Castillo de San Andres - History and Facts | History Hit

Castillo de San Andres

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Castillo de San Andres is the pretty ruin of an eighteenth, perhaps seventeenth, century fortification in Tenerife.

Peta Stamper

26 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Castillo de San Andres

Castillo de San Andres, or Torre de San Andres, is the 16th century fortification built to deter pirates from the island of Tenerife. All that remains today are parts of its main tower, the ruins of which are on display in a public plaza.

Castillo de San Andres history

During the 16th century, King Philip II sent the Italian military engineer Leonardo Torriani to fortify the coast of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Among the places demanding protection was the Salazar Valley, later known as San Andres. Located on the coast, there was fear over defending the town’s beaches, as well as ships, from attacks by pirates who raided the coasts for slaves and goods.

When pirate ships were sighted, the watchmen would alert local towns: women and children would seek refuge and men would head to the coast to fend off the pirates.

However, the castle was not built until the late 17th century, believed built in 1706 adjacent to the mouth of a stream off the ravine Cercado de Andres.

During the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797, an assault by the British Royal Navy, the castle played an important role firing shots that destroyed the mast and riggings of the ship, Theseus, carrying Admiral Horacio Nelson. It was believed by the British that the Spanish kept American treasure on the island. During the battle, Nelson sustained a wound to the arm, later partially amputated becoming a life-long reminder of his defeat.

During storms and heavy rain, the stream besides the Castillo de San Andres flooded, collapsing part of the castle in the 18th and 19th centuries. In November 1967, the castle was declared a Spanish Historical Heritage site, and in 1999 a site of Cultural Interest in the Canary Islands.

Castillo de San Andres today

At present, you can visit the castle ruins consisting of a single rounded tower. From its proximity to the beach only 20 metres away, visitors can appreciate the fear inhabitants would have felt from the threat of pirate attacks, and the reassurance that the beachside castle would have provided. On a sunny Tenerife day, you can walk past the castle tower in only a few minutes.

Getting to Castillo de San Andres

If driving around the island, there is a car park at the castle. San Andres is located off the TF-11, a 15 minute coastal drive from Santa Cruz de Tenerife.