Like an oasis of peace and freshness, this church appeared before me on a hot day in La Gomera. San Sebastián is not a loud city, on the contrary, but after surrounding the island by car, it was amazing to walk around, the perfect way to end the day.
Let’s talk about the temple. This church was the main temple of the capital, built on the remains of an old chapel. The original building was erected in times of the first Hernán Peraza. The first years of his existence are marked by successive pirate attacks and fires, which meant that a great part of his archive disappeared. The wealth of the patrimony inside includes the coffering in Mudejar style, the renaissance boards and several images and pictorial works; the crucified Christ of Luján Pérez is outstanding.
Today’s church combines the harmony of the mudejar, gothic and baroque styles. The façade has a central body for the main entrance, made of red tuff and two lateral doors in white stone. The great change in the building happened in the middle of the 18th century, when the chapel of Pilar was built, representing the triumph of the local people over the invaders. The fresco in the wall that reflects the invasion, made by the English admiral, Charles Windhan, in 1743, is worth noticing.
San Sebastian de la Gomera is the main village on the beautiful island of La Gomera. It is the biggest settlement on the island, with about 9,000 inhabitants. It is distinguished by its beautiful colonial centre, with buildings of historical interest. This is where Christopher Colombus stopped on his way to the Americas. Among the various spots of tourist interest, you can visit the Cathedral, the Torre del Conde, built in 1447, and the Columbus Museum. Half a day should be enough to visit the town, because of its size, and don't forget that there are other beautiful places on the island.
There are two companies that run ferries between Tenerife and La Gomera, Naviera Armas and Fred Olsen. The latter runs catamarans, which can take you to the island in about 45 minutes. The large ferry from the former company is a bit slower, but much cheaper. If you like to walk, no problem, since the port is only five minutes walk from the centre of San Sebastian, and there are also buses that can take you around the island. In the centre you can do everything on foot.
Historical Monuments in San Sebastián de La Gomera
The Count's Tower is the stronghold that you see when you arrive at the island of Gomera, it is situated to the left of the port. It was built during 15th Century in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastian, to protect the city from pirates and invasions. Thehe work of Hernán Peraza the Elder was commissioned, ve performed in the mid-15th Century. There was a room that served as a refuge for the lords of the island, such as when the people rebelled. It is the oldest tower which is still standing and harks back to the time of the conquest of the Canary Islands. The military towers found in Tenerife are more recent, dating back to the time when the Canaries were still part of the Spanish crown. The tower is built in a late Gothic style, and is 15 meters high. The walls are very thick, and so resisted the attacks. The tower is whitewashed, with some apparent stones at the corners. It is a historical monument.
La Calle Ruiz de Padron runs parallel to Calle Real de San Sebastian de la Gomera. It is part of what was the old San Sebastian, as visited by Christopher Columbus in each of his three great voyages to the Americas. On the street, you can see beautiful examples of traditional Canarian architecture: yellow or white houses built on two or three floors with painted wooden balconies. There is a bar called La Tasca, which is quite popular. At the end you'll find a park with the Torre del Conde, one of the oldest monuments of the colonial city. It was a defensive fortification at the time of the conquest of the Canary Islands.
The network of paths in La Gomera is quite extensive and it offers a series of connected paths that allow you to walk in the best conditions. They are all very well signaled and easy to find. In total, there are more than 300 km of beaconed paths that are born from two paths of great route (GR; “Gran Recorrido”), registered as GR 131 and GR 132, as well as 18 paths of small route (PR, “Pequeño Recorrido”), besides a few turnoffs and secondary routes.
The good thing of La Gomera is that you can go directly from the port of San Sebastián, where the boat drops you off, to the hiking paths. Some places allow you to camp there, if not you will have to look for a rural guest house or a hotel. An extensive network of inland buses allows you to go back to San Sebastián, Valle Hermoso and the rest of the island’s towns, without having to do the entire route. For safety reasons, they recommend that you do not travel alone, or at least let somebody know which route you are going to take; however, in an island that you can cross in about 7 hours, there is little danger of getting lost.
