Close to the south of Tenerife is the quaint village of Vilaflor. Surrounded by pine forests it is the highest village in Spain, located at 1,500 meters above sea level.
It has been a long time since we last visited but the views remain as magnificent as ever.
The main economy, apart from Fuente Alta mineral water, is agricultural, although these days a bit of rural tourism is thrown in for good measure.
The main street has a number of shops, bars, and restaurants but if you arrive during the heat of the afternoon, it is eerily quiet. The walkers are well into their treks, the villagers are indoors behind closed shutters.
There is, however, more to see than just admire the orange trees and potted plants from a shady roadside bench. Once you reach the small but well-kept centre there are several historical buildings close together.
Vilaflor is the birthplace of the first Canarian saint. Brother Pedro was born in here in 1626 and his presence is everywhere, from the statue as you enter town, the plaques outside the houses and the town centrepiece, the village church the Iglesia de San Pedro Apostle. There is also the Batlemita convent building began in the 18th century, and finally finished in 1980 it now houses a museum.
Check out the remains of the old water mill, built in 1664 and used until 1915, and you can still see where the grain was ground. A few yards down the road is Los Lavaderos where in the past poor families did their washing. You can also see the old steam pump used to provide water to the town laundry.
The Casa de Los Soler is one of the most important examples in the south of traditional Canarian architecture. The Marquis of Soler built it in the 17th century.
La Huerta Grande is a bakery very similar to the one in Casa de Los Soler. It is located inside a private property opposite the Fuente Alta bottling plant. Access is from the Plaza de San Pedro. The oven made up of two parts has been abandoned for many years and while one part is in reasonable and recognisable condition the other has crumbled.
Located just outside the village there is a large carpark, where you should pull in to admire the views. Across from this, a small path will take you to El Pino Gordo a spectacular Canary Island pine that is said to be more than 800 years old, is 60m high and more than 3m in diameter. On a hot day, it is the perfect place to sit on one of the small benches and enjoy the shade from the tree.
Vilaflor is not only worth a visit for its historical sites it is surrounded by exceptional landscapes that make it a paradise for walkers. The best way to visit is by car but public transport, (TITSA Line 482) can whisk you from Los Cristianos in a little over 30 minutes.