optional as bike tour

Only a few of twelve fortresses with a total of ninety two canons of different sizes that once served to defend the town of Santa Cruz de Tenerife are still existing, being the best kept the castle of San Juan whose construction begun in the year 1641.

  • Sightseeing (2 hours)
Commonly known as the black castle due to its situation in the bay of blacks, it is built to a circle with ashlar masonry and artillery. It can be considered as the second eldest of fortresses erected to defend the harbor following the castle of San Cristóbal. Its construction was planned in 1619 because of the large distance between the main castle and the castle of San Juan. Urgency required at first only the building of a cube. Nevertheless it took six year to finish. Works were carried out under supervision of Luis Fernando de Córdoba (1638 – 1644).

In 1573 begun the construction of the castle San Cristóbal within a stone’s throw of an anterior bulwark, at same place as the chapel of Our Lady of Consolation. It went into service on 20ᵗʰ of January 1577 and was the first fortress of matter on the island. Before end of century it was subject to reforms and received visit of the famous military engineer Leonardo Torriani, who considered it acceptable but recommended the monarch to situate two more fortresses at its flanks.
This castle and the one of San Andrés as well as the powder depot was handed over to the town’s administration in 1926 and disappeared in 1929 when the square of España was re remodeled.
sSSince 2008 parts of its basements are to be seen in an subterranean museum together with the canon El Tigre that according to legends cut Admiral Nelson’s right arm when he attacked Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

The project to fortify Paso Alto formed part of a defense plan proposed by engineer Leonardo Torriani. At first only a mobile artillery platform, later it converted into a small fortress and only in 1670 into a castle. It was a center part during two attacks suffered by Santa Cruz de Tenerife...

When admiral Robert Blake, attacked the town on 30ᵗʰ of April 1657 this fortress received major damage, not because of bursting charge but due to rocks that fall off the nearby cliffs.
It can be considered as second in importance to defend the harbor. Its fabric was of two floors, the lower one housed accommodation of troops, armory, powder depot and stables, the upper one the commander’s and officer’s rooms, kitchen, storage and guard. In the year 1774 caused stronger damage as the attack by H. Nelson, although in this case a canonball hit the armory. In 1951 En la superior, el alojamiento del alcalde y oficiales, cocina, despensa y cuerpo de guardia. In 1951 the port authority required parts of the castle to enlarge a road and unify the harbor’s three embankments. It was even thought to tear it down completely but never done. Served as military museum before this was installed in the Almeida
The bay of San Andrés was usually used as shelter for ships but also frequented by pirates that not only replenished water supplies but also attacked other ships staying there.
In several occasions pirates went ashore and enforced the local population. There was also the possibility to land, cross the mountains and lance an attack on Santa Cruz by surprise. Enough reason to build a small fortress to tie up these activities and to protect the neighboring harbor.
Late in 1896 water and mud flow of the nearby canyon hollowed out basements and cracked walls, causing later half of the fortress to collapse, as it is still to be seen.
In 1926 the fortress was handed over to the municipal government.
The poder depot (1756 – 1758)
As there was a necessity of a place to store powder the military engineer Francisco de la, at this moment resident in Santa Cruz de Tenerife constructed the powder depot close by the castle of San Juan. One single floor, vault, walls reinforced by strong counterforts. Its situation right on seafront, however converted it in easy target of ship artillery. Therefore a breastwork was added, consisting of a heavy haunch in its northern and eastern flanks continuing in the south and west by a slimmer wall.
The The building was handed over to the municipal administration in 1926 combined with the castles of San Cristóbal and San Andrés, the haunch has been torn down, leaving the building by its own, waiting for future use.

In the year 1656 a wall was erected to protect the seafront of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, financed by court and local neighbours. The Wall was a breastwork of soil and walls of stones or clay following the ground’s shape. Still there are parts of it to be seen..

Furthermore there were some batteries as “the curtain” between the castle of San Miguel and the fortress of Paso Alto, situated at a kilometers distance of the town and at fifty meters of the shore. It dominated the area between the canyons of Almeida and Tahodio. To the right of the last was the battery of Santa Teresa, of circled shape. Projected by chief engineer Coronel Fausto Caballero and constructed between the years 1788 and 1789 by Tenerife’s defense authority.
The battery of Santo Domingo was situated back to the castle of San Cristóbal.
The battery of Rosario dates to 1669 and was situated half way between this castle and the bulwark of San Pedro, in the Centre part of the shore of Almeida. On the right side of the Aleida canyon had been built the battery of San Rafael the same way as the battery Santa Teresa, but in triangle shape. Further away, close to the shore of Valleseco was the battery of San Antonio and half way between the castle of San Juan and the battery of Barranco Hondo there was the battery of the crossing. None of them exists anymore

Military Museum
The museum is housed in the former castle of Almeida, in the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Constructed after the attack of admiral H. Nelson, which had shown some insuffencies on the northern and western flanks of the town. Works begun in 1859 and finalized in 1884, when modern military made obsolete these defenses.
The museum opened its doors on 25ᵗʰ of July 1988. On a Surface of more than nine hundred square meters it materializes the military history of the Canary Islands and specifically Tenerife, a scale layout of the battle of 25ᵗʰ of July 1797, flags, light and heavy weapons, maps and so on