Santa Cruz, Tenerife was the fourth stop on our P&O Christmas Cruise aboard the good ship Ventura. I must admit to having carried out very little research on what we might see at each port of call, rather assuming that the Canary Islands would be more of a T-shirt & sun tourist destination rather than one for the history buff… but just how wrong could I be!
Historical Military Museum of the Canary Islands
Visible from the ship was the Historical Military Museum of the Canary Islands. It contained an impressive of artifacts with special emphasis on Spain and the Canary Islands. Entrance to the museum is free, but do note that the opening hours [at the time of writing] are 10:00am to 2:00pm.
Dee and I took spent a good 2 hours 30 minutes for our visit, including a short drink break at the onsite cafe with impressive harbour views.
Royal Navy Attack
Back in time and on 22nd July 1797 the Royal Navy led by Rear-Admiral Nelson, as he then was, unsuccessfully attacked Santa Cruz. Although a strong shore party manged to land and the town was captured the fortifications held out and inflicted sufficient casualties that a truce was negotiated. The terms of the truce allowed the Navy to withdraw – including the shore party part – in return for a promise that the town would not be burned and that no more attacks would be made on the Canary islands.
This is also the attack in which Nelson lost his arm.
One room of the museum is dedicated to this attack and each year on the anniversary of the attack a local festival is held.
Interestingly the fort was built as a result of the abortive Royal Navy attack of 1797. By the time the fort was completed advances in coastal artillery rendered it obsolete for its original purpose, regardless it has (thankfully) survived into the 21st Century to house the aforementioned military museum.
Castle De San Juan Bautista
About a mile along the seafront promenade from the cruise terminal we find the Castle De San Juan Bautista. It is,of course, not a castle at all but an artillery fort for the defence of Santa Cruz (Tenerife). There doesn’t seem to be very much information readily available on the net, but Wikipedia tells us that it was the second most important defence fort and that it was built between 1641 and 1644, with a rebuild in 1765.
The ‘castle’ is a museum and opened to the public but sadly on the day we visited it was closed, regardless it was well worth the [very pleasant] mile or so walk to see it.
Battery De San Francisco
As a complete contrast to the well preserved Castle De San Juan Bautista, we also had the remains of the Battery De San Francisco. As may be seen from the photographs it’s a ruin with just some parts remaining. I have no knowledge of what the plans are for this site, but it was encouraging to see an information panel for visitors.
Dee and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Santa Cruz (Tenerife), the town was interesting, the military history superb and the folk friendly and welcoming. We were even treated to a final memorial to the Spanish Cruise Canarias as we returned to the cruise terminal.
I dedicate this page to my lady Dee who without fail shows interest in my hobby and is always supportive……
Thanks Princess! Love ya lots…