Tacoronte is a municipality in the north of the island located 21 km away from the capital, and it is the easternmost town of those forming the region of Comarca de Acentejo. Like many other municipalities, it spreads from the mountains – 1,214 metres above sea level – down to the sea along a rugged terrain formed by many ravines. The mountain area is dominated by laurel forests, a type of forest that has long disappeared from all continents, and can only be found in the Canarias, the Azores and Madeira. They were formerly known as the “Sacred Forest of Waters” due to the abundance of this natural resource.
From 400 to 800 metres above the sea level, the slopes and weather become milder; this midlands area is characterized by fertile soils perfect for farming and it is in here that the majority of the population live.
Finally, the coastal area, comprised of high cliffs. Natural grottos that were used as dwelling caves in the past by the former settlers, probably to protect themselves from potential dangers can be found in the vicinity. At the foothill of many of these cliffs, small black sand coves have formed over time – Mesa del Mar, Playa de La Arena and El Pris. The main city of the municipality is Tacoronte, located at 490m altitude; it was founded in 1496 by Sebastián Machado. At the time, it consisted only of a small core that is today known as Santa Catalina. According to available records, 342 people inhabited the town in the 16th century, but little by little, these original settlers conquered the mountains and small hubs such as San Jerónimo, San Juan, La Caridad, etc. were formed. By the late 17th century, Tacoronte had grown to 2,780 inhabitants. Nowadays, nearly 24,000 people live in the area, distributed around over 15 centres.
The mild weather, the land’s fertility and the proximity to the capital have shaped this municipality into a highly sought after area.
When visiting Tacoronte, the Santa Catalina church is a must see: being the town’s Mother Church, it is located in the foundational town centre above a small hermitage under the same name. It is a harmonious blend of architectural styles – Corinthian, Ionic, Múdejar, and is home to beautiful paintings, altarpieces, coffered ceilings and an 18th century Sanctuary of embossed silver. The altarpiece of the main chapel depicts the image of Saint Catherine of Alexandria: a polychrome wooden carving dating from the 18th century by the famous carver Luján Pérez.
The Plaza del Cristo is another highlight of this town. An extensive square named after the ecclesial complex located on the square, formed by the Santísimo Cristo de los Dolores y Agonía Sanctuary and the former convent of San Agustín. The Sanctuary was built above the hermitage of San Sebastián and completed by the end of the 18th century. It hosts a carving depicting Jesus; the image is widely worshipped in the Canarias and is known as the Christ of Tacoronte.
The church’s main façade is adorned with double columns and two quaint gargoyles, in contrast with the simply designed square convent it is connected to. The convent was closed in 1837. Nowadays, it houses the House of Culture.
The Corn Exchange – Alhóndiga in Spanish – is yet another remarkable building visitors should not miss. It was built in 1685 to store and distribute grain destined to help those in need. It currently holds cultural activities mainly related to agriculture, particularly to viticulture. This institution has boosted wine produced in Tacoronte and the Acentejo region – formed by several municipalities in the north of the island – and helped it gradually gain recognition, which eventually led to the Tacoronte-Acentejo Designation of Origin being awarded to the region in 1992, the first wine region to be granted this honour in the Canarias.
Over 6 acres of vineyards in these temperate northern lands of Tenerife make it possible to produce unique wines. Tinta Negra Mole and Listán Negro grapes are behind the majority of the highest valued red wines. White wines are primarily produced with varieties such as Listán Blanco, Malvasia, Gual and Verdello grapes. More and more people are now coming to appreciate both the white and red wines produced in this area.
Visitors can discover the exquisite wines of Tacoronte-Acentejo through a Wine Route, offering both leisure activities – gastronomic workshops, guided wine tastes, visiting marketplaces,etc. and the possibility to enjoy the beautiful views of the vineyards in this area of the island.