Our history

The Sitio Litre Orchid Garden is a real jewel in the paradise that is already Tenerife. A haven of peace and nature steeped in history in the very centre of Puerto de la Cruz. Undoubtedly, a visit not to be missed.

Sitio Litre

Once upon a time…

The mansion was built in 1730 and it seems was originally the headquarters and wine cellars of a Dutch wine exporting company.

In 1774 it was purchased by a Mr. Archibald Little, a British merchant whose family owned the house until 1854 (thereby the name Little’s Place, in Spanish SITIO LITRE). In 1856 the property was bought by a Mr. Charles Smith whose family have owned the house right up until 1996, a period of 140 years. The historic English garden was first planned by the Little family, and added to by the Smith family.

Our distinguished visitors

Many famous personalities have spent time in SITIO LITRE either as house guests or simply as guests at the numerous garden parties given in the magic garden.

Amongst the most famous house guests were William Wilde, the father of Oscar Wilde, but possibly the most famous of all was Marianne North, the well known botanical painter, who lived in this house for two months in 1875, she is remembered in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, where all her 832 paintings are on view.

Many of her Tenerife works were painted in this garden (and we have placed copies of these around the garden, so you can see that even after 130 years, the garden is practically the same)

Richard Francis Burton in Puerto de la Cruz
Richard Francis Burton
Sir William Wilde at the Orchid Garden
William Wilde

Party guests were numerous, but to name only three, we can mention Sir Richard Francis Burton, who passed through Tenerife on two occasions between 1860 and 1863. Sir Richard was the first European to enter the holy city of Mecca (dressed as a Muslim), he also discovered lake Tanganika. But he is best known for having translated the three erotic works of the east into English, these being “The Kamasutra”, “The perfumed garden” and “The Arabian Nights”.

Many years later Agatha Christie and her daughter Rosalyn were on holiday in Puerto de la Cruz, the year was 1927 and she had just divorced her first husband, she was so inspired by the gardens that she wrote one of her novels, basing the plot in Puerto de la Cruz “The mysterious Mr.Quin”.

The first of all these guests should not be forgotten, he was one of the world’s most famous discoverers and botanist. The famous German explorer Alexander Von Humboldt, he was the guest of honour at a party given for him on June 23rd 1799 by Mr Archibald Little.

Agatha Christie in Puerto de la Cruz, discover her stay in the orchid garden at Sitio Litre
Agatha Christie
Alexander von Humboldt passed through Sitio Litre, discover his stay in Puerto de la Cruz.
Alexander von Humboldt

The house is still a private residence but the owners have decided to open the gardens to visitors, so they can savour this “Vision of Eden” and view the lovely collection of orchids, possibly the best in the Canary Islands. The SITIO LITRE garden is the oldest surviving garden in Tenerife, now 235 years old. It has been owned continuously by British families since 1774.

Sitio Litre: a must in Puerto de la Cruz

Without further ado, we invite you to enjoy and savour this garden of Eden, which is unique on the island for its variety, its colour and, of course, for the glorious history of its environment, being the oldest garden on the island.