Ship building in Santa Cruz de La Palma

November 4, 2015

Santa Cruz used to be the third biggest port in the Spanish empire, after Cadiz and Antwerp. So perhaps it’s not surprising that it also used to be quite a big shipyard. Some 90 ships were built there between 1809 and 1948. In fact I was recently told that the chestnut trees weren’t introduced for the chestnuts: they were mostly for the wood, for shipbuilding. One of the biggest was…

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Hacienda de Abajo

July 25, 2015

 The poshest hotel on La Palma is both the newest and the oldest. That is, the hotel has been open for only three years, but the main building dates back to the 17th century. Hacienda de Abajo in Tazacorte was a sugar cane plantation and the main family house of the Sotomayor Topete family who owned quite a lot of the island, including an estate higher up (Hacienda de Arriba)….

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Local history: The Tazacorte Martyrs

Tazacorte martyrs: The martyrs go to heaven
March 9, 2015

In 1570, a party of Jesuit missionaries were on their way from Portugal to Brazil. They broke their journey in Puerto de Tazacorte. It was an unplanned stop: they’d been heading for Santa Cruz de la Palma, but the winds were against them. On arrival in Tazacorte, Fr. Acevedo was amazed to find that the owner of the estate was an old friend from Oporto, don Melchor de Monteverde y…

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BOOKS in English

The cover of the second edition of "A Breathtaking Window on the Universe"
January 18, 2015

A Breathtaking Window on the Universe: A guide to the observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos SECOND EDITION” (Non-Fiction).   by Sheila M. Crosby Paperback, 164 pages A5 (16 more than the first edition) Welcome to the Roque de Los Muchachos, where 16 telescopes from 19 nations use the best night sky in Europe to explore the cosmos. Find out what it’s like to work in this strange world…

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St. Catherine’s Fort (Castillo de Santa Catalina)

In 1553 French pirates attacked Santa Cruz de La Palma, so they built a small fort to defend the town from future attacks. This was just a platform with a tower, and it was destroyed by flooding during a storm in 1671. In 1676 work started on the current fort, and it was finished in 1701. It’s nothing like the tower of London, but then it didn’t need to be….

January 29, 2013
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Happy Birthday PrincipiaCumpleaños Feliz a Principia Alles Gute zum Geburtstag Principia

Newton's Pincipia
July 5, 2012

Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, (Latin for “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”) was published 325 years ago today, on 5 July 1687. This is the book that laid out Newtonian Physics. It’s an astonishing book.  In the section on the orbit of the planets and their moons, Newton showed that gravity depends on the square of the distance between massive bodies, and that the gravity acts as though it’s…

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