La Orotava has to be my favourite city in Tenerife. This picturesque town is situated north of the island and boasts charming, Canarian architecture some as early as the 17th century. Walking down the narrow-cobbled streets I travelled back in time, to Canarian life, centuries ago. The smell of coffee and baked goods enticed me to follow, leading to the little artisan coffee shops with outdoor seating, that are well used by local families and friends, soaking up the glorious sunshine. As you will see upon visiting, Orotava residents love to keep their city immaculate. I found colourful flower beds dotted all over the city and hand-painted signs directing me from a beautiful house to a beautiful house. One of the most magnificent houses, and the most popular for visitors, is La Casa de Los Balcones (house of Balconies). The House is well advertised, but if you do struggle to find your way, ask one of the friendly locals as they will proudly point out the crown jewels of their hometown.
The three-floor mansion was built in 1670 by the best Canarian carpenters of all time. The estate is owned by Mr. Carlos Schönfeldt Machado, an inspirational man who is dedicated to promoting traditional Canarian culture and has been doing, for the last 50 years.
On approaching the house, I was impressed by the thought that had gone into the design from the start. The heavy, dark pine contrasted the delicate floral design on the forged iron bars over the windows. The first room from the entrance is the gift shop and ticket desk. Here I purchased an audio guide (Highly recommended) in my chosen language for €1 and was directed to the ‘snail-like’ spiral staircase. Inside were a few perfectly preserved room exhibits; The Living quarters, Kitchen, Bathroom, and Dining room. The only room in the house that wasn’t in its original location was the bedroom, that’s furniture was moved to another, more accessible room. However, the audio guide explained the room is a replica of the bedroom with all the original furniture. Next, I went down the stairs to the wine press room. I was shocked at the size of the winepress, and I could imagine the large quantities of fruity Canarian wine that could be produced and enjoyed by the family and friends.
Following the wine cellar is the grand courtyard. This area was full of exotic plants relaxing water features and the pièce de résistance – The astounding central balcony.
The outdoor area was spectacular. I sat back and listened to the birds singing and the trickle of the water features, as the sun beamed down on the architectural masterpiece. The carving of this heartwood pine is so intricate, it’s no surprise why the locals are so proud to have this building open to the public for so long. After a long time of sitting in the courtyard, I made my way to the final room. The Craft studio. In this room, you can see all the traditional handmade products, made lovingly by local artists. Wicker basketry, lacemaking, pottery, and little dolls wearing old customary clothing are just a few of the things you’ll find in this room.
Final Thoughts- AMAZING! Not to be missed. It was a delight to visit and the audio guide was very informative. The museum will make anyone fall in love with the Canary Islands. You can buy tickets there or online at https://casa-balcones.com/en/ …. Enjoy.
Written by Charlotte Taylor