“This is our history”

The Adeje council’s project, ‘El Patrimonio es Nuestra’ (This is our history), an initiative of the department of artistic heritage, has become a fixed part of the cultural agenda over the last seven years, with organised visits for students to get to know the cultural, natural and historical riches the borough has to offer.

“Since we began this project we have welcomed over one thousand students from primary and secondary schools, both from Adeje and other boroughs, as the history f Adeje is also very important for the neighbouring zones of the island” commented Juan Desiderio Afonso Ruiz, councillor for local heritage, adding, “we want to show the evolution of Adeje from the past to the present through items of cultural interest”.

The Plaza de España, the San Francisco Convent, the Santa Úrsula church, the surrounds of the Fort House, Taucho, the ‘Virgin’ walk to La Caleta, all emblematic points in the borough with guided visits now incorporated into the schools agendas, with the additional recent inclusion of a visit to the Canarian library where the students can learn more and enjoy audio-visual supports too. “This way we are helping the next generation learn a little about their own culture too, as well as getting to know the local resources and learning to value the history of Adeje” said the councillor.

The project is more than an educational one, as tours can be offered to residents too, with many having already taken part in tours in English and Spanish, learning too of the architectural treasures locally.

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Adeje’s 18th century altarpiece restored


The Adeje council and the Tenerife Cabildo have co-financed the restoration of the 18th century altar-piece dedicated to the ‘Virgen del Rosario’, located in the town’s parish church. The councillor for heritage, Juan Desiderio Afonso Ruiz, said “for our local government the conservation of our heritage has been of continuing importance as our history and is something we value. We understand that if we don’t place any value on the past we cannot build a solid future and in this regard, for many years, we have underlined the importance of restoration and recovery of items of historic interest of the borough.

The inauguration of the newly restored altar-piece took place this Saturday, December 1st, and was accompanied by a short concert of sacred music with the Reyes Bartlet group who specialise in music for occasions such as this.

This is a baroque altar-piece of the ‘Virgen del Rosario’, originally built in 1744 for Antonio de Herrera y Ahala, the Marques of Adeje and Count of La Goemra. It was built using separate pieces using particular wood techniques incorporating polychrome and gold and gold alloys.

According to the technical report carried out a professional team under the direction of the restorer Elisa Campos Dominguez, “the main support structure was in a state of good condition, solid and strong, but there was deterioration on some of the inferior moulding near the base which was loose. When we began the work there was no evidence of the active presence of wood-eating insects. A number of pieces and some moulding was missing, primarily at the base of the altar where we also noticed extra nails and cracks in the wood. Some of the polychrome was also in a poor state.”

During the conservation and restoration process the team worked “to return the work to its original state and at the same time worked to halt any deterioration while staying true to the original. The team also reinforced the mouldings that had come apart from the wooden support and replaced missing pieces which were reintegrated using resin. The old oxidised varnish which covered the polychrome surface was removed and repainted where needed, using colours compatible with the original”.


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Who controls our cultural heritage?

Jagielska-Burduk: “The EU sees cultural heritage as a development catalyst”

Alicja Jagielska-Burduk, is a legal counsellor and head of the Centre for Cultural Heritage Protection Law at Kazimierz Wielki University, Bydgoszcz, Poland, and works for the Santander Art and Culture Law Review. This week she was one of the guest lecturers taking part in the Adeje Summer University, speaking on art, culture and the law, looking at the legal questions that arise during the marketing of art. She defended the need to protect heritage adding that in many instances, “the EU considers cultural heritage as a development catalyst”.

During her lecture she dealt with a number of legal and economic aspects related to the protection of cultural and historical artefacts, and the link between art, culture and economic development. The need to create industries and encourage education programmes related to heritage and culture was also discussed.

Jagielska-Burduk reckons the protection of art collections and historical sites is important, and European institutions can create a communal link, unifying the different ideas in the continent. At the same time though, the use of new technologies and assisting private initiatives was stressed, as was the public-private co-operation needed to set up new heritage projects.

