Church of San Juan Bautista

Vista general de la ermita

The construction of the chapel began in 1584 by the Cabildo of Tenerife, in gratitude to the Patron Saint, for putting an end to the victims of the bubonic plague of 1582. The enclosure built included the entire site where the victims of the epidemic had been buried. For centuries the Cabildo was in charge of its provision and maintenance, with periods of greater or lesser fortune. In 1862, the church was ceded to the military authority to serve as a hospital on a provisional basis. It was completely restored in 1955.

As for the church, it is a single-nave building with a wooden roof and a main chapel. In modern times, a side chapel was added on the Gospel side.

From the architectural point of view, the most notable feature of the building is the portico on the main façade, which is accessed by three steps of volcanic stone. It is a body of reddish stone, unusual in other chapels, in the late Renaissance style, which gives the complex its nobility and antiquity. It is structured by a semicircular arch flanked by two smooth pilasters with Ionic capitals, of volutes with a small foliage of acanthus leaves that support an entablature finished off by the eaves corresponding to the roof. The two corners of the main façade are accentuated by the characteristic strips of carved stone. A graceful volcanic stone belfry, located in the angle formed by the right-hand front of the main façade and the Epistle wall, tops the whole; it takes the form of a small temple -where two semicircular arches open- finished off by a simple moulding on which an elegant perillan rests.

Both lateral walls are much simpler. On the façade corresponding to the Epistle, some elements of the primitive factory can be recognized, despite the restoration carried out in 1955: an old door framed by a semicircular arch with very accentuated voussoirs and a small linteled window surrounded by a red stonework moulding. On the other hand, on the left wall, from the Gospel, the walls of a chapel stand out. The head of the chapel is quadrangular and has the sacristy attached.

The interior of the enclosure is spacious and offers a completely different structure to that which can be seen in other ancient chapels. The presbytery is barely distinguishable from the rest of the nave due to the absence of the typical toral arch that acts as a differentiating element. Consequently, the roof of the main chapel does not offer those structural characteristics (octagonal arrangement) that can be seen in many other chapels. The coffered ceiling that runs uninterruptedly through the only nave of the church is made of pairs and knuckles, with triangular wooden sections reinforcing the corners. Its paired braces, held up by two pairs of corbels, offer great interest in the beauty of the carvings. Above the main door there are two small stands for the choir, which rest on octagonal wooden pillars finished off with footings and supported by square red stone bases.

The temple currently lacks a main altarpiece, but this was not always the case: since 1609 the image of Saint John the Baptist was displayed on a wooden altarpiece that had been made by the carpenter Salvador López, but over time it disappeared, without the exact causes being known. The only two altarpieces that the church has today were made in workshops in La Orotava, in the first third of our century, following a baroque theme.

On May 8, 2000, the Church, its related assets, and the nearby Cemetery of San Juan Bautista were declared a Property of Cultural Interest, with the category of monument.

Vista desde la Plaza de San Juan Bautista
View from San Juan Square
Vista lateral
Lateral View
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