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After the Guanches were defeated, the town of San Cristóbal de La Laguna was founded in Aguere (aboriginal place name that means “lagoon”) in 1497. The name Villa de San Cristóbal is recorded as early as 26 June of that year. The location was chosen because it was removed from the coast, far from possible pirate attacks; because it was a passage for people travelling from one side of the island to the other; because of its climate and fertile soil for crops and pastures; and because there was drinking water nearby.

The city’s historical centre got its definitive design at the end of the 16th century, as it is evident from the first existing map of the city which was drawn by Italian engineer Leonardo Torriani in 1588.

One of the institutions that best reflect the full benefits of citizenship and municipal authority since La Laguna was founded is the Cabildo Insular [Island Government], that would first meet at Nuestra Señora de La Concepción Church, then at the Ermita de San Miguel and from 1547 at the Town Hall.

Regarding religious architecture, you can find buildings on every corner and street as there are plenty of small churches, crosses, stations of the cross, chapels, churches and convents that started to be built in the early 16th century.

La Laguna is also the site of former cultural and ecclesiastical institutions such as Universidad de San Fernando (1792), and the Bishopric, which has been in the city since 1819. It was in the 19th century that the urbanized perimeter of the city was extended although it did not hinder the pride in its historic past nor did it restrain its future development. 

As a result of the economic development of Santa Cruz de Tenerife from the 19th century on, La Laguna had its privileges and prerogatives gradually reduced and in 1833 it lost its status of capital to Santa Cruz. However, it has kept its status of cultural capital, which was reinforced when its conjunto histórico [historical ensemble] was internationally recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO, on 2 December 1999.