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Friday, August 27, 2021

Cristóbal de Ponte, founder of Garachico

Iglesia de Santa Ana (Church of Santa AnaWolfgang HolzemCC BY-SA 4.0
In 1520, Cristóbal de Ponte, the founder of Garachico, ceded a plot to construct the church.
The dedication of the church to Saint Anne was inspired by his wife, Ana de Vergara.

Cristóbal de Ponte (~1447-1532) was born in Genoa (Italy) and died in Tenerife. He participated with other compatriots, in financing the conquest of Tenerife; and his financial contribution must have been important, judging by the generous distributions of lands that resulted. Historian Cioranescu, relates that Cristóbal de Ponte was the first inhabitant of Garachico “at least, the first whose memory has been preserved. He had a house on his land since before 1499; he made a sugar mill around 1501 and water saw around 1504”.

"... a native of Genoa, patrician of said city and whose name was inscribed in the Libro d'oro della nobiltà di Genova (Golden Book of that city). He passed to Spain and entered the service of the Catholic Monarchs, who authorised him to attend the conquest of the Canary Islands and there he rendered important services to the Spanish sovereigns. These, to reward him, granted him extensive divisions in the district of Daute, Tenerife Island, where he settled in 1497. In the year 1500 he founded the city and port of Garachico."
Son of the also Genoese, Juan Esteban de Ponte, he lived in La Caleta de San Pedro, and his estate in El Tanque was located in the Realexo de Daute, above Garachico. He built on his property the chapel of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, later San Sebastián, where he maintained a clergyman chaplain. Cristóbal de Ponte married, in 1503, Ana de Vergara, who died in 1514, daughter of García de Vergara and María Hernández and sister of fellow conquistador and Sevillian Jewish conversoPedro de Vergara

Cristóbal de Ponte, overlooking the Parque Puerta de la Tierra

On the wall overlooking the Puerta de la Tierra in the park of the same name in Garachico, is this bust of Cristóbal de PonteTo commemorate him, the sculptor Eladio de la Cruz, made a high relief, bronze bust of the founder who appears flanked by the coats of arms of Genoa and Garachico. The work is displayed on three natural stone monoliths designed by Lorenzo Dorta García. Several anchors, some from the old port and others donated by the port authority of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, complete a paved and landscaped complex. 

In 1527 he was summoned by the Inquisition. He excused himself by saying he could not come because of his many years and ailments. In later writing he alleges that he is a sick man, very weak and skinny and has lost much of his sight in such a way that it is necessary for him to have a guide. Cristóbal de Ponte's will was opened upon his death in 1532, on May 11, before Antón Martín, public notary of Daute. His sons Bartolomé de Ponte retained the inheritance of Daute and Pedro de Ponte, that of Adeje.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles and Convento de San Francisco RobertoZNCC BY-SA 4.0
The former Franciscan convent - the oldest of the five convents that were built in the town - and church of Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles in Garachico, Tenerife, were founded by Cristóbal de Ponte, in 1524.
This church is burial place of the aforementioned founder and his wife, Doña Ana de Vergara.

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