La Palma, known by its natural inhabitants as Benahoare, which traditional translation has been “my land”, counts with a huge cultural and archeological heritage.
The island's former inhabitants (auritas) appear as the dominating parties of an exquisite art in the profession of pottery and its decoration. More than 200 stations of engravings could be found corresponding to the pre-Iberian La Palma art, distributed from the coast to the highest mountains on the island, according to the inventories carried out during the last 30 years. La Palma is an island which counts with the greatest amount of pre-hispanic deposits already discovered (4,000 deposits) in the whole Canary Archipelago. Within the engraving works, three types stand out:
- Geometric engraving, comprising more than 95% of the up to date deposits found.
- Cross and nave shaped motives.
- Alphabetic motives.
Regarding the most recent heritage, the religious one stands out among others, from the beginning of the 16th century, after the incorporation of the island to the western culture. Most of churches of that period show arabic features (Mudejar), with volcanic stone walls, completed with simple bell towers. La Palma had a great importance as regards flamenco art, highlighting sculptures such as Virgin of the Encarnation (16th century); Saint Lucy in Puntallana, Our Lady of Piety (16th century) in S. Andrés y Sauces, Saint Anne`s sculpture group (16th century) in the church of S.Francisco (Santa Cruz de La Palma), etc.
In addition, it has been well known for a long time and by so many interested people, that the island of La Palma is singular not only because of the beauty of its landscapes, but also because of the richness of its artistic heritage, on account of the important position formerly occupied in the group of islands, when the maritime exchange with the Old and New Continent necessarily took place through Santa Cruz de La Palma, becoming the third port of such empire. During this period, the best artistic currents as well as the most valuable artists and objects were born.
Celebrations are one of the most rooted cultural values among the inhabitants of La Palma. The most famous ones is the festivity of the Bajada de la Virgen (Descent of the Virgin), celebrated in the island’s capital city. This celebration, declared of touristic interest, is carried out every five years and starts on the last Saturday of July, followed by the “small and big week”, ending when the image is brought down. Several magnificent and beautiful acts take place on account of this festivity, such as: the Pilgrimage when the throne is brought down (Romería de la Bajada del Trono), the original Dwarf Dance (Danza de los Enanos), the Minuet dance, among others. Another important celebration Virgen del Pinoin El Paso, which pilgrimage is also famous and takes place every three years. The Devil´s Fiesta (Fiesta del Diablo) in Tijarafe, the celebration of Our Lady of Montserrat (Nuestra Señora de Montserrat) in Los Sauces and Los Remedios (Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios) in Los Llanos de Aridane, are celebrations of unquestionable popular devotion attended every year by most of the inhabitants in addition to the island’s visitors.
Corpus Christi (Corpus de Mazo) should be also mentioned, where carpets made of petals, and arcs decorated with flowers, plants and seeds embellish the town, as well as in the Holy Heart celebration (Sagrado Corazón) in El Paso, where the pilgrimage path is decorated with tapestries created with vegetable elements.