The municipality of the orotava It can boast of an important commercial and economic life at present, which sometimes has its roots in a business tradition capable of staying alive for centuries. In a world like today, with constant and fast changes, it is not common for companies to be able to resist for too long. Those chosen to survive are a relevant minority, valuable exceptions that the Town Hall of La Orotava has wanted to recognize with its highest institutional distinction: the Gold Medal of the Villa. Its 14 hundred-year-old companies have received it, a heterogeneous group that includes two mills from the 16th and 17th centuries; a bar, a pharmacy and textile stores from the 19th century, and a handful of businesses that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century: Afonso Shoes (1904), Orotava Hardware Store (1904), Santiago Bakery (1906), García Feo Commerce (1909), La Fast (1914), the Confectionery and Café Taoro (1916), the Plaza Kiosk (1916), La Venta Nueva (1918) and Bar Fariña (1920).
The oldest are the Chano Gofio Millbuilt at the beginning of the 16th century by Bartolomé Benítez de Lugo (around 1514), and the Gofio Mill La Máquina, ordered to be built in 1634 by Juan de Ponte, in the 17th century. Both are still active and continue to roast and grind grain to make different types of gofio. They are living history of the Canary Islands.
In the 19th century, that of Napoleon, Darwin, the industrial revolution and the disintegration of the Spanish empire, a bar, a pharmacy and a textile business were set up in La Orotava and are still active today. Are the Fuentes Pharmacy (1879), the Herreros Stores (1898) and the Chucho-Casa Emiliano Bar (1899), in La Cruz del Teide. This pharmacy, a family business founded by Saturio Fuentes González, is in the hands of a fourth generation that still retains part of its old furniture and decoration.
From the 16th to the 21st century
The Villa paid homage to two mills from the 16th and 17th centuries; a bar, a pharmacy and some textile stores from the 19th century, and nine other businesses that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century: Calzados Afonso (1904), Ferretería Orotava (1904), Panadería Santiago (1906), Comercio García Feo (1909), La Fast (1914), Confitería y Café Taoro (1916), La Venta Nueva (1918), the Kiosk of the square (1916) and the Bar Fariña (1920).
In 1898, the year that Spain lost Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, a tailor named Miguel Herreros Gonzalez created a textile business that his heirs, now for the fourth generation, keep active on the islands and with international business lines that have reached countries like Senegal or Chinese.
The list is completed with the other nine businesses that began their activity at the beginning of the 20th century, between 1904 and 1920. As Calzados Afonso and the Orotava hardware store, both located since 1904 on Carrera street, very close to the town hall. Or the Ugly Garcia Businessfounded by Casiano García Feo, originally from Granadilla de Abona, in 1909. It sold “almost everything”, but especially products for agricultural consumption, later specializing in the sale of textile products, under the name Tejidos García Feo.
A tailor named Miguel Herreros started a textile business in La Orotava when Spain lost Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Also the oldest artisan pastry shop in the Canary Islands, founded in 1916 by the German Egón Alfred Wende, who continues to sweeten the lives of the villeros and their visitors. The historic Egon House, which remains more alive than ever. Wave Santiago Bakery, founded in 1906 by Rosalía Sálamo and later run by her son Santiago Bautista Sálamo. Now run by a third generation.
The delivery of these 14 Gold Medals of La Orotava to its hundred-year-old companies is a tribute to its trajectory, history and contribution to the development of the local economy, which had already been publicly recognized to most of these establishments in 2017 and 2019, when they also received the Gold Medal of the Cabildo de Tenerife. Now the town council announces that all will be part of a book and a documentary video «so that the history and uniqueness of each one can be known, giving voice to the main protagonists of these hundred-year-old businesses that are a reflection of many others in the Villa in which familiarity, commitment, work, perseverance prevail, the effort, the struggle and the ability to overcome many obstacles and complex situations”.