Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spanish pronunciation: [las ˈpalmaz ðe ɣɾaŋ kaˈnaɾja]), commonly known as Las Palmas (English /ləs ˈpɑːlməs/, Spanish: [las ˈpalmas]) is the co-capital (jointly with Santa Cruz) and the most populous city in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, and the ninth largest city in Spain, with a population of 383,308 in 2010. Nearly half (45.9%) of the people of the island and 18.35% of all inhabitants of the Canary Islands live in this city. It is also the fifth most populous urban area in Spain with a population exceeding 700,000 and (depending on sources) ninth or tenth most populous metropolitan area in Spain with a population of between 625,000 and 750,000. Las Palmas is the largest city of the European Union lying outside the European Continent. It is located in the northeast part of the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, about 150 kilometers (~93 miles) off the northwestern coast of Africa within the Atlantic Ocean.
Las Palmas enjoys a subtropical climate, with mild to warm temperatures throughout the year. According to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore, director of research on climatology at Syracuse University in the United States, Las Palmas enjoys “the best climate in the world”.
It was founded as a city in 1478, considered the de facto only capital of the Canary Islands until the seventeenth century. Today, the city is capital of Canary Islands with Santa Cruz and home to the Canarian Ministry of Presidency (shared in a 4-year term with Santa Cruz de Tenerife), home to half of the Ministries and Boards of the Canarian Government, and home to the High Court of Justice of the Canary Islands. It is the judicial and commercial capital of the Canary Islands, and is also home to a great share of the executive power.
The city was founded by Juan Rejón on 24 June 1478, with the name “Real de Las Palmas”. Rejón was head of the invading Castilian army, before engaging in war with the local Guanches (aboriginal people of the Canary Islands). In 1492, Christopher Columbus (Spanish:Cristóbal Colón) anchored in the Port of Las Palmas, and spent some time on the island on his first trip to the Americas. He also stopped on the way back to Spain. The Casa Colón museum in the Vegueta area of the city is named after him. In 1595 Francis Drake failed to plunder the island. The raid and partial destruction of Las Palmas by the Dutch under Vice Admiral Pieter van der Does in 1599 is considered a major event in the city’s history. In 1927, Las Palmas was designated the premier capital of the Canary Island by decree of 30 November 1833,
In July 1936 General Francisco Franco launched a coup from Las Palmas that eventually turned into the Spanish Civil War.
The Las Palmas seaport, Puerto de la Luz, benefited greatly from the closure of the Suez Canal during the Arab-Israeli conflict. Due to its situation as nexus of two continents and its importance as a tourist destination, many foreign workers have migrated to the city.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a sister city of San Antonio, Texas in the United States, which was founded in 1718 by about 25 Canary Islanders.
Las Palmas has a Subtropical – semi-arid climate with Mediterranean precipitation patterns, with warm dry summers and moderately warm winters. Its average annual temperature is 20 °C (68 °F) – 23 °C (73 °F) during the day and 17 °C (63 °F) at night. In the coldest month – January – the temperature typically ranges from 18 to 23 °C (64 to 73 °F) during the day (and sometimes more), around 15 °C (59 °F) at night, the average sea temperature is 19 °C (66 °F). In the warmest months – August and September – the temperature typically ranges from 25 to 29 °C (77 to 84 °F) during the day, above 20 °C (68 °F) at night, the average sea temperature is 23 °C (73 °F). Large fluctuations in temperature are rare.
On the August 1990 reported record, the average maximum temperature of the month during the day was 30.6 °C (87.1 °F). The coldest temperature ever recorded was 6.5 °C (43.7 °F) at night on 27 March 1954. The highest wind speed ever recorded was on the 28th of November 2005, measuring 113 km/h (70.21 mph). Las Palmas city has never recorded any snow.
