Gran Canaria is the third largest island in the Canary archipelago and one of the most interesting and rich in attractions. The Guancho Indians painted their caves here with mysterious drawings, Christopher Columbus stayed here, virgin forests grow on the slopes of the volcano, and the inhabitants make the best rum in the Canary Islands - in a word, there is something to see.
Top 10 attractions in Gran Canaria
House of Columbus
Perhaps Christopher Columbus lived in this house in August 1492 - the governor's residence was here. The great traveler stayed here twice more - in 1493 and 1502 the Canary Islands became the last civilized and "European" place where his squadron stopped to replenish its food supply, completely unexplored lands lay to the west.
The house itself was rebuilt in 1777, but its walls keep the memory of Columbus. This is a typical Canarian house: several rooms connected by a courtyard with a fountain. Many interesting architectural details, carvings and decorations have been preserved here. Now there is a museum dedicated to Columbus and the history of the discovery of America: for example, there is a fully reconstructed cabin of one of his ships. A separate exposition is devoted to the history of the city of Las Palma itself, which became the "gateway" to the New World for all the following travelers. And, besides this, a large collection of European paintings from the Prado Museum in Madrid has been transferred to this museum.
Archaeological site of Cueva Pintada
This archaeological site is located near the city of Galdar, the former capital of the Guanche Indians, the indigenous population of the Canary Islands. Cueva Pintada - "painted cave": a cave, or rather a whole system of six caves of volcanic origin, in which bright ornamental paintings and items of the Guanches were found. We do not know how and why it was used - as a palace or as a necropolis. Most scientists assume that there were burials here, and abstract drawings on the walls are something like a calendar.
Some of the caves have been left in their original form, and three have been converted into reconstruction of Guanche dwellings. Here are collected household items, and in one more room they show a film dedicated to this place. In addition, next to the cave there is an open excavation area of the Guanche settlement - they used caves and natural holes for housing, but supplemented them with walls and roofs.
An example of an already modern settlement, in which natural caves are still used for housing, as in ancient times. Now these houses inside are completely modern housing, equipped with plumbing fixtures and electricity, but in fact these houses are carved into the rock and are caves.
This is the highest village on the island, located at an altitude of 1300 m, offering beautiful views of the entire island. In one of the rocks there is a cave view restaurant with its own observation deck. There are two churches here - one of St. Matthew, the patron saint of the island, and the second is also the cave La Hermita de la Cuevita. It is located in a rock and contains a statue of the Virgin, which is highly revered in Gran Canaria. From this village, they usually start the path to the mountains - to the top of Pinar de Tamadaba.
Pinar de Tamadaba Natural Park
Pinar de Tamadaba is a huge national park that preserves relict subtropical forests. It is now recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Most of all here is Canarian pine - this is an endemic tree that grows only in the Canary Islands and reaches 60 meters in height. In total, 33 endemic species of Gran Canaria and 64 endemic species of the Canary archipelago grow here. Here, as elsewhere in the Canary Islands, there are no large animals, but there are many birds and lizards, many of which are also endemic to the Canary Islands.
The park has ecological routes, including multi-day ones, there are equipped campgrounds for overnight stays with tents. You can climb to the top of Mount Pinar de Tamadaba and go down through the national park to the very sea coast.
Caldera de Bandama
Like almost all other Canary Islands, Gran Canaria is of volcanic origin. And here there is a giant volcano, the caldera of which reaches almost a kilometer in diameter. It erupted for the last time several thousand years ago, and now it is almost completely covered with vineyards - the vine grows even in the crater itself. In the Canaries, it is believed that the best Malvasia grows precisely on volcanic soil.
At one of the edges of the caldera, there is an observation deck Pico de Bandama at an altitude of 569 meters, from where you can see the entire volcano. Two eco-trails lead from the observation deck - one down to the crater itself, and one along the edge of the caldera. Be careful, this road is not fenced, requires good shoes and some athletic training. And if you go down, you will admire a real garden: besides grapes, oranges, date palms, dracaena, olives grow here - the soil here is extremely fertile.
