LA FUENTE SANTA
The so-called Fuente Santa, was a source of thermal waters, located to the south of the Fuencaliente coast and whose waters were attributed curative properties, being recognized by both the European colonizers, as well as the ancient inhabitants of the island.
The source was located on a high coastal cliff where there was a beach of pebbles and there, two tidal puddles were formed that the patients called San Lorenzo and San Blas. Thanks to their names, today we know what the therapies practiced consisted of.
While it flowed, in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was visited by famous sick and curious people, among which it is worth highlighting Don Pedro de Mendoza and Luján, 1st Adelantado of the South Seas and the Río de La Plata, founder of the city of Buenos Aires; Don Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, 2nd Adelantado of the South Seas and conqueror of Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina; Fray Gaspar de Frutuoso, eminent Portuguese geographer, author of the book Saudades da Terra; Leonardo Torriani, fortification engineer and official of the court of Felipe II; Fray Juan de Abreu Galindo, historian and author of one of the few descriptions of this source, who renamed it Tagragito, a name given to it by the ancient aborigines of the island, the Auarita, which means hot waters.
The seventeenth century is when it was most important. Sick people came to the island from all over Europe and America in search of a cure for their illnesses, which included syphilis, leprosy, rheumatism, osteoarthritis and any skin disease or wound healing. The water, transported in vats, was taken to Cuba and Antwerp from where it was sold in small containers. The wealth generated by the water from the Fuente Caliente made the island’s per capita income the highest in the Canary Islands, the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma the most visited and caused the entire southern tip to be named with the toponym of Fuencaliente as it is currently called.
Even the needs of the sick led to the founding of a small neighborhood called Las Indias because of the wealth that inhabited it. The fame was such that it crossed the border and soon its amazing cures were considered miraculous and that was when it changed its name to Fuente Santa, becoming the most famous spa in the Atlantic. But … When his popularity was higher, it all ended abruptly.
“On November 13, 1677, a quarter of an hour after the sun set, the earth shook and 23 mouths of Averno were opened on top of Los Corrales Mountain.” Thus, the story of Nicolás de Sotomayor begins where he tells how the moments of the eruption were lived and the despair that reigned due to the danger posed by the lava flows of burying the mythical spring. After several rivers of lava that diverted to the north and south of the recesses of the cliff where the pools were. At the end, on November 23 of that same year, ten days after the eruption began, a river of lava headed south towards the point where the cliff that preserved the source was born. Nothing could be done, tons of stone buried the ponds before the astonished eyes of the inhabitants and the sick.
There has never been so much despair.
The loss of this source meant the abrupt disappearance of the island’s greatest source of wealth. In the first moments, a true revolution took place on the island in which the supporters of rescuing it and those of leaving the source buried, as God had willed it, clashed so violently that the Inquisition had to intervene by sending its First Senior Officer of the Santo Oficio in the Canary Islands, Don Juan Pinto de Guisla, who made a report that together with a watercolor painting of the moment of the disappearance of the source, with the volcano in full eruption, it is preserved in the National Historical Archive of Madrid.
For more than three centuries the source was tirelessly searched. Except for the first attempt, carried out just ten years after the source was buried and starring patients and residents who still had memories of the location of the spring, the other attempts did not know the exact place where the thermal spring was buried. In all cases, an attempt was made to drill a well that, after passing 70 meters of filling of materials emitted by the San Antonio volcano, reached one of the two pools of San Lorenzo or San Blas. This is how Abreu Galindo and the following generations relate it, different drilling proposals and none with success.
There was also the question of the large stone cross or an elongated excavation that according to tradition and the writings of Juan de Paz and Antonio Joseph Palmerini, marked the location where the fountain was buried.
Since then and for 328 years the search for the source has marked the lives of the residents until in 2005, a team of engineers from the General Directorate of Waters of the Government of the Canary Islands were in charge of carrying out the search work by drilling A truly unique work of engineering, a 200-meter-long tunnel with a small section that, placed at sea level, allowed us to reach the exact point of the cliff where the San Lorenzo and San Blas ponds were once located where the water from the thermal spring flowed.
Once the Holy Spring was found, the Oliver Rodés Laboratory in Barcelona analyzed its waters, discovering the true reason for the miraculous cures: the water was sodium carbogasin chloride, the jewel of spa waters, the most sought after in Spain and never found. there are only two with this composition in Europe, Nauheim and Royat, in Frankfurt and Vichy, Germany and France respectively.
It can be said that the waters of the Fuente Santa are unique in Spain and the best in Europe for their high salt content, temperature and carbon dioxide. In the future, the objective is to establish itself in the area for the use of a thermal spa.