“Of course it is important to respect the importance between public and private bodies and avoid potential conflicts. But, without doubt, the public interest takes precedence over the private, because there exists a responsibility to ensure as much of our cultural inheritance is preserved for and available to future generations.”

The movements within the international art market may see heritage art pieces held beyond public viewing, which is why she believes it is important to create co-operative programmes with private collectors. For example, she outlined how many private collectors open their doors to the public during summer months. “The dilemma then isn’t’ to choose between private and public but rather to work to help private collectors become a part of the cultural heritage team and see what we can do to encourage them to volunteer to do so”.

While there are differences in legislation regarding heritage and art in different EU countries, all share a common thread based on the rights of ownership and balances and restrictions. “The owner of the item isn’t important here – it’s irrelevant whether the work is private or public or semi-privately owned. What is of primary importance is the intention to protect it”.

Go with the flow!

The Adeje water route event will be in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English

The Adeje councillor for tourism, Ermitas Moreira García, announced details of this Sunday’s Water Route, which will see performances in costume along the way, underlying the important role water has played in the evolution of the borough. The route is scheduled to coincide with World Water day (celebrated this week) and the performances will be by the Adeje Municipal Folklore School. It will be in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English

The councillor explained that “the riches of our heritage are very relevant, not just for residents, but also for those who visit, looking for new experiences. The re-evaluation of our history, a history which unites us, is a fundamental task in the building of a viable tourist destination. For that reason the water route is an excellent way to remember the importance of this natural resource, looking at is use and relevance from an historic perspective”.

The route will start at 11am, from the entrance to the Barranco del infierno, following on to the Arriba mill, the Tres Chorros fountain, the Old Mill, orchards, the Fort House, the Santa Úrsula Church, the Calle Grande, Calle Sindical, and onto the plaza at Cruz del Llano. An addition this year will be a scene showing the lives of the Marquises of Adeje.

Anyone who would like to take part can do so, and participation is free. You will need to arrive on time to the starting point at the Barranco del Infierno.


Adeje has always been considered a privileged location, in the past as it is today. The borough had the biggest number of springs along the coast – two higher up where the Erques ravine is, three in the area known as El Aserradero, two in the Barranco del Infierno, one at the top of the Barranco del Agua, another at the foot of the Roque de los Brezos and another beside the Roque de Imoque. The borough was a settlement area for a large group of Guanches, (the local aborigine inhabitants). This was also the home of the ‘Gran Tinerfe’ one of the most important chieftains in Tenerife in his time, whose statue today is at the entrance to the town of Adeje.

After the conquest of the island, in the south, and particularly in Adeje, water played a very important role as a local resource, with the Rio de Adeje (the Adeje river) flowing from the Barranco del Infierno down to the sea.

Valuing our heritage, learning from the past


The Adeje initiative “Difundiendo Nuestro Patrimonio” (Disseminating our heritage) is designed to open the doors onto the borough’s natural, historical and cultural heritage for students and has been running for six years now. According to the borough’s heritage councillor, Juan Desiderio Afonso Ruiz, “what we are trying to do is pass onto students the important role history plays today, and explain the relevance of the development and evolution of Adeje from days gone by through the many places of cultural interest we celebrate today.”

During the year up to a thousand students from primary and secondary centres take part in the initiative which also invites students from private schools both in Adeje and beyond, to explain the historic relevance of the borough in the history of Tenerife.

The Canarian Library, the Plaza de España, the Convento de San Francisco, the Santa Úrsula Church, the Fort House and surrounds and the Camino de la Virgen (the mountain walk from the town to La Caleta), these are the emblematic locations in the borough on which the guided visits are based and explained by experts from the heritage division. The visits use different educative tools adapted for the age of the students in question, and in this way “we are working to bring the young people of the borough closer to their heritage so they can appreciate the resources they have and value their own history”, says the councillor.

The Project doesn’t just have an educative angle, and is also open to members of the public who, on different occasions, have taken part in information days getting to know the architectural, natural and historical symbols of Adeje.

