San Sebastian

Overview:

History

Since the beginning of the 15th Century, when the island's conquest to the inclusion into the Kingdom of Castile took place, San Sebastian has been the political and administrative capital of the island. The historic centre of this place has undergone ongoing growth throughout 500 years of its moving history: from a gorge to a protected bay, and up to today's modern quay, which enables this modern entry gate to this place, as well as the entire island.

In the beginning, San Sebastián was a small settlement, whose founders not only possessed a protected bay for sailing ships, but also access to fresh water. They could therefore supply water from the springs to the ships, which still provided water with the help of mills and bucket wheels. The first houses were built directly by the beach, with a main road called Calle del Medio, which translates as “The Middle Road”. The little town of San Sebastián has left behind interesting remnants of its past, such as monuments designed to bring the religious, political, social, and military occurrences of the past 500 years closer to the visitors.

Location and Vegetation

The Gomeran capital lies in the south east of the island. There is wind shadow here, and it is mainly dry with barren shrubs. The temperatures here are higher, with a yearly average of 22°C. San Sebastián is the first place you reach coming from the sea. The large commercial harbour is steered at by passenger ships from Tenerife, La Palma, and El Hierro. Cruise ships from all over Europe dock at this harbour.

Visitors will find quiet beaches with fine sand and natural landscapes worth a walk. For example, the Majona Nature Park, the Chejelipes Gorge, and Puntalla, where the hermitage of the island's patron saint, Our Lady Guadalupe, is found.

Economy

The economy of San Sebastián is today mainly determined by its function as capital and harbour. The service sector plays an important role, particularly in relation to transport, trade, and tourism.

How to get there

There are currently no bus routes to the beach which means to get there, you have to either travel by taxi, or independently by car.

There are several vehicle-friendly trails which fork off the FV-2 motorway, which lead to the coastline. If heading from Puerto del Rosario airport, the journey should take approximately 45 minutes.

Sights:

Pilgrimage Church of Saint Sebastián

This simple and humble construction is one of town's first churches dating back to 1540. The final completion, however, was only in 1674. Once you have entered the circular arch by the main entrance, you stand inside the 11 metre-long and 5 metre-wide ship with a chapel, which again lies behind a circular arch.

Address: Calle Real, 38800 San Sebastián de La Gomera

Church of La Asunción

Located close to the sea, however not having been endangered by earlier flooding, is this place's most important house of God, the Asunción Church. It was constructed on the remains of an old pilgrimage church, and hides rich treasures behind its walls. Among these are the Mudejar table works, wood sculptures, and various paintings and drawings, such as the “Christ at the Cross” by Luján Pérez, whose most recent restoration was completed in 1988.

Christopher Columbus prayed for the final time in the old church, before embarking on the crossing of the seas. However, this past church is no longer in existence. Today, the church offers visitors a different image of this house of God, as was foreseen by the constructor Hernán Peraza El Joven. Due to the constant pirate attacks during the 16th and 17th Century, this small town and its Asunción Church were levelled to the ground several times. Today, the church represents a harmonious fusion  of Mudejar, Gothic, and Baroque influences. It features a facade with a central body for the main entrance with red chalkstone and two white stone side doors.

Address: Calle del Tanquito, 13, 38800 San Sebastian De La Gomera
Telephone: +34 922 870 303

The Earl's Tower (Torre del Conde)

The Earl's Tower is the most important remaining example of military architecture of the Canary Islands. It suffered under the attacks of the Corsairs, but could do little in the way of protecting this place, since it had been constructed to withstand uprisings by the islanders, rather than preventing the landing of less peacefully intent Berbers, English, and Dutch forces. The constructor Hernán Peraza thought in 1450, in the middle of the invasion process of the town centre, more of local attacks, than of the dangers from the sea.

Address: Calle de Ruiz de Padrón, 19, 38800 San Sebastián de La Gomera

The Lighthouse of Saint Christopher (Faro de San Cristóbal)

If you drive from San Sebastián towards Puntallana near the coast, on your right you will find a road of only a few hundred metres length (Camino del Faro), which leads to a beautiful lighthouse, that of Saint Christopher. This not only consist of one, but actually of two towers. The first lighthouse still rises through the ceiling of the old and well-maintained tenement of the lighthouse warden, which is small, but attractive due to its simplicity. Its vane follows the wind from its high view point above the headland. Behind the old lighthouse and the tenement, the  new, more robust lighthouse of Saint Christopher was erected.

Museums:

Columbus Museum (Museo Casa de Colón)

The “Columbus House” contains an important archaeological collection from the North of Peru, featuring pieces from the 8th to the 16th Century, mainly belonging to the Chimú culture. Inside this house, which used to belong to the Earl and was used for water supply purposes, you can find the Aguada Spring. It was here that Columbus provided his ships with fresh water prior to the crossing into the New World, which is why this spring is also known as Columbus Spring (Pozo de Colón).

Address: Calle Real,56, 38800 San Sebastián de La Gomera

Archaeological Museum

This museum introduces us to the culture of the old “Gomeros” (inhabitants of La Gomera). It is also a centre for cultural exploration, distribution, and promotion, which is the basis for its monument protection.

Address: Calle Real, 38800 San Sebastián de La Gomera

Activites:

San Sebastian is the entry point to the island via sea, its marina is the departure point for the many water activities and boat excursions. Hop on a boat trip to explore the stunning coastline and landscapes of the island, spot dolphins and whales, fishing or perhaps explore the intriguing underwater and sea creature this untouched island possesses. Several hiking and jeep tours also depart from this capital city of La Gomera.

Beaches:

Playa de San Sebastián

The harbour mole preventing a high wave swell enables untroubled bathing. Sunbathing on the black lava sand beach is also a delight. This beach offers bathing fun for the whole family, as it even offers a children's playground.

Playa de Cueva

This beach behind the cliffs at the harbour of San Sebastián is particularly well-maintained. Wave breakers protect bathers from strong surf on the 250 metre-long beach. There is a beautiful restaurant here, where you can sit outside and enjoy a wonderful view onto the sea and the rocky coastline.

Playa de la Guancha

High above the sea lies this lonely beach, situated south west of San Sebastián. An approximately 1.5 hour-long mountain path leads to the Playa de la Guancha. From here you have an outstanding view on the neighbouring island Tenerife and the atmosphere is unique.

Playa Abalo

If you drive along the country road signposted Lomo del Clavo towards Puntallana, this will take you to the Abalo beach. The bay of this beach leads into a deep gorge, whose end section transforms itself into a palm oasis before descending into the sea. Here, visitors can encounter a peaceful environment and clear, green water between the steep cliffs broken up by the gorge, to one side, and a deep-blue horizon to the other.

Shopping:

There are several beautiful terrace cafés on the centrally-located Plaza de la Constitution. In the shade of Indian laurel trees you can encounter locals and craftsmen on a farmer's market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, who sell their homemade jams, fresh fruits, mojo sauces, cheeses, typical pastries, and vegetables, as well as other delicacies. But even on days without markets, the capital of La Gomera offers shops for all requirements: clothing, shoes, sportswear, and many small supermarkets. Behind, and partially even under, the bus station (Estación de Guaguas, there is a large supermarket with a big selection. In front of it, there are many stalls selling fresh fish, vegetables, bread, flowers, and other foodstuffs.