Santa Cruz de La Palma (Spanish for Holy Cross of La Palma) is the capital of the Island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. It is situated on the east coast.
The city was founded by Alonso Fernández de Lugo on May 3,1493 in the prehispanic site of Tedote. He conquered the island and made it part of the possessions of the Crown of Castile. After the conquer of the island the city began to acquire substancial economic power.
Its importance on the trade routes to Europe –and particularly to the Americas– was so great that in 1558 it became the home of the first Courts and Assizes of the Indies. The city had become a flourishing export hub and attracted a large number of merchants and bankers. All this, in combination with the intense naval activity undertaken by its shipyards, served to make Santa Cruz de La Palma the third most important maritime port in the Spanish Empire, after Seville and Antwerp.
This glorious past can still be seen in the historic centre of Santa Cruz de La Palma in the priceless legacy of palaces, colonial-style buildings and houses bearing typical elements of traditional Canary Islands architecture such as the wooden balconies.
The first democratically-elected local council in the whole of Spain was formed here in 1773. A plaque on the wall, inside the entrance hall, commemorates this significant event. Attractive murals illustrating scenes from island life of yesteryear decorate the staircase and ceilings.
The chunky church tower, standing just opposite, was built sturdily enough to withstand cannon fire, with the belfry doubling as a handy look-out seawards: pirates and privateers, among them Sir Francis Drake, harassed the town throughout the 16th century.