The sights of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain

Las Palmas

Las Palmas is the largest city in the Canary Islands, a major commercial and historical center, a cosmopolitan resort and an important port. Las Palmas remains one of the most important ports in the world today.

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What to see

The northern part of the city is Santa Catalina Park. The many cafes under the lush palm trees are crowded day and night. In the harbor part of the park is the very interesting Elder Museum (open: Tues-Whs 10:00-20:00, admission paid), a beautifully organized museum of science and technology. From the museum, a landscaped pedestrian walkway stretches past a futuristic sail, under which the bus terminal hides, to the Muelle Santa Catalina. Glistening in yellow and blue, the El Muelle shopping center is home to stores, cinemas, discotheques, restaurants, and cafes. On the other side of the plaza, the 3 km-long Playa de las Canteras beach is a short walk away. This beach made Las Palmas the first tourist resort in Gran Canaria. Today, however, the golden days of the resort are a thing of the past, and young people have moved south. A wide, palm-fringed promenade stretches along the beach. Lined up here are hotels and restaurants, some of which have been in operation since the 1960s. A few hundred meters from the shore is the natural reef of La Barra, which turns the beach into a calm lagoon, where children and all those who do not know how to swim feel absolutely comfortable.

Take the bus back from Santa Catalina to the picturesque Doramas Landscape Park, named after a Guanche chief. The park is surrounded by the Hotel Catalina. Adjacent to it is the “Canarian Village” – Pueblo Canario. Here you can buy handicrafts and see performances of folklore groups (al 11.30, admission free). The village was built by the local modernist painter Nestor Fernández de la Torre (1887-1938) and his brother Miguel, a famous architect. The Nestor Museum displays the artist’s works, but the museum is currently under restoration and is closed to the public.

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To the south stretches San Telmo Park, home to Las Palmas’ main bus terminal (underground) and the beautiful little chapel Hermita de San Telmo. An elegant Art Nouveau kiosk, finished with gleaming tiles, marks the beginning of one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Triana. On the long pedestrian street Mallor de Triana you’ll find many magnificent Art Nouveau houses. You’ll find a variety of stores and shops here. The Pérez Galdós House Museum is located here (open: Tuesday to Friday 10.00-16.00, Saturday and Sunday 10.00-14.00, free admission). The writer was born in Gran Canaria in 1843. The house itself is a fine example of Canarian architecture.

Near the museum you can see two beautiful squares – Plasoleta de Cayrasco and Hurtado de Mendoza, more commonly called Las Ranas (The Frogs) because in the center of it there is a fountain with two frogs. On the Plazoleta de Cayrasco there is a real masterpiece of Art Nouveau, the Gabinete Literario, which is considered an artistic and historical monument.

Cross the lively Juan de Quesada and you’ll find yourself in the oldest part of Las Palmas, Vegueta. The Spanish camped here as early as 1478. It is said that Christopher Columbus prayed in the chapel of Hermita de San Antonio Abad before sailing to the New World. There are many monuments of colonial architecture preserved in this area. You’ll enjoy strolling through the cobblestone streets and admiring the white houses covered in bright bougainvillea. The neighborhood comes alive in the evenings with bars and restaurants that stay open well into the night.

A beautiful 15th-century mansion, the Columbus House, is on Colón Street (open: Mon-Fri 9:00-19:00, Sat Sat 9:00-15:00, admission is charged). The house is the residence of the first governor of the island. It is believed that Columbus stayed here, although there is no proof of that. Today it is a curious museum with a beautiful courtyard. The exhibition tells about the era of great geographical discoveries. Nautical instruments, maps and weapons, a replica of a cabin on Columbus’ caravel Ninja, and pre-Columbian objects from Mexico and from the Ecuadorian island of La Tolita are on display here.

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Around the corner stands the massive Santa Ana Cathedral (open: Mon-Fri 10:00-16:30, Sat 10:00-13:30, admission paid, only through the church museum). The cathedral combines elements of Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassical styles. Nearby is the Diocesan Museum of Religious Art (open like the cathedral; entrance from Via Espirito Santo). Explore the beautiful cloister and orange courtyard, the silence of which is broken only by the singing of the birds. A modern elevator takes you up to one of the two towers of the cathedral, where you have a beautiful view of Las Palmas. On Plaza Santa Ana, across from the cathedral, is the magnificent administrative building, Casas Consistoriales.

Not far from the square you can see the Atlantic Center of Contemporary Art (CAAM) (open: Tues-Sat 10.00-21.00, Sun 10.00-14.00, admission free), which displays the work of young Canarian artists. The neighbouring Canarian Museum (open: Mon-Fri 10.00-20.00, Sat-Sat 10.00-14.00, admission free) displays a collection of objects from the period before the Spanish Conquest. In one of the halls you can see the skulls and mummies of Cro-Magnon men.

Market

Especially popular in Las Palmas is the Begueta Market, located on Medisabel Street (open: daily 6.30-14.00). It sells fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, smoked meats, and cheeses. In the market and neighboring streets there are many good eateries and bars.

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