This unique landscape of the Maspalomas Sand Dunes stretches over 5.3 miles (8.5 km) to an over 100-year-old... lighthouse. The sight of the endless, gold-yellow glistening mountains of sand give the viewer the impression that s/he is standing in the desert of Africa. The picture is completed by camels on whom tourists ride through the area. The sand of the more than 32-ft (10 m) high dunes was not blown over from the Sahara - as often presumed – but has maritime origins; it is made of finely grind lime shells of mussels.
The area became a protected area due to its unusual vegetation. The stringent regulation in conjunction with it came just in time for the nearby lagoon lake Lagunensee (La Charca de Maspalomas) – it nearly fell victim to the building boom. Numerous migratory birds use the oasis of palms around the lake as their resting place. The nature conservatory, which today includes the dunes, lagoon lake and palm grove is unique on the the Canary Islands.more
City: Puerto de Mogán in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
Situated in the fertile mouth of the Barranco de Mogán, Puerto de Mogán is markedly different from... other places on the east coast. While innumerable apartment complexes and hotel high rises are crawling up the rocks in the neighboring tourist centers, Puerto de Mogán shows some detail and style with its narrow alleys, little houses, wrought-iron balconies and lushly planted courtyards.
While only a few fishermen and their families lived here at the beginning of the 1980s, in the meantime the town has developed into a gem of the tourism industry. In front of the old village, which was built on a slope, a new vacation town including a yacht harbor was constructed, fondly called “little Venice” due to its canals, waterways and bridges. Today Puerto de Mogán is the destination for innumerable day-trippers who wander through alleys with nostalgic street lamps, drink coffee in one of the bars in the main plaza and enjoy the atmosphere, which is unique in Grand Canary.more
At 4,166 ft (1,270 m) elevation, Artenara is the highest village of the island placed amidst a picturesque... and still relatively untouched landscape. Yet, that is not the only reason for visiting: a part of the population still lives in cave apartments today, which do not differ from other houses at first sight. Many cuevas have actual house fronts built on to them. Life of today's cave inhabitants does not resemble that of their ancestors: the apartments are equipped with every comfort as seen with the TV antennas mounted on the exterior walls.
A wooden tower with a bell points to the chapel Nuestra Señora de la Cuevita, which was already cut into the rock in the 17th century. Even the altar, the confessional, the baptismal font and candle holders were made from tuff stone. The little church was named after the “virgin of the little cave”, the patron saint of Artenara. Many people visit the cave chapel for worship and prayer during the day.more
City: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
The two former city palaces have been turned into a gorgeous museum complex: the late-Gothic Casa del... Gobernador (Governor’s Palace) and a smaller private palace. Although there is no clear record, it is assumed that Columbus stayed with the local governor shortly before continuing his journey to the west, while he had to have one of his three ships repaired. Until his death, the palace was under the ownership of the world-famous, local-born tenor Alfredo Kraus (1927-1999), even though later on in his life, he did not live in this house, but in Lanzarote and Madrid.
The original Gothic two-story entrance portal, with its rich stone carvings is exceptionally magnificent. Equally beautiful are the heavy, roofed wood balconies on the second floor. Inside the museum, many different objects commemorating Columbus and his expedition can be marveled at, among them the original cabin from his ship Santa Maria.more
City: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
Las Palmas is a city of many faces: behind the cool facades of austere concrete buildings and multi-lane... highways, there are winding alleys, chic shops, interesting museums and pompous mansions hiding. One day is not enough to discover the lively and cosmopolitan metropolis and all its facets.
The oldest and probably most romantic part of Las Palmas is the district of Vegueta, where splendid palaces and churches remind of a glamorous past - after all, Las Palmas was the first colonial town of the kingdom. The walls of the quarter marked the former border around the city center for almost four centuries, which expanded northwards only around the middle of the 20th century. The center of the old town is Plaza de Santa Ana surrounded by palm trees, which is dominated by the impressive Catredal de Santa Ana. Named after the patron saint of the Spanish conquistadores, the cathedral is a unique composition of Gothic, baroque, classical and Canarian styles.more
For the first time in 25 years, the famous Cueva Pintada can be viewed again. It was included in an archaeological... park with a museum, where visitors are extensively informed about the culture and everyday life of the Canarian indigenous people.
