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A PARADISE TO EXPLORE

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1. THE CHURCH OF SANTIAGO APOSTOL According to the historian Millares Torres:”On the morning of July 25th, when the church celebrates the Santiago festivity, five Guanche kings-Bencomo, Beneharo, Acaymo, Tegueste and Zebenzui – went across the ravine which separated one camp from the other. There the general came to meet them with open flags, small drums, bugles and, accompanied by some of his main officers, he kindly embraced Bencomo”. This event led to the completion of the conquest and final incorporation of the Canary Islands to the Kingdom of Castile. Castilians very soon laid down the foundations of a church and set about building it “with the magnificence that time and their situation permitted”.

This it was possible to consecrate the first Christian church in Tenerife, the current one of Santiago Apóstol in Realejo alto, from whose rough baptismal font, and according to a very ancient tradition followed by the poet Antonio Viana and the historians Juan Núñez de la Peña and José de Viera y Clavijo, the nine valiant Guanche Menceys, together with many other distinguished natives, received the waters of baptism. The recommended visit to the town of Los Realejos starts in the Church of Santiago Apóstol, situated in between the avenue of Los Remedios and the road of El Medio de Arriba. It was declared National Historical Monument in 1983 and has got among its valuable artistic treasures the oldest pieces which remain

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in the Orotava Valley, “the triptych of Santiago”, a Flemish piece of the first quarter of the XVI century and ascribed to the master de Delft. Having its origin in a first building covered by a simple thatched roof, a temple of three naves was erected, where the central one was designed by Juan Benítez in the first decade of the XVII century. The main chapel was finished about 1667. The following bodies were raised in successive stages, whose works finished around 1730. Forty years later the tower is elevated ending in a sharp – pointed spire, which nowadays has turned into a symbol of the municipality. In the inner part we can contemplate valuable artistic pieces coming from local and foreign workshop. So we can emphasise, besides the above – mentioned Triptych of Santiago, the altarpieces of El Nazareno, La Misericordia, our lady of Los Remedios or that of Santa Bárbara among others; the pictorial pieces, sculptures and processional images, likewise a great number of craftsmanship pieces in precious metals, among the most outstanding, it is the filigree work Cross from 1677. It is worth noting, in the same way, the three stonework fronts, the main one that from the primitive factory with Renaissance shapes. The one in the southern flank, raised by Manuel Penedo in 1627, and the one in the northern flank related to its homonyms of the nearby church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which presents classicistic influences.

In front of this temple, surrounded by the square devoted to Viera y Clavijo, stands the building which some years ago was the old Town Hall and where nowadays the municipal library is placed.

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2. CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF EL CARMEN

The stretch situated at the end of La Alhondiga road leads to the stairs that allow us to see a carved sculpture made of stone, which represents the shape of a seagull that pays tribute to the seamen. There we find the Church of Our Lady of El Carmen, a church which was planned in 1955 by Tomás Machado in the place where the concent of the retiring Augustinian nuns of St Andrés and St Mónica had been erected, the last convent founded in the Canarias and the only one that belongs to that order, unfortunately disappeared after a fire which took place in 1952. It has nothing to do with the original frame, since it was completely designed frame, since it was completely designed according to the Lady of El Carmen, which had to be the center of interest of the temple. Not in vain she is the Honorary and Perpetual Lady of Los Realejos and the Saint Patron of the Orotava Valley. From the old work it only incorporated its doorway. It also keeps the image of Saint Augustine, assigned to Rodrìguez de la Olivia, the ones of St Andrew and St Mònica, attributed to Làzaro Gonzàlez de Ocampo (1651 – 1714), the Lord of the Garden, anonymous work of the XVII century, coming from the Franciscan ex-convent, an ivory crucified Lord and the portrait of the founder, Juan de Gordejuela.

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3. THE CHURCH OF LA CONCEPCIÓN It is always advisable to walk around the narrow roads full of charm and nice surprises in the centre of the historical setting. To discover the houses of La Acequia road or the Toste one, or to observe the Parochial House situated in Cantillo de abajo road is an itinerary worth doing. By coming down Guillerme Camacho and Pérez Galdós road becomes visible the squire that surrounds the Church of La Concepción, the second most important in the municipality.

