The church of La Concepcion in La Orotava
A historic monument in northern Tenerife
The origin of this church dates back to 1516 when a chapel was built that has since been extended several times, where the proclamation ceremony for Charles V was held on 22 June 1516. Unfortunately, the terrible earthquakes that shook the Island in 1704 and 1705, caused by the Güímar volcano, left it in a state of disrepair.
The building we see today was began in 1768 and ended in 1788. The church received significant financial support from a number of emigrants, especially those residing in Cuba, who were known as Indianos. The church was declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument on 18 June 1948.
The two bell towers rising 24 m (78 feet) are set back on either side of the façade. Standing out over the top is the solemn lantern tower comprised of 16 faces, which appears to be octagonal because of its eight windows. Over it rises the dome, topped by a Neoclassical cupola.
Inside, its three vast naves are lined with powerful Ionic-based columns crowned by Corinthian capitals, each with different adornments.
Presiding over the main chapel is a monumental tabernacle, one of the most important in the Canary Islands, a Genoese piece from 1823 made of marble and jasper from the workshop of Giuseppe Gaggini (1791-1867).
The pulpit was made of those same materials in the same workshop.
Of the six altarpieces housed in the church, special mention should be made of the La Concepción piece by Francisco Acosta Granadilla at the top of the Evangelio nave, which was also produced in the same atelier.
The statue of La Inmaculada Concepción is an Italian piece by Angelo Olivari (from the first half of the 19th century).
In the chapel that tops the epistle nave, the most important figure of the altarpiece shows the Señor Predicador (Lord Preacher) and is the work of Blas García Pulido from 1667.
Other noteworthy figures include: San Juan Evangelista, María Magdalena, La Dolorosa by Luján Pérez, and San Pedro Apóstol, one of the prize pieces by Fernando Estévez from La Orotava.
In terms of paintings, its most significant heritage are the oil paintings: Entierro de Cristo and Ecce Homo, two 16th century mannerist works by Cristóbal Ramírez displayed in the sacristy; and La Inmaculada con San Ignacio de Loyola and San Francisco Javier, by Gaspar de Quevedo, beside the baptismal font.
Another key painting is Desposorios de la Virgen con San José, by the Orotavan painter Cristóbal Hernández de Quintana, at the end of the epistle nave.
The Parish Museum contains a very extensive array of precious metal craftsmanship, including: Las Andas de Baldaquino para el Corpus, by Damián de Castro, the Gothic-Manueline style monstrance from the 16th century, which was made in Córdoba, and another rococo-style monstrance by Damián de Castro from around 1768, which was commissioned by the bishop of the Canary Islands Francisco Xavier Delgado Venegas.
The pulpit contains outstanding carvings by the Tenerife-born artist Rodríguez de la Oliva. The craftsmanship involved in making the silver procession platform that bears the figures representing the Holy Burial during the Easter celebrations has led it to be considered one of the finest pieces of silverware in the Canary Islands. The sacristy preserves the procession platform of the Corpus, which was made by Damián de Castro from Córdoba, who is also the author of other pieces that survive to this day.
The Logman brothers spent their priesthood in this church and bequeathed it with valuable works of art such as the beautiful monstrance that is now known as The Logman Monstrance. The church's masterpiece is considered by many to be the chapel of Los Carta, in the ante-sacristy. Its construction was commissioned by captain Matías Rodríguez Carta in the 18th century and was dedicated to San Matías.
The altarpiece is wonderfully ornate, belonging to the Baroque Churrigueresque style. Presiding over the main altar is a magnificent figure of La Inmaculada Concepción by the Orotavan artist Fernando Estévez. The altarpiece is one of the most elegant examples of the Baroque style in Tenerife. This church preserves one of the finest pieces of sacred art on the Island: El Cristo del Buen Viaje, dating from the 17th century, along with other highly valuable elements such as the work of the Canarian religious painters Miguel Arroyo, Luján Pérez, Rodríguez de la Oliva, González de Ocampo and Fernando Estévez.
In terms of paintings, the church houses two lovely canvases by Juan de Miranda, as well as other anonymous works. Moreover, the church has a considerable collection of musical pieces and an organ that was made in London in 1862.