The Famous Balconies

The famous sea-front balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma
December 3, 2018

These are the famous sea-front balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma. Actually these are the backs of the houses: the fronts look onto the Calle Real. When I first came to the island in 1990, the woodwork was all green and the plaster all white. For the town’s 500th anniversay, in 1993, the whole lot disappeared behind acres of black plastic sheeting for weeks while they were repainted in…

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Imposing Gateways

June 15, 2018

 In the 17th century, landowners in La Palma got rich on sugar cane. These rich families used to leave the heat of Santa Cruz de la Palma and spend the summer on their country estates, particularly in Breña Baja and Breña Alta. The houses are still private, but in some cases the gateway is clearly visible from the road. It’s a social symbol of wealth and power. These old families…

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Multi-coloured Moorish ceilings in La Palma

Cover of the book
March 5, 2018

There’s a new book out about La Palma’s art history, specifically the gorgeous multi-coloured ceilings. It’s only available in Spanish, but you can still enjoy the 28 colour photos and numerous black and white photos and drawings. The photos here are copied from the book which you can buy it from bookshops in Santa Cruz and Los Llanos. It costs 15€. When Felipe II forced the Muslims to leave Spain…

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Rooftop Crow’s Nests

January 22, 2018

Three hundred years ago, Santa Cruz de la Palma was the third biggest port in the Spanish Empire. Almost every ship traveling from Spain to the Americas stopped here. In the 19th century, it was still a major port, and many of the inhabitants waited anxiously for a ship bringing their merchandise, letters from family members who’d emigrated to Cuba or Venezuela, or the loved ones themselves, as passengers or…

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The Old Church of San Juan, Puntallana

July 11, 2016

The exterior of the church of San Juan, Puntallana As Palmeran churches go, the church of St. John the Baptist in Puntallana isn’t all that old. The presbytery and the side chapels date from the 16th century, and the nave from the 1719. It was officially declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (rather like a listed building) in 1994. The main altar in the church of San Juan, Puntallana The…

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Tazacorte Church

March 12, 2016

The outside of the church of St Michael the Archangel, Tazacorte I popped into Tazacorte church. I’m not religious, but most of the churches on La Palma are beautiful, and worth at least a quick look. Even if the building itself isn’t special, there’s often a beautiful renaissance statue. In this case, I’d recently translated a text that said the church “was built at the end of the 15th century,…

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