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In Los Realejos Alto, the spot where the defeated Guanche kings were baptised into the Christian faith is now the earliest Christian church on Tenerife dating from 1498; the Church of Santiago Apóstol. The spire of the church has become an icon for Los Realejos and a good shot of its fairytale spire against a backdrop of azure sky and Tigaiga Mountains will provide you with the digital equivalent of a Gothic masterpiece.
On The Map
Reminiscent of an Italian mountain village, Los Realejos is sited on the slopes of the Tigaiga Mountain Range on the edge of the La Orotava Valley on the north coast of Tenerife and is a virtual recluse to the guide books, despite its impressive heritage. This is where the last of the arms-bearing Guanche kings surrendered to the Spanish conquistadores on July 25th 1496, thus relinquishing Tenerife into the hands of the Spanish government and their Christian faith.
Originally two separate villages, the town has an upper and a lower centre and its steep streets require both a non-defective handbrake and a sturdy set of thigh muscles to negotiate them.
If you like fireworks and are planning your holidays to Tenerife around May, make a note to visit the town for the dressing of the crosses on May 3rd when the two firework factories located in the municipality stage a pyrotechnic version of the gunfight at O.K. Corral resulting in a spectacular display lasting up to 3 hours. Word of advice: take a jacket. At this height above sea level, May nights can be decidedly chilly.
More spectacular sights in the sky come courtesy of the Flypa international paragliding festival which takes place over the same weekend. Four days of events include air displays, concerts involving major bands and beach parties at El Socorro beach; a spectacular setting to relax and watch the guys and girls in the silk chutes do all the dangerous stuff. (Note: Event suspended for 2012)
Head down to Los Realejos Bajo to its historic old quarter for some fine examples of traditional 16th and 17th century housing lining its steep streets and surrounding the little Plaza de la Iglesia. Look out too for the town’s collection of venerable and fabulous Drago Trees; there’s one at the entrance to the San Francisco cemetery on the road that runs down to Los Realejos Bajo and there are Los Gemelos or the twins which front the Plaza de la Iglesia.
Not to be missed on a trip to Los Realejos is its stunning coast, the most beautiful on Tenerife, where a great coastal walk will take you from the San Pedro mirador, through palm groves and past a kill-to-own-it Hacienda to the small fort of San Fernandez which defended the coast from pirate attacks.
For spectacular views, great food and a really different setting, head to El Monasterío on the hilltop near the La Orotava border. Five individual restaurants occupy the former monastery and convent of this beautifully restored monastic location, each as sinfully tempting as the next. Make it a really memorable occasion and head to El Mirador for one of their champagne breakfasts.
(+34) 922 340 707/ 922 344 311; La Montañeta; open 09.00-midnight; average cost of a main course €14
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