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Surroundings

Puerto de la Cruz is situated on the coast of the Orotava Valley, on the north-facing slopes of the Island of Tenerife, the largest island in the Canaries.

This Atlantic archipelago, lying 100 kms from Africa and 1,500 kms from the Iberian Peninsula, was known in Antiquity as the “Garden of the Hesperides” or “the Fortunate Isles”. Geologically speaking, they were formed in the Tertiary, emerging from the sea-bed as a result of a series of volcanic eruptions.

The Orotava Valley is a large depression of some 150 sq kilometres which descends as a steeply sloping ramp from the Island’s mountain ridge to the Atlantic.

The coast at Puerto de la Cruz , as in much of the north of Tenerife, drops vertically into the sea, especially around the areas of Punta Brava and Martiánez. The geographic location is what determines the town’s benign climate.

Its climate, steady and temperate throughout the year, with little fluctuation between maximum and minimum temperatures. I This phenomenon is the result of the confluence of a series of natural factors arising from its proximity to the Tropic of Cancer.

Statistics show that Puerto de la Cruz has more than 1,900 hours of sun a year. Its steppe climate is characterised by the fact that it maintains relatively high temperatures, with little variation, throughout the year, and which fluctuate between a maximum of 22 degrees Centigrade and a minimum of 15, with an annual average of 18 degrees. The relative humidity is around 75 per cent. Annual rainfall is barely 460 mm, spread over an average 75 rainy days per year.

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The City ("El Puerto")

Puerto de la Cruz, “Puerto”, as it is popularly known, is a tourist town quite different from any other. Modern and cosmopolitan, in its heart of hearts it cossets the soul of a cosy little village.

Next to the old mansions with their wooden balconies and tiled roofs, new buildings have arisen which nevertheless retain the characteristics of the traditional Canary architecture. Its pedestrian streets and quiet plazas evoke images and the essence of its recent past.

Today, the modern and the traditional coexist in harmony, presenting to the world a varied yet tasteful urban countenance, inviting and attractive.

But above all, it has been given a privileged position by Mother Nature – rooted in the fertile and invigorating Orotava Valley, at the foot of the ever-present Mount Teide.

This is the secret of the prestige it has attained and maintains: its Spring-like climate, its homely atmosphere, its tranquil streets, its liberal, hospitable inhabitants. In contrast to the majority of tourist destinations, any time of year is a good time to come and see this unrivalled little patch of Tenerife, the island appropriately known as the “Island of Eternal Spring”.

Hundreds of Europeans who return year upon year, showing an impressive loyalty kept up over decades, feel that enjoying Puerto’s air and sunshine is a comforting , unforgettable experience that they simply have to repeat.

A great admirer of the town, the Orotava writer Juan Del Castillo, said “in the Canaries, Puerto represents life, joy,..... Because coming here is always both propitious and an adventure”.

 

Local Fiestas

The fiestas are another of the town’s great attractions, besides being an unmistakeable expression of popular culture and feeling.

Firstly, we must make mention of the Carnival – held in February - which , like that of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is the most famous fiesta and of most interest to tourists. As a result of the international fame achieved by this annual celebration, Puerto de la Cruz and the German city of Düsseldorf have a Carnival exchange which has been going on for 25 years.

The Carnival, the great winter fiesta, deserves a chapter of its own. The origins of Carnival lie in the pagan festivals prior to the Christianisation of Europe. They were rituals intended to release the lowest passions and instincts of the human soul, repressed during the rest of the year. These heathen rituals were to be mingled with the religious feasts of mediaeval Italy , giving rise to Carnival, one of the most widely-accepted popular festivals in the world. The Tenerife Carnivals, just like those of PCR, have a cosmopolitan character imposed by the idiosyncrasies of the town where they are held. The festival tradition in PCR was interrupted during the years of Franco’s dictatorship , but even it was incapable of keeping at home the restless masked revellers who continued to do honour to Puerto’s festive spirit every month of February. The Carnival takes over all the town’s streets, where the townspeople immerse themselves in its delirious atmosphere. The first Carnival Pageant was held in 1910 when the recently formed Tourism Committee in collaboration with the “Arautápala” local newspaper, decided to organise a Pageant like those in the French town of Nice. In the procession, in which the townspeople of Puerto as well as the British and German communities participated, stood out above all the six floats which represented Columbus’ sailing-ships, Great Britain, the Zeppelin, a Swiss landscape, a Canary basket and a basket of flowers. The festivities started with dancing on Carnival Saturday in the Taoro Hotel and the Círculo de Iriarte and Nueva Unión social clubs which lasted until the small hours of Sunday. From that moment on, the Pageant has been repeated throughout the years. The “Murgas” – groups of all sorts of people from every area of town – rehearse their songs daily, managing to blend their many and varied voices into an ordered, enthusiastic chorus. The lyrics of their songs tend to be satirical, even scathing, and the melodies are “borrowed” from current pop songs or South American or Caribbean beats. The “Comparsas”, on the other hand, are mixed groups of dancers who take their inspiration from Rio de Janeiro’s Samba Schools . Their parades are greeted with admiring glances for the splendour of their costumes which are designed anew every year to outdo the others in the contest, to the delight of visitors. Every year the start is signalled by the Election of the Carnival Queens and Carnival ends with the symbolic Death and Funeral of the Sardine.

 

One of the local holidays with the longest tradition is the Exaltación de la Cruz [Glorification of the Cross] on the 3rd May which coincides with the commemoration of the town’s founding. On this date it is customary to adorn the Crosses and Chapels with flowers.

In June, on San Juan [Saint John’s Day], bonfires are lit and, in the harbour, flocks of goats are washed, a reminder of ancestral customs harking back to the Island’s aboriginal inhabitants.

 

In July is when the Patron Saint’s Day is celebrated in honour of the Gran Poder de Dios and Nuestra Señora de la Virgen del Carmen [the Might of God and Our Lady of Carmen]. These are the town’s major festivities. A highlight of the programme of traditional ceremonies is the Embarking of the Madonna. Worthy of mention is the International Model Aircraft show.

A curious and original celebration is the “Tin Can” Fiesta in honour of San Andrés [Saint Andrew] on 29th November when the opening of the wine cellars and the sampling of the new vintage is celebrated by dragging all kinds of metal pots and cans through the streets.

The Feast of Saint Andrew is the last one in Puerto’s festive calendar. It is celebrated on 29th November and it is related to the opening of the wine-cellars and the tasting of the new vintage. In PCR, as in the other towns and villages in the north of Tenerife, it is customary to “run with the cans”. On Saint Andrew’s Day, young and old fashion a string of cans from pots, pans and other household articles, held together with wire and wooden sticks. On occasions, a group of youths will drag even an old car chassis or domestic appliances through the streets of Puerto , causing an infernal din. The festivities are concentrated in the Plaza del Charco, where visitors can sample delicious roasted chestnuts, salted fish, and sweet potatoes washed down with the young wine to ward off the night’s chill. Throughout the night, the young ones play tricks on the unwary, tying their strings of cans to cars parked near the Plaza.

Another important event, more cultural than festive, is the Canary International Ecology and Nature Film Festival, going on for its 14th anniversary.

Fiesta
Fiesta in Spanish denotes not only “Fiesta” or festivities, but also a Public, Local or Religious Holiday, on which there may or may not be activity in the streets.