Spotlight on Tenerife

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Over Thanksgiving, Rae went to Europe to visit her best friend, who lives in Belgium. While there, they took a girls trip to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. Her pictures and stories from the trip got us to thinking about European architecture in general, then the architecture of the Canary Islands, and then we finally settled on obsessing over the gorgeousness that is Tenerife architecture. And voila, this blog post was born. So sit back and get ready to learn all about the incredible architecture found on this tiny island. You may want to keep your wallet within reach in case the beautiful images that follow inspire you to book a European getaway.

A sunset that Rae actually saw in person. Color us jealous!

First things first, a little background on the Canary Islands is in order. They are a Spanish archipelago located off the northwestern coast of Africa. Tenerife boasts beautiful beaches, luxurious beachside resorts, and a vibrant nightlife. More than this, though (and more to our liking anyway), it has a rich architectural history inspired by the island's own history.

A stunning view from Rae's hotel

The Canary Islands feature a distinct blend of architectural styles, thanks in part to the Spanish influence on the islands. Colonization by the Spanish in the 15th century introduced Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture to the islands, with neoclassical influences arriving later, in the 18th century to be exact. Natives to the Canary Islands put their own touch on the styles brought over by the Spanish, using the materials that were available to them. For example, whitewashed and pastel-colored houses were more popular than say, the heavy stone and dark wood treatment the Spanish preferred.

Lighter colors feature in this hallway Rae saw

Today, these houses sit happily alongside Gothic churches; the cave homes of the Guanche people, who are indigenous to the islands; and a recent surge of contemporary structures, with nature serving as a beautiful backdrop to all this. In addition, a blend of Christian and Islamic art called Mudéjar forms an important part of the Canary Islands' culture.

Another gorgeous hotel view, courtesy of Rae

So why do the Canary Islands — and Tenerife in particular — boast such a high concentration of contemporary buildings, particularly for such a relatively small amount of land (for comparison, the island of Tenerife is only a fraction of the size of Rhode Island)? For starters, government officials have embraced international architecture competitions and architects are also well respected on the islands. These factors have contributed to the hybrid of the old and the new that is Tenerifian architecture today.

Let's start with the old. The oldest building on Tenerife is the Church of Our Lady of the Conception, located in the city of La Laguna. Built in 1502 by the Spanish, the building mixes neo-Gothic and neoclassical styles. The facade is neoclassical, while the main body of the church is neo-Gothic in style.

The Church of Our Lady of the Conception is a hybrid of neo-Gothic and neoclassical styles. Image via Pinterest

Now, onto the modern. The Adán Martín Auditorium is one of the most well-known architectural masterpieces on the Canary Islands. Inspired by the profile of a wave and built entirely out of concrete, the auditorium's roofline arcs 190 feet off the ground. The Magma Conference Center, designed by Fernando Menis, is another of Tenerife's must-see modern buildings. Menis designed the building to mimic the feeling, volume, and structure of a volcano.

The Adán Martín Auditorium. Image via Pinterest

So there you have it, a spotlight on the stunning architecture of Tenerife, complete with pictures from Rae's personal travels. Stay tuned for where she goes next — you never know, maybe there'll be another blog post about it!

We couldn't leave you without one last picture! Here's a beautiful flower wall Rae saw in Tenerife

Written by Amanda Barkley. Designer at Rae Duncan Interior Design

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