Did you know that Tenerife was once split up into 9 small kingdoms and each area had its own ruler or King for that part of the island? Over the years, my numerous travels to Tenerife have entailed finding out more about the history of the island and what makes this place so special.
The rulers were known as Menceyes and today you can see their statues which are carved from stone, in the town of Candelaria. Their tall figures and names, each standing noble and looking protectively onto the Basilica of Candelaria.
My experience will give you a little taster of some history and it will also show you a Tenerife that has a sacred place attached to it. Today it still remains a top tourist attraction for visitors from around the world. You don’t need to be religious to visit Candelaria as it will give you a feel of the traditions and respected values which are still admired today.
When I think of Tenerife, I have two images of this island. The first impression is hard volcanic rock which reminds me of the Guanche warriors. In opposite contrast to this thought, you have the delicate side of the gorgeous beaches, flowers and in the north, much greenery and this puts my mind to Lady Candelaria. Both the Guanche and Lady Candelaria hold their place within the history of Tenerife and no matter where you visit on the island, they are very much respected.
The beautiful Basilica of Candelaria
My last visit to Tenerife took me to the beautiful Basilica of Candelaria (the church), which stands so elegantly within the main square of this small town. It had been over ten years since I had last visited this place and the first time was such happy emotions, intriguing where I became hooked on the story of Lady Candelaria.
Basilica of Candelaria has a stunning location, overlooking the coastline. The white and brown building stands out with its pretty features and immaculately kept walls and interior. It is a beautiful church both inside and out and to visit here is something that will allow you some reflection time, tranquil and meaning.
From Santa Cruz, Basilica of Candelaria is about 12 miles south but if you are taking the bus or car from Los Cristianos or Adeje, you can expect to travel for around 40 minutes. The buses are really comfortable with air-conditioning inside so don’t be put off trying the public transport. If you do decide to go by bus, ask for information about a Bono card to save money.
Travelling here with my friend Nita who is a local lady and whom I have visited over the years, we both bought our flowers in one of the nearby shops and walked into the church. Immediately on the way into the church, it was peaceful, silent in fact but the inside was simply stunning. Looking up at the ceiling of the inside of the church, I notice the skilful craftsmanship of decoration, made of gold, white and grey. It just added more character to the interior of the building and kept me transfixed for quite some time.
As I walked down the middle aisle of the church and headed towards the front, it was nice to see the different cultures of people visiting this well known tourist attraction. A different language barrier didn’t matter at this point, as everyone had the same purpose of visiting here and that was to pay their respect, take in the beauty of the interior and gain some form of emotional connection or visual impact. Religion was not forced, promoted or pushed onto anyone. No it was purely a place where you can freely walk in and take a look around, respectfully take photographs and see some amazing architecture of this building.
Frame of gold, embedding Lady Candelaria
The Virgin of Candelaria is the patron saint of the Canary Islands and is a black Madonna. The statue consists of the Virgin holding a baby in one hand and a green candle in the other. There she sat, engulfing the church in her glory of gold surroundings and magnificent to gaze up at. Not one person could walk past Lady Candelaria without stopping to take in the full picture of her shrine and artwork surrounding her. I was transfixed at the framework and the angelic paintings, which gave the impression they were there protecting this Patron Saint of Tenerife.
Taking my time to savour this beautiful scene, I took the advantage to reflect on my past, my friendships, family and people who I love. This was my time to be thankful for what and who I had around me in my life. Cherish the moments with my loved ones.
I continued to walk with Nita around the church and then a few moments of silence for my prayer.
Basilica of Candelaria will always have a connection with me and I would strongly advise that if you travel to Tenerife for your holiday, visit here as it is free entry into the church. There are a few traditional bars or cafes to eat or just take a drink nearby so you can get a feel of the ‘real Tenerife’ here.
My recommendation is a lovely little café/bar called Dona Pata (calle Obispo Perez Caceres). It was really clean, not overcrowded and the food was perfect. It was brightly coloured with orange and lime greens and the prices were really reasonable, with excellent quality food. It is a really short walking distance from the Basilica.
The charming town of Candelaria
I loved walking around the peaceful town of Candelaria. There are a few souvenir shops where you can buy some ornaments of Lady Candelaria, medals, dolls and rosemary beads.
It has a very laid back, lazy Sunday morning feel to it and visitors pass through this town, day in, day out but it is not overcrowded or unspoilt. The people are very friendly and for me, it is a good idea to take the children so that they have an opportunity to get photographs for school projects, culture knowledge and to learn about Tenerife or the Canary Islands.
The day that I visited with Nita was a sunny day with a bit of a blustery wind from the coast when I was standing near the Menceyes statues but it was hot with beautiful blue skies.
So if you have booked your holiday to Tenerife or planning a trip here, why not take a day out from around the pool and visit the charming little town of Candelaria. Take a tapas, cold drink and a free visit to the Basilica of Candelaria. Which King Guanche will you have your photograph taken with?
Candelaria of my heart, my friend and my blessing!