Whirlwind tour of Santa Cruz

I’m sometimes asked, particularly by folk taking a cruise, what there is to see in Santa Cruz in a short time. Continuing our seeing Tenerife as a tourist theme, we continued back from our trip to the north via way of visiting the capital. Since time was not on our side, we decided to look around the city by car, but those who are visiting for the day can spend more time at each location.

As with any city, Santa Cruz has rhythm and style, a vibrant, bustling, place offering an endless variety of things to do from cultural and retail experiences in its narrow streets to havens of relaxation in its gardens and parks. Yet it is compact enough to explore on foot.

Situated in a large bay that reflects its maritime past, locals are referred to as Chicharreros and a statue of a Chicharrero (little fish) can be found near the Plaza del Principe.

Plaza de España is a good starting point, originally the site of Castillo de San Cristobal that was replaced by what is now the heart of the city. Bordered on one side by the ocean, on another by offices and on the remaining sides by cafés and tree-lined avenues the square is set against a stunning backdrop of the Anaga Mountains. It is dominated by a shallow lake that spurts water every now and then. There are a couple of plant covered buildings, that from some angles don’t look like buildings, one is the tourism office, another, a tunnel that takes you to the remains of the castle. At the edge of the plaza a huge Memorial to the Fallen.

From the Plaza head up to Plaza de la Candelaria, or under the Serrador Bridge to the delightful Calle Noria, where there are plenty of bars, shops and restaurants with lots of ambience. When darkness falls this along with the Marina is where you’ll find the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Next, saunter in the Parque Garcia Sanabria taking in the flower clock and the numerous sculptures. It’s not the largest of parks but it is enchanting, an oasis in a concrete jungle. Its paths lead to hidden delights like sculptures, water features, and the fountain surrounding the Fecundidad (she of voluptuous boobs and thighs).

Visit a museum, there are several, each offering a different view of Tenerife. Those interested in archaeology can visit the Museum of Nature and Man, the stargazers can check out the Museum of Science and the Cosmos and my favourite the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, (TEA). Bear in mind the museums close on Mondays. (Except the Military Museum closed Sunday) and, entry is free on Sundays.

After the culture, it’s time for some shopping and nowhere is more popular than the African market (Mercado Nuestra Senora de Africa) easy to find as the clock tower dominates the skyline. Once through the arched entrance you can buy almost anything. Not tacky souvenirs but fruits, herbs, sweets, wine, you name it, they have it. Follow your nose and the aroma of freshly ground coffee, and sit in the courtyard café before facing every manner of sea creature on the fishmongers stall. The market is open every day, and is a short walk from the bus station.

From the market, amble back to the Iglesia de la Concepción. The city church dates back to 1500, and replaces the small chapel where the area fell to the Spanish Conquistadors.

Ramble along the Rambla del General Franco, the main road that runs the length of the city. Lined on either side by shady trees, you will find restaurants, cafes, and sculptures by artists like Miró and Moore. If this is your thing then check the mask at the Guimerá Theatre.

Next stop, the magnificent Auditorio de Tenerife, one of the most recognisable example of modern architecture in the Canary Islands. It looks like a huge white wave, sparkling in sunlight by day or dramatic at night. Lots of musical performances take place here, even the rocks surrounding the building have the pictures of world famous artists.

Finally when the limbs are complaining of too much activity, spend an hour at the César Manrique Maritime Park soaking up the sun among the lakes, fountains and gardens while hearing the buzz of the city in the background.

One day to check out Santa Cruz is just not enough, but it is finally time to be homeward bound. Taking the motorway and under the ever present eye of el Teide we head south. Ready for the final stage of our journey as a tourist.

NB: Images that do not say Red Queen Musings are taken from the Internet
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