Dunes of Maspalomas
An amazing reserve - sand dunes, a corner of a real desert among lush tropical vegetation. These are sand dunes that are in constant motion, and not just a loose beach. But this desert is ideal: it is not as hot here as in the real one, because the ocean is nearby, and the breeze always blows from it, and you cannot get lost here, because the area of dunes is not that great. But it is quite possible to enjoy the view of the sand dunes and make unique shots here.
The national park also includes the La Charca lagoon, separated from the sea by a narrow sand bar. On its shores, its own unique ecosystem has developed, where a wide variety of birds live and giant Canary lizards roam.
On the promontory is the Faro de Maspalomas - the oldest lighthouse on the island. It was built in 1890. The height of this lighthouse is 60 meters, it continues to operate and is one of the generally accepted symbols of the island, in any case, its images on souvenir products are constantly encountered.
Atlantic Museum of Modern Art (CAAM)
It is the largest contemporary art museum in the Canary Islands. He aims to show the art of three continents that have actively influenced the culture of the Canary Islands: Europe, South America and Africa. The basis of the collection is the works of the school of art named after V. I. Jose Perez, who worked in the first half of the 20th century.
The museum is located in an old building of the 18th century, and outwardly it remained unchanged, but inside it is now completely rebuilt according to the project of the architect Francisco de Hois. The museum was founded in 1989, and since then its collection has continued to grow. This is not just a museum - it is a huge creative platform: exhibitions, conferences and performances are held here. There are exhibition halls designed specifically for photographs, and there is a large annex that houses large-scale works of contemporary artists.
Cathedral of St. Anna
Catholic Cathedral of St. Anne began to build in 1497 and construction continues to this day. More precisely, at the moment it is already restoration and modernization, but the history of this building is precisely the history of numerous updates and alterations. However, this does not mean that the cathedral is ugly. It simply combines neo-Gothic, classicism, and baroque, and its overall appearance is quite quaint.
The façade of the cathedral is built of local dark volcanic rock and blends beautifully with the plastered wall fragments. The interior is also eclectic - there are decor elements left over from the 18th century, and there are modern ones. The main altar was remodeled in 1944, and its central sculpture is St. Anna was created at the same time by the sculptor Jose de Armas Medina. The cathedral has two observation platforms: on the roof and on one of the side bell towers. There is a Diocesan Museum at the temple.
Canary Islands Museum
The largest and oldest museum in the entire archipelago - it was founded back in 1879. Now there is a huge collection of objects that tell about the history of the Canary Islands. Of course, the main theme is the past of the island before its conquest by the Spaniards.
The first people appeared in Gran Canaria relatively late - about I thousand. BC e., it was to this time that the first finds belong. Perhaps someone lived here before, but the eruption of the volcano left nothing from those cultures. The museum contains copies of murals from the Cueva Pintada cave, reconstructions of Guanche dwellings, and other artifacts from this period.
A separate exhibition is dedicated to the conquest of the island in the 15th century by the Spaniards and the extermination of the Indian population in the 16th century. The whole hall of skulls found here during excavations of ancient burials, and a collection of Indian mummies are especially striking for the imagination of tourists: the Guanches, like the Egyptians, embalmed their dead. The bookstore of the museum is combined with the old library, so it is itself a part of the exposition.
City of Arucas
Arucas is a city in the north of the island, once one of the main settlements of the Guanches, and now one of the main attractions of the island. Its main building is the huge neo-Gothic cathedral of San Juan Batista, the temple of John the Baptist. It was built at the end of the 20th century, but diligently copies the forms of flaming Gothic, it is very beautiful both outside and inside. In addition, the city has preserved several public buildings of the early 20th century, which are also very stylish.
The main reason why people come here is the local center of rum production. There are guided tours combined with tasting this drink, you can see huge 250-liter oak barrels in which rum is stored, and try its different types and sugarcane liqueurs.