Historical Monuments in San Sebastián de La Gomera
This house was built during the second half of the 18th Century by Miguel de Echeverria and Mayora, hidalgo Baztán Valley in Navarra, and by the militia captain Gomera. He also acted as the administrator of the estate of the Counts of La Gomera and Marquises of Adeje. Its location, situated directly opposite the main church and the unusual dimensions of this housing, reflects the high status of its owners. In the 19th Century it was divided up into two houses: Echeverria and Echeverria, which now acts as the Archaeological Museum of La Gomera. During the 20th Century, the aforementioned building had many different uses: On the ground floor there were both homes and copperware storage spaces, whilst the second floor was where the courts of the island were located. It is also known as the House of the Canyon, because of an old cannon that was embedded in the equine. The facade shields the majority of Echeverria, and is carved in wood. This is a typical house of the Canary Islands with wooden balconies, beautiful and very well maintained.
This is one of the oldest streets in San Sebastian de la Gomera. In the fifteenth century, when Christopher Columbus made a stopover here en route to America, this main street was the centre of the town. Today it's still a lively place, with small cafes and terraces. The street begins at the Plaza de la Americas, where you can find the Aguada house, which served as a customs house and residence for Christopher Columbus and his crew. Next door is the tourist office, which will help you organize your stay in La Gomera. They offer a great selection of maps. There's an exhibition inside about the discovery of America. A little further away is the church of the Virgin of the Assumption, where Columbus and his men prayed before embarking on their trip. The oldest church that you see at the end of the street is the Ermita San Sebastián. Next door is the Columbus house, which is now a museum.
This beach is situated at the foot of the mountain where you can find the Hotel Parador. It offers magnificent views over the island of Tenerife and the Teide. There are few people that visit here, and they are mostly foreign tourists. The sand is black. There is lots of sun on all the islands. The sea very rarely gets rough, but when it does you can tell. The restaurant is on the beach Charcon, opposite the Teide.
The Archaeological Museum of La Gomera, or MAG, offers a good introduction to the culture of the ancient gum trees. The information summarized in the rooms is the result of recent archaeological research, and the study of many texts dating back to the Conquest. The museum is open daily and the entry is free. The exhibits are spread over two floors of this pretty Echeverría house, which is a typical old house of the Canary Islands. The museum takes you on a journey from the past to the present. The section dedicated to archeology and heritage is located on the ground floor, and it is in great danger in Gomera, a small island where people do not respect many of the historic sites. Here you can see how the first settlers on the island came and settled here, and you can also learn about their way of life. Coming from Africa, the Guanches settled in the caves, and they speak a language similar to the Berber language which is spoken in Morocco and Algeria today. Then you can see how they used the natural resources of the island to live, magic-religious practices and symbolism they had. It ends with the conquest of the island.
This path leaves from a place called Las Casetas but you can also start it from San Sebastian. The island is very small and you can cross it on foot, it will take you about eight hours maximum. The route passes through the upper town of San Sebastián, offering great views of the villages below, which are hidden in the ravines. The crops are not as extensive as before, but it was very green, first because it was winter, and then because thanks to a clever system of dams, they now have water available the whole year round. If you want to go higher, you can get to the top of Taguluche, through the ravine Juel. Goats run off the cliff, there they make the famous cheese rubberwood. Take care as ther are also bee hives that can sting you if you bother them.
We crossed from Los Cristianos in the south of Tenerife, to go and spend a few days on the island of La Gomera. We went with the slow ferry, first because it was cheaper, and because we had our car to travel around the island. The ferry went out in the morning at about 9, and we returned a couple of days later at about 5. Crossing with Naviera Armas cost about 110 euros for two people, plus the vehicle. There's another company, Fred Olsen, which takes less time, but is much more expensive - worth it if you're just going to La Gomera for a single day, but not if you plan to stay overnight on the smaller island. Armas continues to the island of La Palma, so you can continue your journey if you like. The ferry is very large, has lounges, armchairs, a cafeteria, and outside decks so you can see the landscape.
The Plaza de la Americas is the central square of San Sebastian de la Gomera. It's the first place you see when you get off the boat and leave the port. Here you'll find the city council and the general administration. It's where festivals take place, and in February, of course, the great carnival. There's a stage with a ceiling for these occasions. The plaza is framed by beautiful old buildings, with two or three storeys, and exterior wooden balconies covered by a small roof. The facade is white, and in the square there are some cafe terraces shaded by huge trees. From there, you can see the two main streets, still similar to what Christopher Columbus and his crew found when they made their way to the Americas.