Annual average relative humidity is 68%, ranging from 65% in March to 71% in October. Sunshine duration hours is above 2,800 per year, from around 190 in winter (average above 6 hours of sunshine duration at day) to around 300 in summer (average 10 hours of sunshine duration at day). It rains on average only 33 days a year, with total precipitation per year of only 133 mm (5.2 inches). Las Palmas enjoys “the best climate in the world” according to a study carried out by Thomas Whitmore at Syracuse University
Windows of Santa Ana Cathedral, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas offers a variety of theater, cinema, opera, concerts, visual arts and dance performances. The city hosts the Canary Islands Music Festival, the Theatre and Dance and the International Film Festival. The main City Festival, celebrating the foundation of the City (Fiestas de San Juan) is held in June. The Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is known not only in Spain but also worldwide, and is one of the main attractions for tourists. The city center of Las Palmas, specifically the Vegueta and Triana neighbourhoods, are included in the tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Museums, theatres and exhibition halls
- The Museo Canario is located in the historic district of Vegueta. Founded in 1879, it is an international partner of the Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). It has a valuable collection of Canary archaeological objects, which are exhibited in 16 halls. It is also equipped with a library of over 60,000 volumes, many of them dealing with the Canary Islands topics. Its archive covers period from 1785 until today.
Casa de Colón (Columbus House) y Pilar Nuevo
- The Casa Museo de Colón is in the Plaza de San Antonio Abad, behind the cathedral. It focuses on the history of the Canary Islands and its relations with America. It has 13 permanent exhibition halls, a library and dedicated study center, and diverse spaces for temporary activities. The complex consists of several houses, one of which was accessed by Christopher Columbus during his first trip to America in 1492; it was the residence of former Governor (now better known as home of Columbus). It is organized into five subject areas: America before the Discovery, Columbus and his journeys, Canary enclave strategic base for experimenting with the New World, The history and genesis of the city of Palmas, and painting of the 16th century to start of the 20th century.
- The Casa Museo Pérez Galdós is located in the Triana neighborhood of the city. It is the birthplace of Benito Pérez Galdós. It has an extensive collection of documents, books, furniture and personal belongings of the writer.
Plaza del Pueblo Canario, Nestor Museum
- The Museo Néstor is in the neighborhood of Garden City. Dedicated to the modernist painter Néstor Martín Fernández de la Torre, the museum was opened in 1956 in the architectural ensemble of the Pueblo Canario, which was conceived and built by his brother Miguel. It has 10 exhibition halls, as well as a documentation center and pedagogy.
- The Elder Museum of Science and Technology is an innovative, interactive, engaged in scientific and technological culture. Elder located in the building, which dates from the end of 19th century has 4,500 m2 (48,438 sq ft) of exhibition halls, workshops, interactive modules, large-format film and greenhouse ecosystem.
- The Maritime Museum, located in the former Jet Foil station has around 1,000 m2 (10,764 sq ft) of floor space. When the expansion is finished, will have a giant pool to simulate interactive bay, where a large ship can be handled by visitors.
Lady Harimaguada, Martín Chirino.
- The Atlantic Center of Modern Art (CAAM), opened in 1989, is one of the most important references for the cultural and artistic life of the Canary Islands, and is responsible for disseminating the art made in the islands to the rest of the world, especially Africa, America and Europe. It has permanent and temporary exhibitions that range from the historical avant-garde to the latest trends. It is located on Calle Los Balcones de Vegueta, and preserves the original façade of the 18th century.
- The Teatro Pérez Galdós was designed by the architect Francisco Jareño y Alarcón in 1867. Its current appearance, with some modifications, is due to the intervention of Fernando Navarro and Miguel Martín Fernández de la Torre after the fire that destroyed it almost entirely in 1928. Miguel Martín’s brother, the painter Néstor de la Torre, was commissioned to decorate the stalls, lounges and the stage. It was originally called Teatro Tirso de Molina until 1901, when, with occasion of the premiere of Electra, the theatre was renamed after the canarian writer Benito Pérez Galdós. Following works of renovation, the theatre reopened in April 2007.