An old Hermitage dedicated to Our Lady, build in the XVI century, was the predecessor of the current church of the three naves. Its last construction stage dates between 1697 and 1701. A fire taking place in 1978 destroyed the whole building, losing forever its precious covered ceilings of Mudejar origin, baroque and neo – 5


classical altarpieces, like the one of Our Lady of El Rosario, Sculptures from different schools, like the one of Our Lady of La Candelaria, by Martínez Montañéz, or that of Our Lady of the Afflicted, ascribed to Martín de Andújar, as well as the cancases which recalled the paintbrush of the Canarian painter Hernández de Quintana), among them we emphasise the picture Ánimas, which shared the altar which the carving of St Michael the Archangel (XVI century). Two Mary images were recovered, the one of Our Lady of El Rosario and La Dolorosa. The first one is likely to have come out of the workshop of Pereira, sculptor of Madrid of the XVII century. La Dolorosa, work of art which was probably made by Rodríguez de la Oliva (+1777), was a part of the Calvary located in the nave of the Gospel. The pieces of craftsmanship which could be rescued from the fire are also importand and among them we stand out the Franciscan gilded silver custody, of the second half of the XVIII century, and the processional Cross, made in 1563 by Francisco de Soto. The above – mentioned fire did not seriously affect the stonework doors; the lateral door shows a classical pediment over pilasters which are very similar to the Portuguese manuelino ones. The door corresponding to the Gospel nave presents in its upper section two – raised pattern busts, inside two stone medallions, that according to the tradition symbolize Alonso Fernández de Lugo and king Bencomo. The small Gothic door with a cone arch that belonged to the ancient vestry is worth mentioning too. The tower, which was raised in the main front, was moved to the southern flank of the building after its restoration. It was open again to workshop in 1993. Nowadays it is the target of a reproduction plan of imagery and altarpieces. The stairs located in the left side of square were built lead to the gardens where we find two splendid samples of dragon tree, so called “Twin Dragon Tree” because of their resemblance. Once on the road we must turn right to go along La Alhóndiga road. 6


4. SAN FRANCISCO DRAGON TREE

Then, after an amusing walk, the descent reaches the road Viera y Clavijo, called that way since it was in the number 101 of that road where the illustrious writer was born. The road to the San Francisco dragon tree is short. We find there the graveyard of San Fransisco de Asis, which is placed in the missing Santa Lucia monastery of Franciscan order ,built at the beginning of the XVII century and destroyed by the effect of fire in 1865.Inside its walls it is raised the stonework door of that monastery. The San Francisco dragon tree, placed in an upper part, where El Medio and Cruz Verde roads converge, is after the dragon tree of Icod de los Vinos, the most beautiful in the Canary Islands. About it, travellers and writers from other ages have said that “ its appearance is strange, it could be said it is as a huge candelabrum standing up a yucca forest. It is certainly one of the strangest vegetables in all the creation and many have believed to have seen under its cover ,the image of the dragon of the fable , guardian of the gold apples from the “Hesperides Garden’’. From the gardens surrounding this magnificent specimen the view does never disappoint. On side, a part of the municipality of Los Realejos and its neighbouring town Puerto de la Cruz; on the other, the mountains and the hillside of Tigaiga, which ends in the mouth of the ravine. 7


