Las Palmas and Gran Canaria
The second most populous island in the archipelago, it is also the most central island, the variety and diversity of its climates and landscapes sometimes make it compare to a mini-continent.
With 46% of its territory classified as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, the island alternates, on more than 200 km of coastline with intense nautical activities, beaches and coves, cliffs and stretches of wild sand as in Güi-Güi.
Gran Canaria, with its waters between 18° in winter and 22° in summer, is the ideal place to practise marine sports all year round, making its beaches international events of nautical activities, in particular windsurfing competitions.
The interior has an abrupt relief, sometimes arid, in which the Canarian pine generally dominates. In the bottom of some valleys lie some palm groves.
In the centre, rising up to 1950, the Pic de las Nieves is the target of numerous hikes that can be enjoyed by one of the many trails that run through the hinterland. A natural way of discovering lost hamlets, small villages with narrow alleys and a fauna and flora endemic to the islands.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the capital, is situated in the northeast of the island, where the largest port in the archipelago is located. A highway, GC-1, links the city to the airport and the south of the island. A second, GC-2 leads northwest to the town of Agaete.
The island is connected to the archipelago and mainland Europe by boat or airplane.
Monuments and visits of Las Palmas and Around
Castle of the Luz. Martín Chirino Foundation for Art and Thought
Calle Juan Rejón. Palmas de Gran Canaría.
Originally built in the 16th century in the north of the island, on the seaside to fight against attacks by English or Dutch pirates, the castle of La Luz is the oldest fortress of Gran Canaria. Today, the castle houses the seat of the foundation of the Canarian sculptor Martín Chirino, with 25 works on display.
Visits Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm, until 2 pm on Sundays and public holidays. Admission: 4 €.
Congress Centre Casa de Colón
Calle Colón, 1. Las Palmas de Gran Canaría.
More than five centuries old, the House of Columbus is located in the Governor’s former residence. Composed of five thematic zones, the museum is dedicated to researching and disseminating the history of the Canary Islands and their relations with the Americas.
In addition to a collection of paintings dating from the 16th to the 10th centuries, Christopher Columbus’ travels and his passage to the Canary Islands, as well as the cultures of the Amerindian peoples, are traced here.
Open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays until 3 pm. Admission: 4 €.
Canary Islands Museum
Calle Doctor Verneau, 2. Vegueta. In the south of Las Palmas.
Lodged in Vegueta in a building dating from the late 19th century, the Canary Islands Museum is considered to be an essential reference for pre-Hispanic Canary Islands culture in the Canary Islands. Archaeological and ethnographic objects as well as a collection of 2000 prehistoric skulls are on display.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 8 pm, until 2 pm on weekends and public holidays. Admission: 4 €.
Canary Islands Botanical Garden Viera y Clavijo
Camino del Palmeral, 15.
The “Garden of the Canaries”, as it is sometimes called, was founded by a Swedish botanist Eric Sventenius in 1952. Its primary vocation was to protect the endemic botanical species of the Canary Islands, but if it allows to know all the diversity of island ecosystems, the garden has since been enriched with varieties from all over the world.
Opening hours: every day from 9 am to 7:30 pm, until 6 pm from October to May. Free admission.
Las Hoyas 2. Arucas.
em>Access: From Las Palmas via GC-23 and GC-3 or GC-2 and GC-20 coastal roads.
Located near the town of Arucas, the Gardens of the Marquise were created in 1880 by the first Marquis of Arucas, Don Ramón Madan y Uriondo, passionate about botany, and his wife Doña María.
This large romantic garden with its regular layout, benefiting from a microclimate induced by the protection of the Arucas mountain and its proximity, presents 2500 plants belonging to 400 tropical and subtropical species from the five continents. On this five hectares of land, among all these magnificent trees, stands out a dragon tree that is 400 to 500 years old.
Opening hours: open all year round, Monday to Saturday, 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm. Closed on Sundays and holidays.
The Gáldar cave cave
Calle Audienca, 2. Gáldar. Access by GC-2 coastal road.
The Cueva Pintada is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Canarian archipelago, both for its scientific value and for the Aboriginal works of art in the painted cave.
Discovered during agricultural work in 1873, it presents exclusively geometric motifs painted in red and white on a black background. The “Painted Grotto” and its museum are open from September to May from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays and public holidays from 11 am to 6 pm. From June to September from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 11 am to 7 pm on Sundays and holidays. Admission: 6 €.
Carretera del Hoyo Tocodomán. La Aldea de San Nicolás.
Access: From Las Palmas via roads GC-23, GC-21, GC-210, coming from Maspalomas via GC-500 and GC-200.
Located to the west of Gran Canaría, Cactualdea has a collection of 1200 varieties of cactus, some from South or Central America or Madagascar. In addition to these cactuses, many palm or aloe trees live among which live many birds including ostriches or peacocks. Open all year round from 10 am to 6 pm.
