Visions of La Palma, The Shambolic Los Balcones of Santa Cruz de la Palma

I adore these ancient balconies on Avenida Marítima in Santa Cruz de la Palma. The term higgledy piggledy could have been invented for them.

They’re warped and uneven, their styles are all over the place and the rule of thumb as far as their colouring is concerned seems to be – you can use any shade you want as long as it’s not the same as your neighbour’s. Brilliant. The overgrown window gardens just add to a sense of shambolic anarchy.

In architectural terms they represent a confluence of cultures. Some aspects, such as the closed balcony, follow designs brought by immigrants from Northern Spain, whereas the narrow high roofed shape is pure Portuguese and the latticed enclosed boxes betray Arabian influences – evidence of the diversity of peoples who shared these streets in days of yore.

In many ways they are a perfect testament to the history of the Canary Islands and the people who inhabit them. Nowadays they act as a pretty picture opportunity for the cruise passengers who regularly alight at the town but to me they are a vibrant monument to an era when the ships berthing at La Isla Bonita’s port were filled with colourful characters en route to strange and distant lands.




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