5.THE MENCEY BENTOR SCULPTURE The view is spectacular from the viewpoint of the Lance where the statue, as the high altitude where it is located makes it dominates breathtaking scenery from the mountain to the coast. Bentor, King of Taoro and son of Bencomo, was the last native king mencey or confronted by the ar more to the conquest of Tenerife by Alonso Fernandez de Lugo, the Head of the Catholic Monarchs in the islands. Must have been born about 1463 and died after the Second Battle of Acentejo in December 1494, following the ritual suicide Guanche, tumbling down the side of Tigaiga. With his death, he concluded the conquest of the Canary Islands. During the Battle of Aguere , the leader of the faction wars and King of Taoro, Bemcomo, was killed, and the people of Taoro named his son, Bentor as new mencey and leader. He refused to surrender to the troops sent by the Catholic Monarchs, despite the large number of military dead Guanche, as explained by the declaration of the witnesses provided by Margarita Guanarteme (1526), indicating that action as " killing the King Great was called the King of Taoro Venitomo, and Don Alonso de Lugo sent Fernando Guanarteme so it would look with King Bentor Venitomo son to require is back with the answer give the new king did not want to . "The tagoror Bentor elected as the new mencey, and he was prepared to resist. A month later, Fernandez de Lugo entered from the north of the island towards Taoro where Bentor, commanding some 6,000 warriors awaited Guanches in a ravine of the present municipality of La Victoria de Acentejo , near the place where there had been a great victory Guanche months ago. But Fernandez de Lugo wanted to ensure the victory So I divided the army into two groups, the first of them with guns and crossbows and cavalry on the flanks. The victory of the troops of Lugo was all, in what is also called the Second Battle of Acentejo and the collapse of the aboriginal resistance. Bentor committed suicide following the ritual Guanche Tigaiga tumbling by slope, in the present municipality of Los Realejos. The conquest of Tenerife was consummated, although the island is not formally joined to the crown of Castile until the summer of 1496. Bentor King was in memory, since in several of the Dates of allotment of the conquered lands contained his name: 382-40.-Martin Ponce. 8 c. Ventor ravine above, plus 3 f. to a vineyard and a house that is worth Acentejo by the dragon's low barricade. 11.Vl-1503, 639-39.-Catherine Gaspar and Juan Vaca. 4 c. of sq are down the road towards the sea and out of the ravine where derriscó Ventor. O. you are seated c. and a half in the dho. place if it is not given. 01/17/1506 . Bentor had several children with his wife Hañagua: Deríman, Ramagua and Collarampa. Deríman after baptized by the Catholic rite, imposed the name of Christopher Hernandez Taoro, later adopted the surname of his grandfather, calling Christopher Bencomo. He moved to Seville where she studied spokesman (lawyer). 8


6.HOLY WEEK

Holy Week has turned into one of the most splendid celebrations among all those that take place in our municipality all over the year. The number of fraternities and brotherhoods set up in the last decades, likewise the acquisition of a huge amount of new images, together with those ones of a great artistic value the town already had got, have made Holy Week in Los Realejos be followed every year by a arge number of visitors and faithful people aware of the showiness that goes on increasing with regard to the touristic resource.

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7. EXALTATION OF THE CROSS Leaving behind that building we find the road of El Medio de Arriba which still preserves a large amount of its old houses. This road, besides the neighboring road of El Sol are famous because of the celebrations on the 3rd of May upon the Cross devotion, the feasts which are well known in the municipality and that stand out above all in the town nucleus of La Cruz Santa. Nowadays, Los Realejos has all over the municipality about three hundreds of that Christian symbol, which are present at chapels, temples, private houses, in the heads of streets, rocks and cliffs in the sea and in the forest, roads of service and royal roads, viewpoints or simply stuck in the ground, as identity signs of the Village. The flower branches are an essential part of the celebration on the special 3rd of May. Chapels, hermitages and crosses on the walls, irrespective of their location, wake up in their best dresses. The great pyrotechnic exhibition takes place after evening, with a “pique”(competition) between the two roads and is regarded as one of the greatest and most important in Europe, assembling for about three hours thousands of visitors, who follow that show from the roads, borders, squares and other corners of the municipality. Some Scholars point out that this “pique” comes from 1770 and the existence of two well distinguished social classes: the owners of the lands where El Medio road passes, and the owners of the adjoining properties and the poor peasants of El Sol road. In the middle of El Medio de Arriba road, we find the crossroad that leads to El Lance and Icod el Alto. This is the legendary place where Mencey Bentor jumped off the cliff to avoid being prisoner of the Spanish at the end of the conquest of Tenerife. Therefore, there is a sculpture devoted to him placed in the viewpoint of El Lance, where we can also enjoy a splendid overall view of the Orotava Valley. Coming back to the crossroad, in the road called Travesia El Pino, we find a couple of barbuzano and centenarian pine trees which show their magnificence to anyone who goes along.