Department of Communications

Its our heritage!

adeje-patrimonio nuestro  (2)
Primary and secondary school children from Adeje and Arona, San Miguel and La Laguna took part in a number of activities recently under the Adeje “El Patrimonio es Nuestro” (Its our heritage) programme.
Over eight hundred students in all visited a number of different emblematic sites in the borough, which aimed to show the younger generation the importance of cultural and historical heritage and – and with many of today’s students from a multi-cultural background, this introduction to their local heritage is very relevant indeed. There were talks on why its important to recognise and conserve local history and traditions, as well as the social, environmental and often economic benefits of such preservation.
The students visited the “Camino de la Virgen” walk from the town across the old mountain path to San Sebastain , the Convento de San Francisco, la Casa Fuerte (the town fort) and the Plaza España.

Walking with water

ruta del agua adeje I


This Sunday, and coinciding with World Water Day 2015 Adeje will celebrate the ‘Ruta del Agua’, or Water Route, which is designed to remind people of the important role water has to play in the past of the local Adeje society.
According to the local cultural councillor, Nayra Medina Bethencourt, “the heritage of the town has many aspects, we can see it on our streets, in the centre of Adeje, in the Convento de San Francisco, the Casa Fuerte (town fort), and the modern Plaza de España, as well as the Barranco del Infierno. This project is under the Adeje Together umbrella, involving the whole community, give the multicultural nature of the Adeje society which has grown in recent years and is directly involved in building the Adeje of the future.”
Anyone who would like to participate in the event, which is free, can sign up at the CDTCA. The starting point is the Plaza de España at 10.30am. During the event people will be able to find out more about the role water played in the development and evolution of Adeje, the borough with the largest number of natural springs in the island. Throughout the centuries water and how it has been controlled and channelled has played its part in the social and political evolution of the area. Find out more on Sunday.

ruta del agua adeje II

Adeje’s Religious Heritage

Many of the statues and images that play a central role in the celebrations in Adeje during Easter Week have a history all of their own, with restoration works ongoing, which underlies their importance role in the borough’s heritage, with works from keynote sculptors such as Juan Abascal, Juan Ventura or Luis Álvarez Duarte.

Juan Abascal Fuentes (1922-2003)
Juan Abascal Fuentes was a sculptor and professor in Seville who studied art in his home town but originally abandoned his artistic studies to take up the law, which he practised until 1952, when he returned to the world of art, particularly sculpture. Among his influences was Jose Luis Vassallo Parodi, from Cadiz, from whom he learnt the art of religious imagery. His work is also reflective of the style of Seville baroque masters such as Martínez Montañés, Pedro Roldán and Francisco de Ocampo while also very dramatic. His works can be seen on Adeje’s streets on Palm Sunday, Easter Tuesday and Good Friday, and are La Dolorosa/The Virgin of the Sorrows and Jesus entering Jerusalem on a Donkey.

Juan Ventura (1954-)
Born in Lora del Rio in Seville, Juan Ventura studied art in the Fine Arts academy there. He learnt the art of sculpture from Francisco Buiza Fernández, considered a master of imagery. He has a number of works that are seen during Easter Week events. They are:
Nuestra Señora de la Piedad/Our Lady of Pity who is carried out on Good Friday by the Adeje Senior Citizens club. This is a large statue of Our Lady weeping with the fallen Christ in her arms.
Jesús Nazareno, who is carried through the streets in Easter Tuesday, carrying the cross and greatly revered by the Adeje faithful and also recognised for its artistic qualities.

