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As buildings and squares emerged, in line with this principle of grid plan, the first unfortified colonial town was shaped, a territory-town. Why erect walls when the surrounding mountains protect the town? The privileged situation of La Laguna, in a valley at five hundred metres above sea level, led to the emergence of a new concept of town; a model that from then on was to be applied in many colonial areas in the New World. In 1588 the Italian engineer Leonardo Torriani produced the first street map of the town, at least the oldest one to have survived.

What we know today as the historical centre, had been described at this time already: the small group of disorderly houses west of La Concepción; the later geometric layout towards the East that stretches from this church towards Villa de Abajo through three main streets: Herradores, Obispo Rey Redondo and San Agustín; the magic triangle these three streets make up, with the main side at Nava y Grimón and Plaza del Adelantado… La Laguna we see today is the same one the Adelantado imagined when he looked on the valley from the nearby hills.

The development of the city revolved around the figure of its governor. From his new location in the so-called Villa de Abajo a new street layout was started that was based on the prevailing planning of the time, that is, the grid plan.

This map shows a 16th century city with the layout of the streets in the historic centre of La Laguna, which was designed at that time and has barely changed since then. We have lost some buildings and new ones have emerged while others have been refurbished, but the layout of the town, its streets and corners, remain.

With a a bird’s-eye view, of the layout of the blocks on the ground. The city is divided in two: Villa de Arriba, in the East starting from La Concepción Church, and Villa de Abajo, spreading to the south from the same point. In the former, which is the site of the founding settlement, there was no urban planning at all. That was where the Adelantado Alonso Fernández de Lugo established his residence. The Adelantado was the official who was granted a licence by the Crown of Castile to conquer, explore and govern the island of Tenerife. Shortly after, he would make a decision that was to change forever the urban destiny of La Laguna: moving his home to another spot in the fertile plateau he had discovered.