The Historic Quarter of San Miguel
San Miguel is one of Tenerife's southern municipalities that will win you over with its simplicity and charm from bygone days. Its historic quarter has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in the Historic Site category and, in architectural terms, it is the best-kept town centre in the south of Tenerife. You will get the impression you are inside one of those old black and white photos, only you will see all of its wonderful colours.
The historic quarter spans from the church of San Miguel Arcángel along the old royal road, which is now known as Calle de La Iglesia, all the way to El Calvario and la Casa del Capitán, on the outskirts of the centre. You can start your tour at the church, which was built in the 18th century to save the locals from making the long journey to the nearest church to pray. Inside, there are a number of religious statues and images that will take you back to distant times.
Near to the church square you will see a number of traditional buildings, including the Municipal Library. Since it was built 200 years ago, the building has been used as a prison, a town hall, a primary school and an academy. Discover the house where the Illustrious anthropologist, ethnographer and historian Juan Bethencourt Alfonso was born. His work proved internationally important in understanding the Guanche culture.
On the north side of the church of San Miguel, you will see the old water fountains that supplied the town with drinking water up until well into the 20th century. Carry on down Calle de la Iglesia and you will pass a number of one- and two-storey buildings dating from the 18th to the 20th century, representing significant samples of the area's traditional architecture and of the classicism that became widespread on the Island for much of that time. Particularly grand and interesting were the houses owned by the Alfonso and Calzadilla families. The former is a country estate-style house set against a distinctly urban backdrop. The house of the Calzadillas stands out for its sheer size, flat rooftops and asymmetrical openings on the façade.
As you come to the end of the street, the 18th century Casa del Capitán (Captain's House) is a worthy sight. This large country house has been turned into the History and Ethnography Museum. Explore its inner patio and take in its spotless décor, or visit the wine cellar and winery.
By now, you will no doubt have spotted the unusual sky-blue building that houses the town hall and is naturally known as the Casa Azul (the Blue House). It owes its exotic Brazilian style to the fact the owner was a Canarian man who spent a long time living in Brazil. This was the first building in the municipality to use concrete. Don't miss the chance to visit the old well which is currently used as an exhibition hall, where the huge pillars that hold up the house are exposed for you to see.
Once you come to the crossroads where Calle de la Iglesia meets the road towards Los Abrigos, you will see the Casa Cuatro Esquinas (the Four Corners House), a modest building with just one storey and a basement. After being used as an inn and a private house, it now houses the Tourist Information Centre and the busy El Puente Cultural Space. It is considered an Asset of Cultural Interest.