Luis Álvarez Duarte (1949-)
Sculptor, painter and restorer. Also from Seville, self-taught in modelling from an early age and later on received training from artists such as Rafael Barbero, Francisco Buiza, and others. His principal works are religious statues in wood and among his best known works are the Virgin Patron Saint of the Cachorro Brotherhood (1973), and the Christ of the Brotherhood of Thirst, Seville. In 2006 he was appointed a member of the Seville Fine Arts Hungarian Royal Academy. He has also worked on important restorations such as Our Lord of Might, Seville, who lost an arm due to vandalism in 2010. In Adeje two of his works are taken out during Easter Week and revered as much for their artistic merit as their religious significance. They are:
El Señor Cautivo/The Captured Christ from cedar wood, larger than life and reminiscent of the Seville baroque period, with dramatic expressions in the face and body. This statue will be taken from the Hermitage of La Ezperanza de La Viña on Easter Monday in the care of the National Police.

Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza/Our Lady of Hope
This is a representation of the Virgin Mary of the Sorrows. According to Andalucian tradition the statue’s face is very expressive with glass tear drops, green glass eyes, natural eye-lashes. The statue is also taken out on Easter Monday and on Easter Wednesday accompanied by Our Lord of Humility and Patience from La Postura to the Parish of Santa Úrsula in the town centre and during the procession on Maundy Thursday and carried by the Porteadores de la Virgen.

Cristo de la Misericordia
One of the images that has led the processions during Easter Week since the 18th Century in Adeje is the Cristo de la Misericordia.
The artist is unknown, but the style represents baroque in its purest form. In the past the position of the figure’s arms were adapted for different Easter events, but now the Christ is on the cross, with the face of the statue representing the point of death. The treatment of the skin, the beard, and other aspects of the statue have been noted by experts.
According to Nelson Díaz Frías in his book La Historia de Adeje (The history of Adeje) there is a reference to an alter with a Crucified Christ in an inventory in 1648 and in another written in 1745 a reference to a similar statue.
In the parochial records documents have been found regarding the rules and regulations of the Misericordia Cofradia (brotherhood), founded in March 1661. The documents name the members of the group, the obligations of the group, which included the numbers needed for processions, the election of a steward, the giving of alms, the wearing of a certain tunic, helping those in need, those condemned to death, and recovery of accident victims. While the group doesn’t actually exist today, their representation is continued in the church and has formed part of the Easter Week celebrations in Adeje since the 17th century

‘Our’ History

Children from Adeje Casco CEIP visiting the Convent in Adeje

Children from Adeje Casco CEIP visiting the Convent in Adeje

The Adeje council has invited children from local schools to get to know their heritage a little bit better, and this is particularly interesting for families who have come from other countries as it is a chance for the children to learn something more about where they are growing up, information their parents may not have access to.

This next generation of Adejeros and Adejeras have been visiting different historic sites and buildings in the town as part of the ‘This Heritage is Ours’ programme designed for students from primary and secondary schools in the borough.
The visits have been to the Canarian library and other historical buildings to learn more about what they have to offer, services and organisation. In this way the young people learn what cultural heritage means, why its worth preserving and the technical and economic difficulties that often hamper that conservation.
Certainly one group of eight year olds who visited the Canarian library and were treated to a talk about the Guanches came home full of enthusiasm and a desire to learn more and read more about the island that is their home. They also visited the Casa Fuerte, the town’s Church and the Convent.
Particularly for parents who are not Canarian but who have chosen to live here this is a great aid in helping our children appreciate the multicultural backgrounds they have, and no doubt we will soon be learning from them

Restored 18th Century Painting

cuadro virgen del rosario RESTAURADO

This Friday at 6pm Adeje’s heritage councillor Juan Desiderio Afonso Ruiz has invited the public to attend a special mass in the town’s parish church, Santa Ursula, where a restored painting of the Virgin del Rosario, dating from 1743, will be presented. During the mass the public will also be able to listen to the Baroque Organ.
According to the councillor the work to restore this canvas began a number of years ago and was made possible through a partnership between Adeje council, the regional heritage department and the bishopric of Tenerife. The actual restoration work was carried out by Raquel Trujillo Afonso and Candelaria García Díaz. Historian Carlos Morales has made a study of the work and will present the painting and his findings on Friday. Also present will be Rosario Álvarez, president of the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts and professor of music at the University of La Laguna, and local authorities.