Situated in Puerto de la Cruz in the north of Tenerife, Sitio Litre is named after its creator, British merchant Archibald Little, although over the years his surname has evolved into “Litre”. The beauty of the gardens is legendary, and they have played host to some rather famous visitors, including Agatha Christie, since the eighteenth century. While it might not be the biggest or most high profile attraction on Tenerife, I humbly suggest that it may turn out to be the favourite of visiting gardeners or amateur botanists.
Prestige Recommends: Tenerife’s Oldest Orchid Garden
Many of our clients at Prestige Holidays are nature lovers. For those who want to get up close to Mother Nature’s most exquisite creations, there’s no better place to do it than the enchanting Sitio Litre, Tenerife’s oldest – and arguably most beautiful – orchid garden.
Sitio Litre: A Delight for the Senses
When Archibald Little purchased the property in 1774, he transformed it from a former convent to a site that’s home to an impressive mansion surrounded by lush gardens, planted with vibrant bougainvillea, fir trees, hibiscus and more than 350 species of orchids. Laid out thematically, the gardens are a tranquil and reflective space and, whether you have a systematic plan of exploration or simply want to stroll around and enjoy the ambience, there is so much to enjoy and learn in this lovely place.
An orchid aficionado has truly found Nirvana in this aromatic garden. Everywhere you walk, you’ll encounter one or another of the 350 varieties of orchids, which bloom along pathways, are attached to trees and peek out of other flowering bushes. Displaying blooms of every colour, shape and size, the number of orchids is simply astounding and I can honestly say that I have never seen such a dense concentration of these exotic flowers. While they may not strictly be growing wild, the gardens retain a sense of refined abandon and, although the orchids are very carefully tended, they don’t have the over-manicured look of some.
The Marianne North Terrace
Botanical artist Marianne North spent several months staying in the mansion at Sitio Litre, and the gardens were a constant source of creative inspiration to her. She travelled the world depicting rare and exotic species in her exquisite works, but her drawings of the gardens here are among her most acclaimed. More than 800 of her paintings are on permanent display at London’s famous Kew Gardens, but many can also be seen here, in the very place where she drew and painted them.
The Humboldt Garden
The famous German botanist Alexander von Humboldt travelled the world on his scientific voyages of discovery, but he declared the area of the Orotava Valley around Puerto de la Cruz to be the most beautiful landscape in the world. He stayed in the mansion in the eighteenth century while undertaking his exploration and research of El Teide, and often expressed a desire to live permanently in Tenerife.
A Beautiful Escape
The gardens’ most famous visitor was Agatha Christie, and the acclaimed author visited the mansion on a number of occasions for extended periods. Most notably, she escaped here with her daughter and assistant after the breakup of her marriage and her infamous fake “disappearance”. One can only assume that she found great solace in this enchanting place, as several of her best-known novels were written in the tranquil surrounds of Sitio Litre.
Alongside the orchid gardens of Sitio Litre, there are several other sites of great interest that I always recommend to clients who are looking to make the most of Puerto de la Cruz’s natural parks and gardens.
The 60,000-square metre Botanico Gardens are home to more than 5,000 species of exotic plantings. They were originally created as a midway holding point for collected specimens, which were intended for the gardens of King Carlos. However, the Spanish winters were too harsh for the flora, and so it remained to thrive in its lush, sub-tropical home.
Park Taoro, behind the town’s casino, sprawls across 100,000 square metres of terraces, and is filled with cacti, palms and flowering plants. It’s a true delight to wander along the pathways, and past cascading waterfalls and rock pools. Just a short distance away, the Risco Bello water gardens feel a million miles away from the rest of the world. One of my favourite things to do in Puerto de la Cruz is to enjoy a few hours of solitude amongst the statues, fountains and cobbled pathways of these lovely gardens.
Recommended Accommodation: The Botanico
I can’t think of any better hotel recommendation than the beautiful Botanico. This superb hotel is set amongst its own glorious grounds, right next to the town’s Botanical Gardens.You’ll be able to choose from a variety of tranquil settings in which to relax, including the exotic Oriental Spa garden. The rooms and suites offer views over Mount Teide or the ocean and, for those looking to make the most of the luxury the hotel provides, a stay in one of the penthouse suites is the ultimate treat.