Plaza de los Patos, the Sweetest Square in Santa Cruz

It would be too easy to visit Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, and completely overlook one of its nicest little plazas.

Visitors who don’t possess a good guide to Santa Cruz and who stick to the port area are probably unlikely to accidentally stumble on Plaza de los Patos as it’s tucked away in the streets inland from the city centre at Plaza España.

The square’s official title is Plaza 25 de Julio; the date on which the residents of Santa Cruz, aided and abetted by Tinerfeños from around the island, saw off Admiral Nelson. But locally everyone knows it as Plaza de los Patos – Duck Square.

The plaza is simply a little oasis of charm surrounded by Indian laurels and palm trees which provide cooling shade from the sun.

The centrepiece of the plaza is an almost exact replica of the Fuente de las Ranas (fountain of the frogs) in Parque de María Luisa, Seville. Like the Fuente de las Ranas it consists of colourful painted tiles, a circle of ceramic frogs and, in the fountain itself, a duck atop a submerged turtle.

But pleasing to the eye though it is, the frog and duck fountain isn’t my favourite part of the plaza, the benches are. These are also attractively tiled (cooling on hot, sun-kissed legs) but their charm lies in the scenes painted on them. Each bench displays an image advertising products sold by the companies who contributed to the construction of Plaza de los Patos.

As well as being a fun and fascinating look at advertising that pre-dates the MadMen, the adverts also suggest that Santa Cruz in the first half of the 20th century might actually have had more international influences than it does now.

They are are a mix of Spanish and English and whilst some benches promote fabricas de tabacos and salazar (salted fish), others advertise Danish butter, Belgian matches (that are ‘impregnated’ and ‘do not glow’ – no doubt a big selling point at that time). Others, strangely, have an American slant with scenes of Buick cars and Mohawks tyres.

Ultimately, Plaza de los Patos is a pleasing curio of a spot in which to take a short rest from exploring the city. It’s also a tasty little appetiser for the equally imaginative but infinitely bigger Parque García Sanabria which lies further along the avenue.

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