The Battle of Aguere was fought here in 1494. The city was founded between 1496 and 1497 by Alonso Fernández de Lugo and was the capital of the island after the conclusion of the conquest of the islands. Later the city also became the capital of all of the Canary Islands. The coastal area was later raided by pirates. The University of La Laguna was founded in 1701.
The layout of the city, its streets and its environment are elements shared with colonial cities in the Americas and Old Havana in Cuba, Lima in Peru, Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, or San Juan de Puerto Rico, among others. Since the urban plan of the city of La Laguna was the model for these Latin American cities.
A declining population and economy in the 18th century resulted in the transfer of the capital to Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1723. Santa Cruz has since been the capital of the island of Tenerife and the sole capital of the Canary Islands until 1927, after which the capital of the archipelago has been shared with the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The Tenerife North Airport at Los Rodeos was opened in the 1930s and is today expanding with low cost airlines using it.
It was declared a World Heritage Site on 2 December 1999. Several streets of historical significance have been closed off to automobile traffic. La Laguna has often been called the “Florence of the Canary Islands”, this is due to its large number of churches and convents, as well as its old town and historic buildings.
Several tunnels, passages and underground vaults dating from the immediate aftermath of the founding of the city era have recently been found. These tunnels sometimes lie under very iconic buildings such as the Iglesia de la Concepción, the Cathedral of La Laguna and the former Convent of San Agustín, among others. Researchers believe that the present city of La Laguna has been raised, because now it does not have the same ground level as at the time of its founding. In some places it is more than one meter higher and buries what is underneath.