The Cueva Pintada was discovered in the town center of Gáldar in 1873, close to the spot where once an old Canarian palace stood before Gran Canaria was captured. The cave contained ceramic vessels interpreted as burial objects and human skeletons. The multicolored geometrical patterns that used to decorate their walls about 2000 years ago are worth paying attention to. Valuable cave paintings like these cannot be found anywhere else on the Canary Islands.more
City: Puerto de las Nieves in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
Amidst a picturesque landscape on the coast near Agaete lies the small fishing village Puerto de las... Nieves. Its cozy atmosphere draws numerous visitors from the capital on the weekends. A walk through the winding alleys leads past the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, which hosts a masterpiece of Flemish painting inside: the main painting of the threepart winged altar by artist Joos van Cleve from the 15th century depicting Mary and the Child. The two side parts portraying Saint Francis and Saint Antonthy are at the parish church of Agaete. The wings of the altar are presented together only once a year at Bajada de la Rama from August 4th-7th.
At noon you can have excellent fish on the patio of numerous restaurants. The symbol of the town, the tip of a rock rising out of the sea called Dedo de Dios (God's finger) fell victim to an autumn storm in 2005.more
On an 110,000-m² area an attempt has been made at reenact village life at the time of the Old Canarians,... before the conquest by the Spanish (1483). It is an instructive tour for the entire family. The signage is translated into several languages, including German – a pleasant surprise when compared to many museums on the island.
Scenes reenacted with plastic figures show potters, carpenters, rush weavers and fur sewers at work. Situations such as births and funerals are depicted, even mummifications, which, for the Old Canarians similar to Ancient Egypt was part of the death cult. In some barns, Canarian giant hogs (real ones!) grunt happily. Gran Canaria’s flora is also explained and the utilization of different herbs by the Guanches. There are several bars and a shuttle bus from Playa del Inglés.more
As early as 1880, the first marquis of Arucas, Ramón Madan y Uriondo, in collaboration with his wife... María del Rosario González y Fernández del Campo, commissioned this large romantic garden, known today as Jardín de la Marquesa or Jardín de los Hespérides. The two chose this location specifically because it is protected by the nearby mountains and still has a maritime climate, creating a good microclimate. It enables the plant life to flourish: over 2,500 specimens of almost 400 tropical and sub-tropical species.
The botany enthusiast margrave was able to collect plants from five continents in his five-hectare park. Among the ever-admired trees stands a magnificent dragon tree, whose age is estimated at 400 to 500 years.more
City: Santa María de Guía de Gran Canaria in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
This impressive Guanche site has a basalt ceiling, is 30 meters wide and equally high. Here, 298 caves... have been dug into the soft tuff stone, honeycomb-like. It was used for crop storage and as a convent. The Guanches always stored their grain stocks in caves, which were easy to guard. In Cenobio they were probably watched by Hermiguadas, nuns, possibly under the control of the high priest.
The longhaired noblemen – common people had to keep their hair close-cropped – brought their nubile daughters here. The young women were taught in all arts important for home and marriage and additionally properly fed. For the Guanches were convinced that only women with wide hips and plump breasts could bear healthy, strong children.more
Bentaiga, the “holy mountain” of the Guanches, rises amid the peak-filled landscape between Cruz... de Tejeda and Roque Nublo, set slightly to the west. The thin peak of the cliff rises noticeably from the sea of fog, which is often found here and which gives everything a slightly mystical touch.
