Tenerife is home to some of the most stunning historical architecture of the archipelago, with distinctive styles that are often combined with eye-catching effect. One of the most appealing features of the traditional building is the lavish ornamentation on the woodwork, visible in interior patios, on building facades and also evident on the painted Moorish-inspired Mudéjar (Islamic-influenced architecture) ceilings.
Influenced mainly by Portuguese and Andalucian traditional architecture, the typical Canarian house is distinctive for being practical, first and foremost. Rooms are typically built around a central patio, generally filled with flowers and water features, and ultimately designed to create an outdoor cool living space. More affluent homes will include a 2nd-floor shaded gallery, usually constructed of carved wood and supported by slender stone or wood columns. The facades are typically painted in shades of yellow, pink and ochre. Latticed shutters allow air to circulate while providing shade from the sun, and door and window frames carved out of natural stone provide a classic elegance to the facade.
Many of Tenerife’s churches and cathedrals date back to the 15th-century Gothic period, while others include Renaissance elements, such as arches and cloisters, as well as baroque facades and entrances. Look out for the elaborate Mudéjar ceilings, which combine Christian art with Moorish patterns to stunning effect. The majority of churches here have simple whitewashed exteriors creating a distinctive island look and blending in comfortably with their surroundings.
Tenerife has some truly lovely parks and green spaces, particularly around Puerto de la Cruz. The gardens here are truly diverse; some have a tangible sense of English gentility (with croquet lawns, no less), while others are more subtropical. Throughout the island the town parks are always family friendly, as well as being highly maintained and lushly landscaped with subtropical plants and the ubiquitous palms.
As in mainland Spain, parks and public gardens are an integral part of the infrastructure here and are much-loved focal points for local life. There's always plenty of shady seating, as well as playgrounds and, increasingly, exercise equipment for adults. Toilets are generally close to hand, as well as those other necessities: a cafe or bar. Some parks have bandstands where concerts take place, especially at fiesta time. Increasingly, parks are also showcasing sculpture, often contemporary, while others double as venues for art-and-craft markets.
Tenerife is home to, arguably, the most stunning botanical gardens in the Canaries. They are wonderful places to while away a few hours, with the added plus of generally ensuring plenty of natural shade.
Anaga Parque Rural
One of the most impressive green spaces on Tenerife is the stunning unspoiled Anaga mountains, a rural natural park in the northeast of the island; note that you will need your own wheels in order to do this scenic corner of the island any justice at all. Make a day of it; there are some great picnic spots here, complete with barbecue pits, playgrounds, and decent restaurants dotted about in the myriad small villages.
Museums & Art
After decades under the dictatorship of General Franco, art and culture now have a very real presence in Tenerife, and museums throughout the island showcase local works of art, as well as history, archaeology, crafts and other aspects of the lifestyle and culture here. Museums are often located in stunning historical buildings that can be just as fascinating as the exhibits.