Of Cultural Interest in San Sebastián de La Gomera
The Carnaval de la Gomera mostly takes place in San Sebastian, the capital of the island. Like on the other Canary Islands, it's a very important event, with spectacular parades. In 2008, the theme of the carnival was the thousand one nights, and the carnival queens - there are two, a child and an adult - wore stunning costumes. There are prizes for the best floats and the best costumes. Shrove Tuesday is an important day, where sardines are eaten on the beach. It's a great holiday that's worth seeing, though it's hard to stay on La Gomera, because the island is small and hotels quickly fill up.
Of Touristic Interest in San Sebastián de La Gomera
Los Roques are volcanic outcrops left uncovered by erosion. There are plenty of them around La Gomera, as you'd expect from an old volcanic island. In fact, I think of all the Canary Islands, it has the most. At first they seem like ordinary stones, so it took me a long time to look into the backgrounds. Each has its own name, and there are plenty of them.
Lonely, quiet, this beach is at the end of the valley of the same name and a few km from San Sebastian de La Gomera. The building began years ago (at least 17) but stopped. The promoter, English, had trouble with the law and was never heard of again. On the internet it is said to be black sand and gravel, well, I'd say pure stones. It lies between cliffs and the water, so yes, they are pure and crystalline. The only time I went swimming, I loved it. Opposite is the sea, behind the ridge and palm trees.
After surrounding the island, it is necessary to make a stop in a viewpoint that can remain unnoticed, since it doesn’t look too important from the car. But you have to stop to understand the importance of this enclave.
Actually, the natural monument of Barranco del Cabrito includes two ravines: Juan Vera, which is continued in El Cabrito and Guancha, both are separated by an abrupt tongue of land in which the erosion has carved sharp crests and spectacular volcanic plugs like Magro and Sombrero.
In the most inaccessible slopes grows a rare endemism of Gomera flora. The Barranco del Cabrito flows into a pebbled beach next to a hotel that used to be a farm that grew tomatoes and bananas. In the late 80’s, the controversial Viennese artist, Otto Mühl established a commune, rehabilitating the ancient buildings of the plantation.
Finally, the farm became an ecological hotel that can only be reached by boat or a long walk, since there are no roads. In its origins, the people only had great cereal fields that used terrace cultivation.
During the most part of the year, the barley and the wheat didn’t need to be taken care of, so the farmers could do other stuff, but in the harvesting season they needed a lot of help so the people of the north came here with their animals. They lodged in barns, simple constructions that were used for storage.
In the late 19th century, there were new work opportunities in places like Tenerife, Cuba or Venezuela, so the fields were abandoned.
It's a small market but is busy, especially in the mornings. It is a bit outside the old town, but since the town is so small it is only five minutes from the main church. The market is stuck to the bus station, so you can shop before setting off to explore the island and hike. It consists of a Hiper Trebol supermarket, prices are cheap, as in Tenerife, there are also some services such as a bakery and a convenience store. Although there is no fruit the market stalls have vegetables, fish, the famous cheeses, Gomera honeys and other handicrafts - more for the tourist. You can see a clear difference in price between island products such as bananas and tomatoes that are less than 1 euro per kilo and imported products like apples that are more than 4 euros a kilo! They assured us that the market stayed open until 8 pm but when we went back later in the day half the vendors were gone.
The best things to do in San Sebastián de La Gomera
Some of the best things to see in San Sebastian de la Gomera are its protected natural areas. One of the most recognised and popular San Sebastian de la Gomera attractions is the Benchijigua Nature Reserve. In it can be found a range of protected species, such as the chahorra and tajinaste. Another of the best San Sebastian de la Gomera activities is paying a visit to the Los Roques, which was declared a natural monument in 1994.
Nearby is the equally astounding natural monument of Barranco del Cabrito, another of the incredible attractions in San Sebastian de la Gomera. Another of the places to visit in San Sebastian de la Gomera is the Puntallana Nature Reserve, where one canfind beetles unique to the area.
If you're still searching for things to do in San Sebastian de la Gomera, the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is important to the city and in terms of buildings is most representative. It was built before 1542 and contains engravings, a necropolis, and middens.
You will experience pure tranquility if you choose to visit this marvellous city. The best stuff to do in San Sebastian de la Gomera is related to nature and leisure. In addition, from this island you can easily move to other nearby islands. If you're planning a trip and are still unsure of what to do in San Sebastian de la Gomera, we suggest searching on Minube, where you can a complete list of all the monuments, parks, natural areas, activities, and more.