and the good in the capital and we were soon enjoying a potted history and panoramic views across the city. There’s a great story behind the British influence on this building, one that Jorge enjoys telling.

Versatile and informal, the tour lets the guests set the pace, our trip was just a dip into Jorge’s vault of knowledge, La Laguna, and Puerto de la Cruz are also destinations for similar small, intimate groups of around 12 people. The back streets and plazas of Santa Cruz had plenty to divulge, Why on earth would a gothic revival Anglican church dedicated to St George nestle in a quiet Tenerife back water? The brick by brick account was quite an eye opener. As we travelled between stops, Jorge pitched in little teasers about a famous UK politician visiting Tenerife, and a British hand in kick starting the Spanish Civil War.

It wasn´t just the older times that we were enlightened on, as we passed through the modern part of the capital, there was plenty of information on how Santa Cruz had re-invented itself. A stop between the Auditorium, and the Palmetum plant park helped us to piece together the new landscape. Another big favourite was the Military Museum, again Jorge smoothed our extended stay, as a working military barracks they only have limited opening hours and thee is so much to see. The canons hugging the courtyard wall were just the start, upstairs a model landscape with commentary took us through the battle for Santa Cruz. The city coat of arms bears testament to this and two previous failed British assaults.

A short trip past the port brought us back to the Plaza de España and our lunch date at the exclusive Royal Casino members club. Opened in 1840 it still has reminders of its casino past, and offers splendid views of the Plaza and port. Our food and drink reflected the best of Canarian cuisine, gofio, Canarian black pig, and an award winning Fuerteventura cheese to name just a few. It was a special way to round off the day, all the trips can be tailor made to suit your needs and it will give you a new appreciation of the culture of Tenerife.

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