Lercaro Palace

Patio del Palacio de Lercaro (Museo de Historia y Antropología de Tenerife)
Inside the palace

The Lercaro family represents the highest social elite of the Canary Islands in the 16th century. Registered in the Golden Book of the Republic of Genoa, they settled in La Laguna as a result of their commercial activity on the Atlantic. Their economic and social power was strengthened by the policy of marriage alliances, linking them to the main houses of the island’s nobility.

Such is the case of Francisco Lercaro de León to whom, married to Catalina Justiniani and Justiniani, we owe the construction of the palace from 1593. It will be built on the site initially occupied by the house of the notary public Gaspar Justiniani

The building was a family home, but in more contemporary times it had other uses: a military hostel, university classroom, primary school, and shoe store, carpentry and forge. Since 1993, after a restoration process, it has been converted into a museum; it is currently the Museum of Anthropology and History of Tenerife.

In the building, the masonry façade with a central body of stone and eaves of tile stands out. The doorway has a small projecting cornice, held up by small corbels, with ring decoration between them, and the Lercaro coat of arms in its centre. From the ends of the cornice there is a split pediment that ends in two elegant volutes, very typical of the architecture of Serlio and Vignola. The upper part extends the characteristic cushioning that delimits the doorway, finishing off the whole with an open and curved pediment with flames, which ends in two spiral curved scrolls. All this culminates in a decoration with pinnacles in the shape of a vase. The characteristic sgraffito of Genoese palaces, discovered during the building’s restoration, stands out. The cover described reminds us that Tenerife was not alien to the process of receiving the classical architecture spread from Italy to the rest of Europe, from the treaties of Vitrubio, Serlio and Sagredo.

The late Renaissance-Mannerist language of the doorway is prolonged, firstly, in the jambs and lintels of the entrance door. There are some frescoes, applied in tempera on a very fine preparation of plaster that covers the stone and acts as a base, with very simple decorative motifs, consisting of false architecture, in the jambs, and garlands on the lintels.

Crossing the entrance hall, on the left is the main staircase, built with the same stone used to build the portico and the pilasters of the patio. It is supported by a vault and a semicircular arch, finished off at the top with a suggestive Italianate solution of double wooden arches. Once the main door has been passed, the central courtyard can be accessed. Of the seven columns that surround it, some are made of stone and others of wood. On the parapets of the corridor on the upper floor, there are wooden panels carved with plant motifs. Equally striking are the decorative elements in the upper galleries of the central courtyard.

The Palacio de Lercaro has been an Asset of Cultural Interest, with the category of Monument, since 29 April 2008.

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