It was Tazacorte in 1492 the land where the Castilian conquerors established their first settlements in the Aridane Valley, since there were the most fertile lands – the river of Tazacorte and La Caldera, only course of water of the island – and a coast that allowed easy communication with the rest of the world. Soon, the sugar cane became the main crop of the Hacienda de Abajo, located in Tazacorte, which constitutes the first, oldest, richest and most productive sugar plantation on La Palma – as it is revealed by the studies of Professor Jesús Pérez Morera. With a major sugar refinery built in the late 15th century or early 16th century by Mr. Juan Fernández de Lugo – nephew of the precocious conquistador Mr. Alonso Fernández de Lugo – such plantation was purchased in 1509 by the Welser company – German bankers of the Emperor Carlos V – who, in 1513, sold it to its german partners Mr. Jácome Monteverde and his uncle, don Johann Biess for 8.000 florins of gold. Once the sole owner of this property – including all its lands and waters from the sea to La Caldera de Taburiente, farm that also was their property – Mr. Jácome de Monteverde was the main owner of La Palma, due to the sale of the coveted sugar in Antwerp, international centre of trade. Thanks to this frenetic commercial activity, La Palma receives a set of sculptures and Flemish paintings that, still today, is the most important of the Canary Islands pertaining to the 16th century.
The hacienda built by Mr. Jácome de Monteverde (the last single-owner of Hacienda de Abajo) and expanded by his heirs was an urban residential and industrial complex with a central area where we could find the houses of the Lords, which had their main entrance towards the rising sun, and featured a great balcony lookout in their back façades to the West with astounding views to the sea, the reedbeds and the sugar factory. Inside these houses, and devised mainly for their embellishment, was a collection of magnificent opulency and utility objects imported from Flanders and Andalusia by virtue of the trade relations that were symbolized by the old mill, dismantled in 1840. Other buildings, where members of prominent families who had become part of the small group of owners of the Hacienda de Abajo by matrimonial alliance or sale lived, were added over the course of the years. Between these families the House of Sotomayor Topete, Lords of Lilloot, Berendrecht and Zuitland in the States of Flanders, stand out the most. Their members, due to their outstanding qualities, the nobility of their origin, their important matrimonial alliances and the opulence of the entailed estates which they held, played an outstanding role in the life of La Palma for centuries. This family’s origin in this island dates back to the marriage of Lady Ana de Monteverde, granddaughter of Lord Jácome de Monteverde, to Lord Juan de Sotomayor Topete, a noble knight from Cáceres, whose only son, Lord Pedro de Sotomayor Topete and Monteverde (1595-1655), married to Lady Werthen in Brabant, was “Governor of Arms” of La Palma and one of two of the island’s richest men. Lord Pedro José de Sotomayor Topete Massieu Vandale (1689-1750) built the Main House of Tazacorte during his marriage to Lady Catalina Cecilia de Sotomayor Topete y Alzola. This building was added to the number of properties that Lady Catalina founds for her second son Lord Nicolás José de Sotomayor Topete Massieu Vandale (1737-1814) and that is, still today, property of his descendants.