A hotel for art enthusiasts:
HACIENDA DE ABAJO, La Palma Island, Canary Islands, Spain
Nestled in the historic quarter of Tazacorte on the island of La Palma, the most important agricultural area in the Canary Islands, the Hotel Hacienda de Abajo is the result of the meticulous restoration of a seventeenth-century sugar plantation estate. What’s more, its uniqueness has been officially honored by its classification as the first emblematic hotel in the Canary Islands.
The hotel is surrounded by a landscape of lush and rich vegetation, embraced by a coastline lapped by an ocean of pure and intensely blue waters and blessed with a warm and sunny climate with profusely starry nights. And here in this blissful environment, a series of buildings that were the hub of prosperous trade between Flanders, Andalusia and the West Indies, today featuring valuable artistic collections and splendid gardens of botanical rarities, open their doors to give the most enthusiastic welcome to you, the guest.
It was in Tazacorte where the Castilian conquerors landed in 1492 and built the first settlements in the Aridane Valley, as this was the location of the most fertile lands, the Tazacorte River and La Caldera, the only watercourse, and a coastline that provided accessible communications with overseas. Sugarcane soon became the main crop of the Hacienda de Abajo, located in Tazacorte, which is the first, the oldest, the richest and the most productive sugar plantation in La Palma, as evidenced by Professor Jesús Pérez Morera.
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
Hotel Hacienda de Abajo inside a walled enclosure of four buildings distributed around an interior garden, where formerly the orchard of the estate was located.
The old “Casa Principal de Tazacorte” was subjected to an attentive restoration from 2010 to 2012 by the architect Mrs. María del Carmen Aleman García, who, after the excision of unfortunate architectural additions, has allowed it to regain its original appearance. This two-floors rectangular house, includes two roofs of arabic tile and an exceptional stove for drying cochineal, and, as well as the other stately homes of the old hacienda, presents a balcony-corridor open to the West, while from the opposite façade the garden of the farm could be contemplated. A body of two floors with balconies and two towers were added to it, which – with magnificent view of the sea and crops. We can highlight the estately and almost militar character of these ancient residences, where, as the traditional canarian architecture goes, new needs are satisfied by adding to the primitive construction, usually arranged in linear, successive bodies making such edifications L or U-shaped.
At the same time, the buildings of new construction surrounding the House respected the original layout of the sugar estate and the building typology in the area, where domestic architecture is harmoniously integrated in a landscape where the dominance of the sugar cane had been replaced with the banana since the end of the 19th century. One of them is a two-floored housing covered of arabic tiles and open balconies, while the other two are one floor buildings, also with covers of arabic tiles. One of them hosts a small chapel that recreates the chapels in the old estates and the other, a luxurious bath house.
Doors, windows and other architectural elements used in the façades and interiors of these buildings are, to a great extent, copies from the 17th to the 19th century saved from destruction, and they represent the best collection formed in the Canary Islands in recent years. This reflects a very common practice in the Canary Islands architecture, as it was the reuse of woods, stones and ashlars of demolished buildings to use in new constructions. This is just another proof of sustainable architecture that knows the value of scarce – and therefore valuable – natural resources.
In fact, having the best collection of tapestries of the Canary Islands, French and Flemish pieces from the 16th to the 18th centuries; a valuable picture gallery with works from the 15th to the 20th centuries; sculptures, furniture and Chinese porcelain from the Tang to the Qing dynasty; European furniture from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries; delicate religious carvings from the 16th to the 19th centuries and all sorts of other sumptuary items make this hotel a reference in the artistic panorama of the islands, where every corner becomes a gratifying surprise for any lover of art and evokes a bygone era in which the inhabitants of this estate were surrounded of the most exquisite art objects, thanks to the trade, from Europe, America and, coming through the Philippines, Asia.
The former walled orchard of the hacienda stretched from behind the Casa Principal of Tazacorte to the present-day Casa Massieu. In addition to vegetables, there were trees (fig, orange, lemon, quince, blackberry, etc.) and banana plantations, the first ever in La Palma and which were first recorded back in 1613.
Today, the hotel gardens – located on the former orchard of the hacienda – feature exotic plants and botanical rarities, as well as Canarian native species, spread across two asymmetrical areas of ornamental parterres, with pergolas, fountains, a pond and benches, as well as a swimming pool similar to the bygone ponds that were used for irrigation yet had a clear decorative function. Akin to the ruins that adorned European gardens, there’s what appears to be an old sugar mill, as Juan Manuel de Silva painted in the eighteenth century, but which is now the hotel’s modern equipment room.
In one of the best climates on Earth, trees, shrubs, flowers and plants of all climates intermingle to form one of the typical botanical gardens of yesteryear that popularized rare plant species from America and Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and which today delight visitors with stunning views and the warmth of an exceptional climate.
Water of extraordinary quality flowing from the springs and galleries of La Caldera de Taburiente National Park arrives to water the gardens through a modern irrigation network that uses ancient watercourses and aqueducts. This is yet another example of the enterprising idiosyncrasy of an island where humans live in perfect harmony with luxuriant nature.
In one of the best climates of the earth, trees, shrubs, flowers and plants of all climates are mixed to form one of those ancient gardens of acclimatization which contributed to the spread of rare plant species from America and Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries and that today makes the delight of visitors who enjoy the warmth of an exceptional climate in a unique environment.
Water of extraordinary quality, from the springs and the galleries of the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, reaches our garden through a modern network of irrigation using ditches and ancient aqueducts in another sign of the daring idiosyncrasy of an island in which man lives in perfect harmony with a highly productive nature.
With an incomparable view over the Atlantic Ocean, the hotel features a unique restaurant, El Sitio, exquisite in its content and in its gastronomic offer, where unique and innovative flavors, intoxicating aromas and subtle nuances merge in a cuisine that combines the ancient local cuisine with rich and elaborate international influences.
The chromatic splendor in the sumptuous rooms enhances a rich collection of art that includes amazing lamps, delicate porcelains of the East Indian Company, rare furniture, exquisite watches and a stylish tapestry giving the best testimony of the refined lifestyle of the 17th and 18th centuries.
As an addition, daily lunch and dinner are warm romantic moments in the restaurant that, along with its café-bar, becomes from half past seven in the morning until late at night, and on its own merits, in a meeting point for the local society and our distinguished guests.
In our restaurant we welcome each season with a renewed menu including new and original dishes, as always with fresh products of our land. You are cordially invited to visit our gastronomic novelties while enjoying the refinement of the decoration in combination with the pleasure of good food.