By the parking lot at the base of Roque, the Centro de Interpretación Arqueológico del Bentaiga was founded with a small collection and information on the history of the holy mountain. Furthermore, one can wait here for a guide to extend an invitation for a tour. Those wishing to complete the ascent without help should be careful. It is impossible without sturdy shoes, and participants must not have a fear of heights or be prone to dizziness, because the last part on narrow steps has no kind of safeguard and is quite the challenge. And one has to be willing to help each other up. But then one stands, huffing and puffing, before a magnificent view and before an almogare, the archipelago’s best-preserved cult site of the Old-Canarians. In the stone-hewn rectangle, deep ridges are connected with a circular basin in the middle - an altar for libation, it is assumed. The old Canarians came to the fixed cult sites in processions, when they begged their god for rain or cures from illnesses; in times of war they begged for victory over their enemies.more
City: La Sorrueda in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
During the drive from San Bartolomé de Tirajana via Santa Lucia de Tirajana, a rock castle, the Fortaleza... de Ansite (in Spanish Fortaleza Grande) comes into view from afar on the right hand side. About four kilometers southeast of Santa Lucía, a side street veers off due south to La Sorrueda village. From the parking lot, which also serves the Grancanarios as a fairground, a path leads up to the bizarre, cave-riddled rock formation. A natural tunnel pierces a mighty grotto, clearing the view of the rugged Barranco de Tirajana and the Roque Aguayro.
This dramatic mountainscape in the center of Gran Canaria gave the Spanish conquerors a hard time. The flatter coastal region had already been conquered in 1478 following strong resistance by the Guanches. Their military leader and his entourage retreated into the forbidding mountain region. Around the Fortaleza, the battle and fall of a brave people can still be relived in spirit today. For it was here that two convinced Guanches rather plunged to their death, than capitulate to the Spanish like their comrades and be baptized. On April 29th, homage is paid to these heroes during a big celebration.more
The path from the country road to Huimaga Mountain is short and it is apparent even from afar that nature... has been altered here, since halfway up four openings have been blasted into the cliff as entry points into a large cave. Hence the Spanish name “cuatro puertas”, four doors.
For the former inhabitants of the Canary Islands, this area presumably served as a place of worship and assembly. For above the cave, there is a libation altar with the characteristic carvings known from other locations such as Roque Bentaiga. Just like the latter place of worship, Huimaga is regarded as an Almogaren, a holy mountain. On its southern side, there is a system of caves, which might have served as a place of refuge for the Guanches.more
City: Pinos de Gáldar in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
The drive from Cruz de Tejeda alone rewards travellers with scenic beauty and with great views of the... mountainscape of northern Gran Canaria. It runs along the slopes of Moriscoa Mountain (1,764 meters), which used to be overgrown with Spanish chestnuts.
Careful: After a sharp left-hand curve, the street suddenly drops to the gorgeous, almost majestic Pinos del Gáldar crater. One usually does not climb down into crater, which is surrounded by green, tall pines (Pinos in Spanish), but rather marvels at it from Mirador, the lookout point by the roadside. Thus, one gazes into a deep, black abyss of coarse lava ash, or Picón in Spanish. This has the benefit of retaining very well even the smallest amounts of dew, Picón is otherwise known from hydroponics, albeit in a slightly lighter or sand-colored tone. Canarian farmers use the pellets for field crops.more
City: Tafira Alta in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
In 1952, a Swede (Eric Sventenius) planted this fantastic garden, named after the author of the plant... encyclopedia of the Canary Islands, José Vieira y Clavijo, and served as its director until his death. What is special about this botanical garden, apart from its diversity of plants, is its location on the steep slope of the Barranco de Guiniguada hillside. For example, a wooden bridge has to be crossed in order to access the more level ground. Along the way, which leads past caves and cascades, you will also come across paved paths and steps.
Of course, the main focus is on the endemic flowers and plants of the Canary Islands, but also of the other islands of Micronesia, i.e. Madeira, the Azores and the Cape Verde Islands. The individual species can be found in individual, terraced areas, where they grow in a natural surrounding. The little laurel jungle, referred to as laurissilva, for example, covered the entire island during pre-Spanish times. The Canarian pines, dragon trees, heathers and around 2000 succulents are exceptionally beautiful.more
A classicistic pilgrim church from 1760 to 1767, whose façade was altered by famous Gran Canarian artist... Luján Pérez, Nuestra Señora del Pino stands on a wide terrace. It is dedicated to the miraculous “Our Lady of the Pine”, who is also the patron saint of the entire diocese of the Canary Islands. The small late 15th-century sculpture is merely 1.05 m high, but is richly decorated and stands in a tabernacle of pure silver behind the high altar. Behind it, there is a room for the countless votive offerings and the precious robes of the Madonna, who wears them in turns.
