Santa Cruz de Tenerife, to give it its full title, is the capital city of Tenerife. It also has the distinction of being, jointly with Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, the capital of all the Canaries.
The city, with a population approaching 250,000, is the second most populous in the Canary Islands and the 12th largest in Spain.
Santa Cruz is a cosmopolitan, cheerful and vibrant metropolis. Looking out onto the sea, it is full of interesting places to see and has a distictive character. The city is ideal for taking a stroll and relaxing along its avenues and pedestrianised streets. It offers great cultural and leisure activities and a pedestrian shopping area. Its shops offer all sorts of products and manufactured goods from all over the world, at very reasonable prices.
It has one of the busiest ports in Spain, being a crossroads between Europe, Africa and America. Ships and cruise vessels of every nationality pass through regularly.
The capital also shows how tradition and modernity can merge to create a rich architectural mix, with typical Canarian style buildings next to ultra-modern ones.
The culture of Santa Cruz is extremely varied. There is so much to see. Museums, art exhibitions and shows take place throughout the year. And for music lovers, there are the concerts of the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra - Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife - considered to be amongst the best in Europe.
The layout of the city is structured into boulevards and wide avenues dotted with examples of modern sculpture. Its centre is marked by the Plaza de España, built over the former site of the San Cristóbal castle.
Facing the square is the Tenerife Council building. Several busy streets and squares meet here, such as the Plaza de la Candelaria, at its centre a monument called the "Triumph of the Virgin of Candelaria".
Nearby, you'll find other noteworthy architectural landmarks. There is the Casino, which houses an important collection of works by Canarian painters. The Guimerá Theatre, built on the site of the former convent of Santo Domingo and inaugurated in 1851, displays a mixture of classic and Romantic styles, with an elaborate gold interior, decorated with frescoes.
You'll find a number of churches in this oldest part of the city. The Church of San Francisco, beautifully baroque, nestles there and also the Church of El Pilar, which was built on the ruins of a former hermitage.
A major historical building is the Church of la Concepción. It features a wooden balcony on the outside, typical of the island's colonial style. It houses an important collection of religious art, plus the image of the Virgen de la Consolación, in Gothic style and the Cross of the Conquest, brought to the island by the conquistador Fernández de Lugo.
The city also has numerous green areas. García Sanabria Park features a Museum of Open Air Sculptures.
The Maritime Park is well worth a visit. It is an area for relaxation and situated on the former commercial dock. In La Caleta de Negros, nearby, you can see the castle of San Juan, one of the best preserved castles on the island. It is also known as the Black Castle, because of the blocks of volcanic stone that were used for its construction.
Must See Tourist Sites
Auditorio de Tenerife
The Auditorium of Tenerife, built in 2003, has a very distictive, sail-like appearance. It contains a large concert hall, a room for opera performance and a number of smaller rooms. Situated in the Port of Santa Cruz district, it is close to the sea and has been visited by, amongst others, Bill Clinton. Its unique shape makes it one of the most photographed sights in Tenerife.
Auditorio de Tenerife
The Auditorium of Tenerife, built in 2003, has a very distictive, sail-like appearance. It contains a large concert hall, a room for opera performance and a number of smaller rooms.
Situated in the Port of Santa Cruz district, it is close to the sea and has been visited by, amongst others, Bill Clinton. Its unique shape makes it one of the most photographed sights in Tenerife.
Torres de Santa Cruz
These Towers of Santa Cruz are the tallest buildings in the Canary Islands.
Tenerife Espacio de las Artes
Literally "Tenerife Space of the Arts", this building houses a museum, a library and a centre for photography, as well as a hall, a restaurant, a shop, a public plaza and offices.
Centro Internacional de Ferias y Congresos de Tenerife
The Tenerife International Centre for Trade Fairs and Congresses is designed as a building to host fairs, exhibitions and conferences. The Great Hall, located on the top floor, is the largest covered space in the Canary Islands.
Las Teresitas Beach
If you want a taste of the seaside, pop over to San Andrés, a neighbouring seaman's quarter located beside the artificial beach of Las Teresitas, with its fine, golden sand, imported from the Sahara.
Santa Cruz is the hub of Tenerife´s communications and transport system and this makes it an ideal starting point for excursions to explore the rest of the island.
Santa Cruz has much opportunity for retail therapy. There is Zona Centro (Central zone), extending from Plaza Weyler to Plaza España and Calle El Pilar, incorporating the pedestrianised Calle Castillo, San José, del Pilar and Viera y Clavijo.
Zona Rambla (Rambla area) extends from Rambla de Pulido to Calle General Mola. You also have Calle Ramón y Cajal, and the big shopping centres and department stores in Avenida de 3 Mayo, plus the big malls in Añaza in the southern suburbs.
The most upmarket high street shopping can be found on Calle del Pilar and nearby Parque Bulevar Shopping Centre, where there are many designer shops.
For many of the items, such as tobacco, alcohol, electronic devices, beauty products and sunglasses, you'll be surprised at the low prices, more so than even Spain.
This is because the Canary Islands enjoy a special, much lighter taxation rate than mainland Europe.
Santa Cruz also features a Sunday Market, set up in the streets between the Cathedral and the Mercado Nuestra Señora de Africa. As markets go, it is quite spacious and, strolling through it, you don't feel hemmed in, claustrophobic and hassled.
By night, the streets of Santa Cruz are well lit and feel very safe. The shops stay open till after 8 and the nightlife doesn't get properly underway till around 10pm. The people of Santa Cruz like to start late and finish even later!
You'll find a good selection of discos and pubs in the César Manrique Park, Avenida 3 de Mayo and the Anaga Residential. More pubs are situated in La Noria street and the surrounding area.
You might even discover a bar proclaiming itself to be an "Official Irish Pub". At J C Murphy's, for example, they sell Guinness, but that's where any resemblance to a hostelry in the Emerald Isle ends. Occasionally, though, you might be surprised to find a real Irishman behind the bar!
Whatever your preference, clubbing into the early hours or just enjoying a quiet evening drink, people watching, you'll find something appropriate amongst all of Santa Cruz's vibrant nightlife.
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