The artificial lake in the Plaza de España – popularly known as the puddle – has become a meeting place in the centre of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. You do some shopping on Calle Castillo and at the end of the day you sit on one of its edges to chat with friends and contemplate the reflections in the form of drops of water under the lights that cover the square.

The project of the Swiss architects Herzog and De Meuron was chosen to remodel the Plaza de España during the years 2006, – 2008, not without lack of criticism and much controversy. The Monument to the Fallen ceased to be the centre of attention of this emblematic site of the capital, to leave in its place the lake and the vertical gardens of the new adjoining pavilions.

In the end, one gets accustomed and finds the charm that at first did not perceive. If we see photographs of the before and after, we do not think the change is so bad and now the square is more modern, accessible. Critics say the past was better, but if we must talk about the past, it was a serious place in 1929 than it is in the 21st century.

The name of the main street that leads to the square and the layout of black lines on the bottom of the lake indicate that here was once a castle. The first and the main defensive of the bay of Santa Cruz. We speak of the Castillo de San Cristóbal, which was built in 1577 and demolished in 1928 to be replaced by the Plaza de España, as part of the urban expansion of the city.

View of the square towards the mountains. Photo: Diego Delso

In 2006, during the remodelling, remains of the old castle appeared and it was decided to create an underground gallery. In the Interpretation Center of the Castle of San Cristóbal we can contemplate the remains of the wall and understand the role the castle played, along with the rest of the fortifications of the bay of Santa Cruz, in the defence of Tenerife. Since 2009 you can also see the famous Tigre Canyon,

After learning of the existence of San Cristóbal, the Plaza is not seen with the same eyes. It is difficult to imagine a castle, but we can reflect on the history of Tenerife in the first centuries after the conquest, the defensive role of Santa Cruz and the ideal that chicharreros defend: a city open to the sea.

For more info on Tenerife read the Red Queen Musings everyone’s favourite Tenerife Blog
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