Visits Gran Canaria
San Bartolomé de Tirajana
All lands in the municipality of San Bartolomé at an altitude of more than 300 metres are included in the area declared a Biosphere Reserve in 2005 by UNESCO. It occupies 43% of the territory of Gran Canaria. For San Bartolomé and the park, take route GC-60.
Pilancones Natural Park
Located in one of the island’s highest areas, Pilancones Park offers a succession of high plateaus interspersed with deep ravines. Landscapes composed of 12 million years old materials are magnificent.
Classified as a Bird Protected Area, the park, with an area of 5800 ha, has the largest pine forest in Gran Canaría and an important concentration of euphorbia.
Situated about ten kilometres south of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, the necropolis of Arteara, a vast archaeological complex dating from 2000 years ago, is classified as a historical-artistic monument.
Of pre-Hispanic origin, this cemetery contains in the 2000 burial mounds erected by means of lava stones, one of which, imposing and central, would be that of a king. The village of Arteara is reached from Maspalomas by the GC-60 road, direction San Bartolomé de Tirajana.
Pico de Las Nieves
The highest summit in the centre of the island, the Pico de las Nieves, 1949 m, offers an extraordinary panoramic view of the area of the biosphere reserve that spreads around it. A road climbs up and ends at a car park on which opens a semicircle of stone facing due west forming the viewpoint.
From there, in the late afternoon, it’s a beautiful sunset, sometimes on a sea of clouds that awaits the visitor. The Roque Nublo can be seen in the foreground, followed by the ocean and the island of Tenerife.
It is accessed from the east via GC-120 and GC-130, from the north via GC-150 and 600.
Situated in the center of the island in a depression resulting from a volcanic crater surmounted by mountains, the village of Tejeda is surrounded by several rocky promontories including the emblematic Roque Nublo. Culminating at 1813 m, this imposing lava rock, visible from afar, appears as if it were placed on the top of the mountain.
This is achieved after having climbed the path that starts from the parking lot where the vehicles are abandoned for about 45 minutes. Note the beautiful little white church with red tiles of the village. Access: from the south of the island via GC-60, from the east GC-15 and from the north via GC-210.
The dunes of Maspalomas
Between city and ocean, the dunes of Maspalomas offer the strange spectacle of a sea of desert dunes deposited there by the African winds. Some of these beautiful miniature dunes can reach up to ten meters, making their crossing a bit difficult.
The city of Maspalomas, with its numerous hotel structures and two golf courses, is the most important seaside resort and the largest city in the south of the island.
Barranco de Guayadeque
The gorges of Guayadeques are famous for their large concentration of traditional troglodyte dwellings on the island. Formerly inhabited by farming families, some of them have been restored and converted into lodgings, restaurants or craft shops. The GC-103 road leading along a river from Agüimes ends at the cul-de-sac.
The second city of Gran Canaría, Telde is situated on the edge of the ocean to the east of the island in a fertile plain called “la vega mayor”, the large meadow where sugar cane and banana trees grow…
The San Juan district, the historical heart of this town, is organized around the original church of San Juan Bautista, remarkable for its chapel composed of two altarpieces, one of which displays a 17th century baroque style and the second Flemish Gothic.
Imported from the Americas, we can see a Christ on the millet paste cross. The San Francisco neighborhood is made up of low houses with whitewashed walls and gable roofs.
The alleys are paved, winding and narrow. The San Gregorío district is home to most of the shops and craft shops.
The territory of the commune is dotted with interesting archaeological sites, dating back to pre-Hispanic times, where 2 kingdoms Guanches, the original inhabitants, shared the island.
Several of these sites, Cendro, Baladero or Tara, are composed of a vast group of natural caves of volcanic origin and troglodyte habitats. Baladero, an important place of Aboriginal culture in which magic and religion coexisted, is located at the foot of the San Francisco neighborhood.
Close to the centre, cliffs and lava beaches, small bays such as Gando, one of the island’s first natural harbours, offer plenty of water sports.
Access: from Las Palmas de Gran Canaría via GC-1 and GC-10 roads.
Agaete la blanche, located on the north-western coast, was founded in the seventeenth century around the hermitage Nuestra Señora de las Nieves and its port, which was an important sugarcane export port. Steep cliffs jutting into the ocean, a backcountry with lush vegetation and lacerated precipices, beautiful beaches, characterize the landscapes surrounding this small city traditionally turned towards the Atlantic.
Witness of the pre-Hispanic period, the necropolis of Maipés, classified as a historical monument, contains 600 tombs from the Guanche period, of which one can observe cave paintings at the Cueva Pintada de Gáldar, a locality located a few kilometres north-east of Agaete.
Another special feature of Agaete is its Salinas: three natural seawater pools protected from the ocean by what could resemble a fortified castle with its protective crenelated concrete pylons. It is easily accessible from the port of Las Nieves, which, among other things, provides maritime links to the Tenerife pier.
Access: by GC-2 along the north coast of the island from Las Palmas.
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