The centre of La Orotava is officially classed as a historic-artistic and monumental site. With its wealth of heritage sites, it is one of Tenerife's must-sees. La Orotava has two historic quarters: Villa de Abajo (the Lower Town) and Villa de Arriba (the Upper Town), which visitors can walk around to discover the city's rich tradition and culture. As night falls, the lighting enhances the majestic grandeur of its buildings.
The social-economic divide of the past led upper-class families to build their homes in Villa de Abajo, while the lower classes settled in the area of Farrobo or Villa de Arriba. The route we recommend explores both areas. It starts at Calle San Francisco, where the first stop is the San Francisco church and the Santísima Trinidad hospital, which were erected where the former San Lorenzo convent stood before it was consumed by fire. The only vestiges are a sculpture of the saint and the portico that now guards the entrance to the hospital.
From here, follow Calle del Colegio and Calle Carrera, with their various stately homes that belonged to the families who managed much of the wealth in the Orotava Valley, where each door bears the corresponding coat of arms. Among them are Casa Benítez de Lugo, Casa Molina and Casa Franchy. Special mention should be made of Casa Fonseca, also known as Casa de los Balcones, which dates back to the mid 17th century. The baroque style house of Casa de los Balcones is a magnificent example of traditional island architecture, with its stonework, its wooden balconies and its magnificent inner courtyard. Today, the building houses a craft shop.
The next stop is the Town Hall square. This is where the most important sand carpet is laid during the local festivities to celebrate the Corpus Christi. Not far from there is the Hijuela del Jardín Botánico, a plant nursery linked to the wonderful botanical gardens in the nearby municipality of Puerto de la Cruz. Calle Apolinar, more popularly known as Calle de la Hoya, marks the boundary between Villa de Abajo and Villa de Arriba or the Farrobo neighbourhood. There are a number of stately homes here too, such as the house of the Marquis of la Quinta Roja, with its extraordinary Canarian-style inner courtyard, and Casa Ascanio, an early 20th century mansion on Calle San Agustín. The first part of this route ends at Plaza de la Constitución, by the church and convent of San Agustín, both dating from the 17th century.
Leave the square behind you and carry on along the streets of Colegio, Tomás Pérez, Cólogan, Iglesia, Zerolo and Viera, all of which feature outstanding examples of Canarian architecture. The journey ends at the Nuestra Señora de la Concepción church, which was declared a National Artistic-Historic Monument in 1948. You can take an interesting tour of the church to explore both the outside, with its two bell towers and high cupola, and the inside, which is divided into three richly and artistically decorated naves. Around the church you will find a network of cobbled streets with yet more stately homes, such as those of Valcárcel, Mesa, Benítez de Lugo and Casa Franchy, as well as the convent and church of Santo Domingo.