Cultural History and Oranges
In addition to many exhibits on the nature and history of La Palma, the Museo Insular of La Palma in Santa Cruz houses works of art and photography, including images of local photo artist and filmmaker Miguel Brito Rodríguez (1876-1972). The fine arts really come into their own in their historic setting that is this former Franciscan monastery that dates back to 1508. Some of the orange trees in the Orange Patio, an inner courtyard of the monastery, were planted by European heads of state on the occasion of the opening of the European Northern Observatory in 1985.
On the Plaza de la Alameda in the centre of Santa Cruz lies a large ship: the ‘Santa Maria’, that Christopher Columbus was sailing when he discovered America. It is, of course, only a replica, but the dimensions could be correct. The inside of the wooden ship holds a concrete building that houses the Museo Naval del Barco de La Virgen, a maritime museum that was renovated in 2009. The modern museum concept uses many audio-visual effects to convey the history of seafaring and life aboard a ship like those in Columbus’s fleet. Also on display are original nautical charts and everyday seafaring items from the 15th century.
Puro Palmero – The Island’s Cigar
The Parque de Los Alamos in San Pedro is home to the Museo del Puro Palmero, dedicated to one of the island’s more controversial products: the cigar. Migrant workers from Cuba and Venezuela brought the skills needed to cultivate tobacco and manufacture cigars to the island in the 17th and 18th century. Even today, there are many small businesses here that produce cigars according to their own recipes, the Puro Palmeros. The museum presents the entire history, peppered with numerous anecdotes. For instance, there is the story of an early cigar smoker who was imprisoned on suspicion of being a sorcerer. It was not until his release that he found out that smoking had long since been permitted!
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