Spain Guide Gran Canaria
The third largest island in the archipelago, Gran Canaria is located some 211 kilometres from the North African coast. It is also well known for it’s resorts and has been a popular holiday destination for many years. Gran Canaria is often referred to as a continent in miniature, an island where you can experience both extremes of landscape and temperature. The land ranges from lush valleys, through dark pine forests to Sahara like sand dunes, and the temperature ranges from hot and arid through to cool and snowy on the mountain slopes. As with Tenerife, the northern part of the island is cooler than the south and the bulk of the resorts tend to be located toward to the south and east of the island.
Although it is smaller than both Fuerteventura and Tenerife, it shares their volcanic history. Circular in shape, the island has a maximum altitude of 1950 meters and has much fine golden sand that is blown over from the Sahara Desert, the dunes at Maspolonas are world famous and this area is renowned as one of the top European holiday destinations. This is a compact island and no where is more than an hours driver from the airport, In theory you can drive around all of it in a single day, however due the complexities of the road layouts, this is probably not such a good idea.
This island is the most densely populated of all the Canary Islands and almost half of the population are located within the capital city Las Palmas. The capital city is very cosmopolitan and it has a large number of sophisticated shops, restaurants and bars. This city is certainly a rival to anything Tenerife has to offer. It has a population of some 360,000 and is a major port of historic significance. There is evidence that Christopher Columbus stopped in Las Palmas in 1492 on his way to the new territories. Las Palmas over the years has played host to the arrival of many luxury liners and although not so fashionable now as a holiday destination in it’s own right, it still has a lot to offer to both the holiday maker and the holiday home owner.
This island has everything the holiday maker or the person seeking to buy a holiday home could want. There is much to do and Gran Canaria boasts no less than 32 natural protected areas, in fact the whole island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. It is very easy to escape form the holiday resorts and a trip to experience the rest of it’s features is well worth the effort, the bird park “ Palmitos” which is located towards the south of the island is definitely worth a visit
As well as the fine scenery and beaches, culturally there is also a lot to offer. Gran Canaria does place an an emphasise on history and the arts and these are very much in evidence especially in the capital city. Perhaps a direct rival to Tenerife, Gran Canaria does have the better beaches, it even has a mountain that gets the odd sprinkling of snow (although it must be said, Mount Pico de las Nieves is nowhere near as impressive as Mount Teide. Unlike most of it’s near neighbours, this island does have something to offer in terms of heritage, there are many Guanche sites littered around the island.
The Guanches, (originally meaning a native of Tenerife) but then used to describe the indigenousness population of all the Canaries occupied the islands prior to the 15th century. Originally they came form North Africa and started the earliest civilisation on the Islands, today, there are a but a few remains of them. What can still be seen is mainly in the shape of tombs, like the ancient Egyptians, they had a habit of mummifying the dead and some of these are on display in the museums in Santa Cruz. Alas much evidence of occupation by the Guanches has been lost, often to the encroaching tourist industry, however the authorities are now acting to preserve what remains for antiquity.
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