3 min.

16 SEPTEMBER

12 interesting facts about Tenerife

Tenerife is an island that never fails to amaze both residents and visitors alike. Whether you’re planning your first visit, you’ve already been several times before or even if you’ve lived on the island for years, it’s quite likely that you feel you know Tenerife relatively well.

But Tenerife’s fascinating history and culture are constant sources of very cool pieces of trivia. To give you just a taste of what we’re talking about, here are just 12 interesting facts about Tenerife. There are many, many more where these came from. 

  1. Before being conquered by the Spanish, other European countries including France and Portugal tried to claim the Canary Islands. 
  2. Horatio Nelson was in charge of a fleet that attacked Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797. He lost the battle and also his right arm in the process. To this day, every July 25th there is a full-costume re-enactment of the famous battle celebrated in the capital. You can also go underground to visit not only part of the original city walls but also the actual cannon responsible for Nelson’s missing arm, the Tiger Cannon. It’s located in Castillo San Miguel, which stands underneath Santa Cruz’s miniature version of Lake Geneva.  
  3. The aboriginal inhabitants of Tenerife were called Guanches and came from Berber ancestry. But, here’s the mystery: described by European conquerors as a tall, beautiful, muscular people with white skin, fair hair and blue eyes, their Nordic appearance has baffled anthropologists for centuries who all expected shorter, darker features more in line with African descendance.  
  4. Tenerife used to be made up of nine kingdoms (known as menceyatos), each with its own ruler or mencey. Some of these are still familiar names today: Abona, Adeje, Anaga, Daute, Guimar, Icod, Tacoronte, Taoro and Tegueste.
  5. London’s Canary Wharf owes its name to the importance of the maritime trade between the United Kingdom and the Canary Islands (mainly bananas but also tomatoes and wine). The original berth was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, which is actually a subsidiary of the now famous Fred Olsen Lines – yes, the same Fred Olsen as the ferries that connect the islands.
  6. Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney almost drowned while swimming at the beach in Puerto de La Cruz during a holiday with his fellow bandmates in the early 1960s! Thank goodness he was spotted struggling and pulled out in time – can you imagine what a tragedy that would have been for the world of music?!
  7. Chelsea forward and former Spanish national team player Pedro Rodriguez, Pedrito as he’s affectionately called in Spanish, is from a little town called Abades in South Tenerife.
  8. Several Hollywood blockbusters including Rambo V: Last Blood, Jason Bourne, Clash of the Titans and Fast & Furious 6 were all filmed in Tenerife. Jason Bourne begins with a fight scene filmed up in Teide National Park, followed by a motorbike chase through the streets of Santa Cruz (supposedly somewhere in Greece). For weeks during filming, Greek signposts were visible around the city centre. Fast and the Furious 6 meanwhile, used a brand new stretch of motorway connecting the South of the island with Santiago del Teide, long before it was officially opened.    
  9. For many years, a large part of south Tenerife – what is now San Eugenio and all the way down to Puerto Colon – belonged to former Hollywood power couple Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
  10. Queen guitarist Brian May wrote the song Tie Your Mother Down whilst studying for his PhD in Astrophysics in Tenerife. 
  11. The island is home to some pretty bizarre traditions, which include running along dragging strings with pots and pans attached to them, to make as much noise as possible (Arrastre de cacharros) and bathing animals like horses and cows in the sea for good luck (la fiesta San Sebastian).
  12. There are places in Tenerife whose names translate to “The Biscuits”, “The Overcoats”, “The Christians” and “Hope”

Record-breaking Tenerife!

Tenerife may not stand out much on a geographical world map, but when it comes to breaking records, the island certainly stands out. Here are just a few of its accolades: 

  • The largest collection of Thai-themed building outside Thailand. (Siam Park)
  • The largest lava tube in Europe, La Cueva del Viento (“Wind Cave”) in Icod de los Vinos
  • The most visited national park in Europe (Las Cañadas del Teide)
  • The world’s oldest and largest Dragon Tree (In Icod de los Vinos)
  • The best waterpark in the world according to TripAdvisor – Siam Park (in Adeje)
  • The highest man-made waves, at Siam Park
  • The 2nd biggest carnival in the world after Rio de Janerio (In Santa Cruz de Tenerife)
  • The 3rd largest volcano on earth (Teide)

Now that you know Tenerife a little – or a lot – more, you have to admit that it’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?!