San Cristóbal de La Laguna: History

Old picture of La Laguna

The city of San Cristobal de La Laguna was founded in 1496 by Alonso Fernández de Lugo, who conquered the whole island to annex it to the Crown of Castile (Corona de Castilla). After that, de Lugo established himself in the place know a “Aguere”, an indigenous place name that means “lake”. It is said, that the whole current name of the city comes from the fact that the last battle to conquer the island was won the day of San Cristóbal, but the official name of the city was registered in 1497 for the first time.

The first Hispanic settlement in the area took place in the area where the nowadays La Concepción Church is located. Those first buildings were plain houses that attended no previous planning. But everything changes when Fernández de Lugo received the title of Adelantado from the Catholich Monarchs. De Lugo moved then to the Villa de Abajo and from that very moment, the councilor’s efforts will be focused in following a checkered games board model. At the end of the XVI century, the historical quarter of the city was almost done. La Laguna appeared then as an open city, without rampart, as it can be seen in the first plan of the city made in 1588 by Leonardo Torriani that still exists and it can be visited in the “Convento de Santo Domingo”. Clearly, a lot of buildings have been constructed and some others have been transformed but there is still a big amount of houses that remain the same as when they were build and the outline for the streets that Torriani designed remains almost intact.

Even when the XVII century supposed a time for economic stagnation for La Laguna, the XVIII century shows a city where culture, art and literary gathering were a current daily affair on its streets. Althoug the XIX century confirmed the loss on importance of a city that cannot face an emerging of Santa Cruz de Tenerife that took for itself all type of administrative functions, La Laguna kept its status as cultural city with the creation of the first Secondary School for the whole Canary Islands. In addition, the Normal School of Teachers, the faculties of Philosophy, Theology and Laws and the establishment of the Bishopric maintained its ecclesiastical and educational preponderance.

In the first half of the XX century, the city began to grow. In the 60’s, the city had around 50.000 inhabitants and nowadays there are more than 150.000 inhabitants. The end of the XX century brings a big piece of new for all the lovers of culture and history, after years of hard work and historical research, the city was declared World Heritage by the UNESCO. This fact will change the course of our city. Not only benefits but also a lot of responsibilities came from such a declaration and all this derived on great improvements for La Laguna. Besides the noticeable aesthetic and urban amelioration on buildings, tourism became increasingly important.

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