Maspalomas Gran Canaria
Maspalomas is part of the Maspalomas – Costa Canaria tourist town, an area sometimes commonly referred as Maspalomas (a concept known by locals as el Sur, which also includes also the nearby town of San Agustín, Playa del Inglés and Meloneras). Located on the southernmost tip of Gran Canaria, it is the largest tourist town in the Canary Islands. Maspalomas is part of the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana.
Its name may derive from that of Rodrigo Mas de Palomar, a settler and soldier from Majorca, or from Francisco Palomar, a Genoese friend of Alonso Fernandez de Lugo who purchased 87 Guanche slaves from Güímar and settled in the area.
The place is the result of an ambitious development project, organized in the form of an International Ideas Contest (opened to any member of theInternational Union of Architects), held in 1961 under the auspice of Alejandro del Castillo, owner and promoter of most of the space under construction. The contest was won by the french office S.E.T.A.P. (incl. the urbanist Langueneau and the economist Michel Meill) and covered the 1.060 Ha and 19Km. of coast that constitute the core area of Maspalomas – Costa Canaria. The contest paved the way for a particular way of understanding touristic urbanism that served as model for later touristics developments in otherCanary Islands.
Unlike the Resort-like development model later extended to other locations in the Canary Islands and the Caribbean, Maspalomas has a personality on its own, as it evolved into a fully equipped touristic town much closer to the touristic concept of destinations like Palm Springs, California or Palm Beach, Florida. It has a variety of infrastructure and public dotations rarely seen in other touristic areas, including hospitals (2) and private clinics, local and foreign schooling institutions (spanish, english and swedish schools), shopping & convenction centres, casinos (2), golf courses, sports centers, thematic parks and a Summer University (in collaboration with the university of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, mainly focused on tourism-related activities). It has a wide range of accommodation on offer (3*, 4*, 5* and Luxury Hotels, Beach Resorts, Boutique and Thematic Hotels, Bungalows and apartments), although the urbanism concept speaks of an horizontal expansion (Bungalows) rather than high rises.
The area includes the Natural Reserve of the Dunes of Maspalomas, which constitutes the main landmark of Gran Canaria. Much appreciated as a winter destination for foreign tourists, mostly from north-european countries (Sweden, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, etc.), it remains as the largest tourist destination in the Canary Islands and a worldwide-known destination for LGTB tourism.
There is a 68 m tall lighthouse, named El Faro de Maspalomas, at the southern point from where the 12 km long beach and dunes, a nature reserve since 1897, lead toPlaya del Inglés.