On September 7th and 8th, all of Teror is turned upside down, when the big pilgrimage takes place. Because on the 8th of September 1481, when most settlements on the island had been conquered by the Spanish and had been christianized, the citizens of Teror were supposed to be baptized. They resisted vehemently until a Madonna with child appeared before them under a pine tree, whereupon they went to Las Palmas in order to be collectively baptized.more
Located in the birthplace of Canarian poet Placeres Torón (1885-1938), which was also his place of death,... is an interesting museum dedicated to the brothers of an influential Canarian family, Fernando and Juan de León y Castillo, who in turn were born here in the middle of the 19th century and who contributed considerably to the economic development of the region - Fernando as a politician (he was the Spanish secretary of state), and Juan as an engineer supervising the construction works of the harbor of Las Palmas.
The picturesque city palace consists of two parts and thus contains not one courtyard, as is the custom on the Canaries, but two. It holds around 1,200 documents, which form a significant foundation regarding the history of 19th-century Spain. They have been digitalized by now and are available to universities and researchers worldwide. More interesting to normal visitors are the private documents, letters and furniture from the politician’s estate as well as his personal collection of paintings, which he bequeathed to his hometown.more
City: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
In 1989, the interior of the fully gutted classicistic palace received an ultramodern architecture as... the seat of an arts center, which regards itself as a cultural hub connecting Europe, Africa and America. Spanish as well as international art forms the core, but what makes the CAAM exciting are its interesting temporary exhibits of contemporary art as well as its documentation and study center on the same subject.
For the local population, the CAAM is even more significant as a location for seminars accompanying art lessons for students and teachers alike. But even those merely wishing to experience the special atmosphere of this complex composed of traditional Canarian and modern architecture, can simply step in during opening hours. Visitors can also climb onto the flat roof, which affords an unbelievably beautiful view across the roofs of the old town and the ocean – it’s free of charge.more
City: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
This museum is full of life due to its many hands-on programs and belongs to one of the private foundations... for cultural institutions, which are becoming more and more common in the Canaries. Thus, the museum’s library is well-equipped and highly frequented, since school and university students alike find everything they need to know about the stories of the archipelago.
More interesting for visitors are the findings from archeological digs, which, in part, were financed by the museum itself.
Since only about a third of the finds can be displayed in the tight space of the rooms, it rather resembles a temporary exhibit changing time and again. The most important exhibits from burial mounds and caves date back to the time of the conquest of the Canary Islands. Since the original Cueva Pintada of Gáldar with its geometric fresco could not be visited for the longest time, a true-to-detail copy was built here in the Museo Canario.more
City: Valle de Agaete in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
This is a lovely valley for hiking and exploring! About 4,6 mi (7 km) long, it runs from the northwest... coast behind the village of Agaete into the interior of the island. It is possibly the most fertile and prosperous valley of Gran Canaria and thus a popular address among those wishing to flee the city. One must avoid building too many of the pretty villas in Canarian style here… But until now, things are still as they should be. A few fincas have started to offer small holiday apartments or rooms for rent. The restaurant Casa Romantica includes a little museum and, near the end of the valley, the wonderfully old-fashioned health spa called Balneario Los Berrazales lies at the foot of the 3550 ft (1,082 m) high Gordo.more
City: Santa Lucia de Tirajana in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
Those interested in the history of the Guanches will get a kick out of Santa Lucia’s slightly bizarre... private museum, whose architecture alone is far from ordinary: a kind of fort amidst one of the city’s ordinary residential neighborhoods. It is the creation of the former mayor of Santa Lucía, the now deceased Vicente Sánchez Araña. He was an ardent worshipper of Old Catalonian culture and spent his entire assets on this museum. He also published tirelessly about his finds and discoveries. The resulting works can be bought in the museum shop. One can stop for a bite to eat in the comfortable atmosphere of the museum’s own restaurant, the Hao (daily 11 am-6 pm).