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8.THROUGH RAMBLA DE CASTRO This is one of the most peculiar natural settings of the Canaries. The route starts in the viewpoint of San Pedro, coming from the Northern main road and from there a wonderful overall view of the area can be contemplated. From the viewpoint two roads split up. The first of them, on the left, roams along the line of the ancient royal road which ends in the coast, going across the hermitage of San Pedro, a building which dates from the XVIII century and from its terrace we can observe another majestic view of the coastline.

The return allows us the access to the second footpath, which we will find from the parking area, and in the direction to the coast. In the first turn there are nice panoramic views of both the group of dwellings Las Pamblas del Mar and Babon. The following crossing of the road, taking the turning to the right, leads to one of the most beautiful palm groves of Tenerife, in the central point of the ravine of Castro and a scarcely some metres from its country estate. In the old entailed Estate of Castro, which offers lands of a special charm, the sound of the sea is often passed over in silence by the singing of the birds. Its gardens, with leafy palm trees, where the admiration of many travellers and illustrious visitors, like Berthelot, Lecrercq, Hans Meyer, Carballo Wanguemert, etc. The route, once the palm grove of the ravine is crossed over, goes on through the footpath until the Fortress of San Fernando, a small defensive construction which, due to its strategic position, helped to defend the coastline from the attacks of the corsairs and pirates who very often came to this side of the island, which nowadays has 3 days of the 5 cannons which originally made up its loophole. At this point, there are several choices for the traveler, since there is the possibility of deciding between doing the descent down to the beaches of Castroand La Fajana, visiting the Water Elevator of La Gordejuela, going on through the main footpath to the beach of Los Roques or coming back to the viewpoint of San Pedro, the starting point of this tour. 11


9.VITICULTURE Los Realejos is regarded as the “cathedral of the white wine”, and largely recognized by the vine experts of the archipelago. This type of wine, like the one of the Orotava Valley, has enjoyed well-deserved fame throughout their history, since it was the first viticulture center in the Canaries. In the XVII and XVIII centuries these wines were exported to England and its colonies, Germany, Holland and Latin America. The vineyards were so extensive that the illustrious son of Los Realejos, Viera y Clavijo, was moved to write that the entire valley was one immense tapestry of wines. At present, this sector is growing up together with the one of gastronomy, characterized by a wide network of cooking establishment of any kind, although headed by our traditional “guachinches”, typical and pleasant sites where everybody can taste the best home-made food and the homegrown wine.

Every year, during September, the Vintage Festivity is celebrated in the town nucleus of La Cruz Santa, an event that attempts to approach the overall history of our wine-making tradition to the visitors.

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10.FESTIVITY OF SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR The local pilgrimage of San Isidro Labrador and Santa Maria de la Cabeza, regarded as a festival of National Tourist Interest, is one of the main entertainments of May Feasts. The fervor of the countrymen of Los Realejos towards this Saint comes from the XVII century because of the spreading of the miracles and legends, after his canonization in 1622 by the Pope Gregory XV. During this festivity the participants wear traditional clothes and the bands of musicians and dancers multiply besides the embellished carriages and peasant wagons together with groups of people singing and dancing in front of the images of their Saint Patrons.

11.FESTIVITY OF EL CARMEN In July the most important meeting takes place in the Sanctuary of El Carmen, where the image of Our Lady of El Carmen, Genovese work coming from the workshop of Anton Maria Mariagliano in 1726, becomes the central point of religious devotion throughout the Orotova Valley. With regard to the extensive cultural and festive program, which happens every year and lasts about a month, the most outstanding event of the feast is the one of the Octava Procession, where the image is carried on the shoulders of the seamen of Puerto de la Cruz.

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12.EL SOCORRO BEACH The descent to the beach of El Socorro ends in a long avenue, which leads to a big creek of black sand, which is well-known among the local people of the northern region of Tenerife. Because of its natural conditions it is suitable for the practice of sea sports.

