The island’s original capital was founded by Alonso Fernández de Lugo in 1496 shortly after he had defeated the native Guanches. San Cristóbal de La Laguna (its full title) was the capital of the Canary Islands until 1833, when that title was transferred to the neighbouring port of Santa Cruz. Nowadays, it is a busy university town that is physically attached to its larger neighbour.
Unesco World Heritage Site
While the outer parts of the town are nothing special, the historic centre of the town is very well preserved and in 1999 was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The town centre boasts multiple splendid 16th century palaces, mansions as well as religious buildings. The lower part of the historic centre is said to be the first city planned a round a grid system and the model for many of the Latin America’s colonial cities.
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios
Although the town’s neoclassical Cathedral dates from the early 20th century, there has been a church on the same site since 1515 and it still contains the remains of the islands conqueror, Alonso Fernández de Lugo.
Curiously, La Laguna almost became the capital of the Spanish Empire in 1810 when a plan was contingency plan was drawn up to transfer the governance of the Spanish territories to La Laguna should Cadiz fall to Napoleon.