Vicente Sánchez Araña had discovered the Fortaleza de Ansite and brought most of the finds made there to his museum. Put on display next to other objects of interest, they take up no less than 20 rooms. Additionally, there are 19th-century Canarian arts and crafts as well as paintings by contemporary local artists. A pleasant change is provided by the garden (and the restaurant), in which native flora as well as fruit trees from all over the world thrive splendidly.more
The magnificent parish church (1796-1940) has Agüimes to thank for its status as bishop’s see, which... it was until the 19th century. The church, meanwhile, is of such splendor that it received the title “historical culture monument of Spain”. The three-aisled basilica’s location itself, within the narrow historical center, is fascinatingly beautiful.
The classicist façade with two flanking towers as well as the tambur of the transept dome were built of a dark stone, which used to be mined in this area. It forms a beautiful contrast to the white dome and the equally whitewashed cubic houses on the slope behind it. For the interior, the most famous sculptor of Gran Canaria, Luján Pérez, created three holy figures: Virgen de la Esperanza, San Vicente and Santo Domingo.more
Founded in 1503 as one of the first churches of Gran Canaria and not completed until the 18th century,... this parish church, dedicated to John the Baptist, is located by the pretty plaza with trimmed Indian laurel trees, surrounded by lovely two-story houses in Canarian style, that is with wooden balconies and courtyards. A delicate arabesque adorns the stone portal, only the massive side towers appear a bit plump and are clearly of more recent date.
The interior choir area, which dates back to the beginnings of the church and therefore features an exquisite Mudéjar-ceiling, is exceptionally beautiful. The main choir chapel, however, contains the showpiece, the magnificent Baroque retable with fine, colored carvings such as the “Wedding with Joseph”. Everything is kept in best Flemish style, donated by the richest man of the Canaries at that time, Cristobal García del Castillo. Notice the fall of the folds and how artfully the rear side of the coats stands out from the carvings. Another significant work of art is the gigantic 16th-century crucifix, 1.85 m high and yet weighing only seven kilograms, because, save for the head, hands and feet of Christ, the entire body is made from a special kind of mâché of corncob flour.more
With a diameter of 25 kilometers, the Caldera de Tejeda is the largest sunken crater on the island, and... the most beautiful at that. The small city of Tejeda affords a wonderful view of the crater without much effort, from the edge of the crater. Especially when looking south, one has the impression that the zagged mauntain ridges continue infinitely, stacked one behind the other.
A visit in January or in the beginning of February certainly shows Caldera from its most beautiful side, when the thousands of almond trees are in full bloom, a pink and white sea of blossoms on wild growing, rarely cultured trees! Not only at this time are almond specialties offered in town, among them a kind of marzipan as well as bienmesabe, a honey-sweet, almond-derived delicacy, which translates as “I like the taste”…more
City: Caldera de Bandama in/near Gran Canaria Category: Sightseeing
On the bottom of the crater, there are the farm and fields of a lonely farmer who lives completely secluded... from the outside world. You can only reach it via a steep path. A tip for hikers and adventurers is the rocky and slippery circular path around the bottom of the crater passing developed terrace fields, caves and sources. Good shoes are essential.
The 240m deep and 1000m wide collapsed crater of Bandama gives a remarkable testimony of the origin of the island which was created from a series of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Enjoy the best view of the Caldera from the adjacent Pico de Bandama. Breathtaking views into the depth open up to the visitor even on the way to the peak. Once you have reached the highest viewing point of the 1,870-ft (570 m) high volcanic cone, you can see the entire east and west coast down to Las Palmas and Telde. On a clear day, you may even make out the neighboring island Fuerteventura.more