Santa Cruz de La Palma

Welcome to Santa Cruz de La Palma, the capital of La Palma island! Boasting a population of around 15,000, this charming city is the island’s second-largest, after Los Llanos de Aridane. Radiating a romantic and serene ambiance, Santa Cruz de La Palma holds the distinction of being designated as a Cultural Heritage site in the category of Historical-Artistic Ensemble.

santa cruz de palma

Santa Cruz de La Palma: Dive into the most enchanting historic and artistic charm of La Palma island

Located on the eastern side of La Palma, Santa Cruz is nestled within a bay shielded from winds and houses the island’s main commercial port. The city enjoys a gentle climate throughout the year. However, its skies frequently remain overcast, influenced by the trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean.

This thriving city owes its prosperous economy to its pivotal role in trade, serving as a primary channel for the inflow and outflow of import and export products. From the city’s southern end, the airport is conveniently accessible via a highway. The commercial area, marked by two streets parallel to the shoreline, starts at the port’s edge.

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What to See in Santa Cruz de La Palma

Historic Center of Santa Cruz de La Palma

Renowned for its rich Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical artistic and architectural heritage. Notable attractions include Plaza de España with the El Salvador church, the City Hall, the Calle Real street, the San Francisco temple, the former Dominican convent which now serves as the Insular Museum, and the Santo Domingo church. Remnants of fortifications like the Castillo de Santa Catalina and San Fernando still stand. Don’t miss out on exploring the charming neighborhoods of San Telmo and San Sebastián, filled with historic buildings.

san salvador chirch la palma

Balconies of Santa Cruz de La Palma

Unique double balconies face the sea, located at the rear of houses along Avenida Maritima. Their design, influenced by the Portuguese and Arabian styles, offers cooling during hot days. Intriguingly, houses in La Palma also feature backyards equipped with toilets that directly lead to the Atlantic, a historically significant feature.

santa cruz de la palma old balcony

Barco de la Virgen

A naval museum in the picturesque Plaza de La Alameda, the Barco de la Virgen pays homage to the island’s maritime tradition. Constructed in the image of Christopher Columbus’s renowned Santa Maria, it houses a plethora of artifacts and information about the island’s naval history and the Virgin of Las Nieves celebrations.

Virgen de Las Nieves

This sanctuary is dedicated to the patron saint of La Palma island, whose festivity is celebrated every 5th of August. The Marian image of the Virgen de Las Nieves, enthroned behind the main altar, holds the distinction of being the oldest in the Canaries and the second-oldest devotion in the archipelago, only preceded by the Virgen de Candelaria (patron saint of the Canaries) in Tenerife.

Set amidst a beautifully serene natural environment, the sanctuary adopts the architectural style of the Palmeras hermitages. The main chapel stands tall, featuring a half-barrel vault separated by a toral arch. The oldest preserved document bearing the name “Santa María de las Nieves” dates back to January 23, 1507.

The statue of the Virgin, hailing from the period of the first evangelizers post the island’s conquest in 1493, is a terracotta, polychrome sculpture transitioning from the late Romanesque to Gothic style. Adorned with luxurious fabrics and embellished with numerous jewels, it measures 82 cm in height.

Descent of the Virgin

The unmissable star event of La Palma. The sanctuary serves as one of the primary venues for the Lustrales Festivities of Santa Cruz de La Palma, a Festival of National Tourist Interest. Every 5 years since 1680, a procession sees the transfer of the Virgen de Las Nieves’ image from its hillside sanctuary to the city. This tradition started as a plea from the parishioners for the Virgin to intervene during times of misfortune on the island. Known as the Fiesta de la Bajada, this celebration draws tourists and devotees over a month, filling the city streets with diverse sacred and secular festivities, culminating on the day the Virgin is paraded through the city.

harbor santa cruz de la palma
santa cruz de la palma calle real

Santa Cruz de La Palma Beach

A peaceful urban beach located at the heart of the island’s capital. Encircled by the city’s vibrant and historic architecture, this volcanic black sand beach offers a laid-back and familial setting, perfect for a sun-soaked day by the sea.

History of Santa Cruz de La Palma

Santa Cruz de La Palma was established on May 3, 1493, under the name Villa de Apurón by Francisco Fernández Lugo.

The city’s port, the last on the route to America, allowed for the rapid growth of the city, exporting the sugar cane produced on the island. In 1553, the city was destroyed by the pirate François Le Clerc, also known as Pata de Palo, leading to its reconstruction and fortification.

In 1558, Philip II established the first Court of the Indies in Santa Cruz. As a result, all Spanish ships traveling to the American colonies had to register at this court. Moreover, the city has the honor of having the first democratically elected town hall in Spain, originally located in the Cueva de Carías, in the north of the city.

In 1773, the city also celebrated the first popular elections in all of Spain after a lawsuit against the city’s perpetual councilors, led by the merchant of Irish origin Dionisio O’Daly and Anselmo Pérez de Brito. They obtained a favorable resolution from the Crown of Castile.

This city has a fascinating history, marked by its significance in trade and politics during the colonial era. Come and explore this city full of rich history and culture. Take the opportunity to visit the historic center of the city through a guided free tour.

How to get to Santa Cruz de La Palma

BY CAR

Santa Cruz is located in the center of the east side of the beautiful island. You can get there from the north via the main Lp1 road, from the south via the Lp2, and from the west via the Lp3 road.

It lacks public parking, however, the most well-known free parking spots in Santa Cruz de la Palma are located in the southern area next to the roundabout at the city entrance, next to the Port and in the northern area on Avenida de Las Nieves. In the summer, a few parking spaces are also made available in the Barranco de las Nieves.

To ensure a parking spot, you have the option to pay by leaving your car in the large parking lot on Avenida del Puente.

BY BUS

You can reach the city from almost any point on the island. Check here how to get around La Palma. Once you land at La Palma airport, you can take a taxi or bus number 500, which runs hourly, to get to your final destination. Both the taxi and the bus will get you to Santa Cruz de La Palma in no time.

Santa Cruz de la Palma Canary island

RECOMMENDED EXCURSIONS ON LA PALMA

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