Today we went to Candelaria on the southeast coast of Tenerife. We have been many times in the past but thought we would explore a little more to see if there was more to this small town than the market, the main shopping street and of course the Basilica of Our Lady Candelaria, the Patron Saint of the Canary Islands..
Walk along any of the roads that lead to the Basilica and you will find yourself coming face to face with the statues of the Guanches, represented by nine Menceys (chieftains). They are the guardians of the Virgin of Candelaria, who with their backs to the sea and their faces to the main square and the basilica watch over the tourists who gather and take photos.
The Guanches are the ancient inhabitants of the Island. Legend has it that two Guanche shepherds discovered a carved statue on the beach, they took it to the mencey and the statue was located in the Cave of San Blas where the Guanches worshipped her as a goddess. The cave housed the statue until a church was built but a fierce storm blew up that not only ruined the church but also carried the Virgin back out to sea. A replacement statue was made for the La Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, which is where the Virgin of Candelaria now resides. The Virgin is a big attraction and object of devotion to many Catholics. The festival on 15 August is one of the most important religious celebrations on Tenerife and thousands of people come to make the pilgrimage and the townsfolk dress in skins to act out her discovery.
While a large part of Candelaria is a developing town, the main area retains its original picturesque fishing village image. Wandering down from the local market, the pedestrian streets in this area are full of florists, ice cream, cake shops and places in which you can find the ideal gift or souvenir. I always stop at the shop down from the tourist office to buy cakes to take home they have an amazing selection and OH likes the shop opposite as they sell trendy socks with Guanche designs.
Bars, cafes and restaurants offer mouth-watering menus. Candelaria’s, traditional food, like the rest of the island, is simple and made with the freshest ingredients such as fish just taken from the sea that you can taste while enjoying the sound of the waves, a gentle breeze and picture postcard views of the Atlantic Ocean.
We wandered up to the Santa Ana district, to find a pottery centre and museum, Centro Alfarero de Candelaria Casa las Miquelas, and watched a demonstration in the workshop of how pottery was traditionally made, but because our hands were full of dogs leads and packages of cakes we didn’t buy anything from the craft shop.
Continuing out of town towards where the hotels are located we walked the dogs along the flat promenade to La Caletillas the intention was to find the original stone Guanche statues. The problem with this end of town is there are just too many nice places to have a cake and a coffee and the walk is far enough from the car that you can easily be waylaid with two treats!
Among Candelaria’s treasures are several miles of black volcanic beaches where the locals gather to catch the sun or play topless volleyball much to the delight of the voyeur leaning on the seawall, however for me it was a unique foot massage after all the walking but it was a bit brrrrrrrrrrr.
If unlike me you are more organised, there are free guided tours of the town that start at the Tourist Information Office but you need to make a reservation by phoning 922 032 230 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org the office is open Monday to Friday 09.00 to 14:00 and 15:00 to 17.00.