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13. LA CORONA VIEWPOINT Located in the slope of Tigaiga , in the area of Icod el Alto, the viewpoint of La Corona constitutes a unique setting from where an overall view of the Orotava Valley and the north-western side of the island can be observed. Because of its position, height and flight conditions it is one of the best places of the Canaries for the practice of paragliding and hand-gliding The Village of Los Realejos is an excellent paradise to practice alternative sports, dealing with adventure and in contact with nature. Because of the amount of naties, arranged to guide all those persons interested in the practice of this type of sports, we find out an ideal destination which comprises in a short

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space, all the necessary elements to make lovers of nature and adventure live unforgettable experiences.

Among them, we have to stand out the important consideration paragliding has got. This alternative sport, associated to lovers of nature and free hand gliding, make Los Realejos a special place for its practice in the best circumstances all over the year. The softness of the weather conditions of the region, the characteristics of the setting and the orientation of the strong blowing winds play an important role for the activity of paragliding. In La Corona viewpoint, where a big slope situated 750 metres over the sea level has been built, the paragliders can fly during hours and play with the soft clouds of the alisio winds, enjoying a majestic view which goes from the Teno Hillside, in the municipality of Buenavista, to Anaga, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Another type of sport, which has a large number of enthusiastic people is surfing, and thanks to those people, El Socorro beach has got fame and prestige among the experts of Europe. Together with the formation of waves all over the year and the nice temperatures, surfing and other activities make El Socorro beach an ideal place to enjoy. In that beach, several surfing, longboard and buggies championships take place very year. July, August and September are the habitual months chosen for these competitions, standing out among them the regional and national trials like the O’Neill award. The Canarian Archipelago, near by the tropic of Cancer, allows the practice of diving all over the year, another type of sport which has been growing in importance in that region. The clearness of water, with a very good visibility throughout the year (from 15 to 20 metres in winter and over 40 or 50 metres in summer) and the variety of fish species, make the coastline of the Village, and the Guindaste area, a paradise to observe and take photos of the submarine lives. With an average water temperature of 19◌ in February and the 23◌ in August, the activity of diving will always turn into a nice one. The most outstanding and famous spot is the Baja of Los Realejos, a big basaltic rock under water, placed 10 metres under the syrface and which falls down 70 metres deep. It is a suitable place for all divers and it is remarkable because of the large amount of the large amount of caves, stone arches and tunnels, rock made steps and abysses which take the form of big sunken stone organs, which together with the flora and fauna varieties turn into original and indelible shapes, which amaze those who look at them. Besides the previous ones, there are other sport practices, which are advisable to do in Los Realejos, such as tracking and horse riding, activities that allow going through the town enjoying the splendid surroundings, across the fit equipped roads, or on food through the wide network of footpaths which goes from the coastline to the mountains. Apnoea, mountain bike, underwater fishing and other disciplines complete the large sport offer in the village of Los Realejos

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14. WATER ELEVATOR OF LA GORDEJUELA

The second choice, which starts in Castro Ravine, leads the traveler through the Water Footpath down to the Water Elevator of La Gordejuela. To enter this old factory, situated in a natural setting of a great beauty, it is necessary to turn right and begin the slope that winds up to the factory, which was the place of the first steam machine in Tenerife, set up by the Hamilton house in 1903 with the aim at bringing water to the banana plantation areas in the Orotava Valley. The water footpath does not finish in that place but it surrounds the coastline of the protected Landscape of Rambla de Castro as far as the beach of Los Roques, leaving behind the Callao de Mendez, Callao Gordo and Pejes Reyes, three of the most outstanding settings of the coastline.

15. NATURAL POOLS OF EL GUINDASTE

From the viewpoint of San Pedro stands out the Punta de Guindaste, a small border of land, which spreads out to the sea. We came to E Guindaste through the slope of el Socorro. The first turn on the right crosses over the banana plantations landscape and a small country dewing to a number of stairs which make easy the access to the sea, where the traveler finds a privileged place to enjoy the underwater and diving: the natural pools of El Guindaste.

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Los Realejos Magazine