- The Cuyás Theater, on the stage of the former Cine Cuyás is a work of rationalist Canarian architect Miguel Martín Fernández de la Torre. Its main hall has a capacity for 940 people, divided between the stalls and two amphitheatres. It also has a large patio that allows the organization of outdoor events. It is currently constructing an alternative test room with capacity for one hundred seats.
- The Sala Insular de Teatro is a scenic area which lies in the main hall of an old church. In 2007, after some refurbishment, the Board reopened its doors to the public, welcoming small local assemblies.
- The Guiniguada Theater after a decade long refurbishment, will reopen in 2011.
Auditorium and Convention Center
- The Auditorio Alfredo Kraus is located on the Atlantic, near the Playa de Las Canteras, one of the most privileged areas of the city. Its 13,200 m2 (142,084 sq ft) floor area has 11 rooms which accommodate from large conventions and concerts to conferences.
- The Palais des congrès de Gran Canaria is in the premises of the Institución Ferial de Canarias with a capacity for 800 people on 16,000 m2 (172,223 sq ft).
- The Center for Initiatives of the Caja de Ahorros de Canarias (CICC) is housed in a mid-19th century building by the architect Manuel Ponce de Leon in the neighborhood of Triana. It is a small conference center with the latest technology and up to 500 guests.
The city has a wide network of libraries. Along with the 11 municipal libraries, there are three specialized centres:
- The Library Island, which has the capacity for 500 users in its three floors, besides a hall and more than 100 computer connections with 20 Internet access points.
- La Biblioteca Simón Benitez Padilla, center specializing in geology, biology and ecology that contains valuable bibliographical former president of the Museum Canario Simón Benitez Padilla, notable advocate of the study of the Canarian culture.
- The Archives Joaquín Blanco, which contains 160 years of history of the city, as the burning of the Houses Consistoriales in 1845 destroyed the previous document repository.
A library is situated in the first floor of Woermann Tower.
Other cultural events
- Dance Center
- Festival of Theater and Dance
- Festival Internacional de Cine de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Canary Islands Music Festival
- Jazz Festival
- Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Founding Celebrations
- WOMAD Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (World of Music Arts and Dance)
- Opera Festival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- Fantastic and Terror Film Festival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
- La Isleta
One of the themed nights of the Carnival of Las Palmas 2008
The historic district of Vegueta has regained great popularity in recent years, the meeting place of choice at weekends for many young people, who fill its bars and discos. In the port area are also numerous bars and nightclubs, particularly in the vicinity of Santa Catalina.
The Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria usually takes place between January and February each year; popular activities include Mogollon dances and queen and the drag queen galas. The WOMAD (World Of Music, Art & Dance) Festival usually occurs in November each year in the capital of Gran Canaria – 2010 marks the sixteenth edition.
View of Las Canteras Beach
Las Canteras Beach Avenue
The city has four main beaches: Las Canteras, Las Alcaravaneras, la Laja, and Confital.
- Playa de Las Canteras (Las Canteras Beach) is the largest of the existing city, and is frequented throughout the year by most city dwellers and foreign visitors. It lies on the west side of the isthmus of Guanarteme, which links the peninsula of La Isleta, located to the northeast, with the rest of the island of Gran Canaria. The 3,100 m beach is oriented to the northwest in what is known as Confital bow or bay, and stretches from the foothills of La Isleta until shortly before the mouth of the ravine Tamaraceite. Along much of this length, the beach is sheltered from the currents of the Atlantic by a natural barrier of coral sandstone popularly known as “the bar”, which is in easy swimming distance from shore. A system for environmental management has been introduced, and the beach has received ISO 14001 certification – one of only three beaches in Spain to do so, namely La Concha in San Sebastián and La Victoria in Cádiz. On the inner side of the coast, runs the Paseo de Las Canteras, pedestrian street that runs parallel along the beach from near the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus to the area known as “Puntilla” and hence, in line, until reaching near the beach Confital, place some years ago was only frequented by surfers, which creates what many consider as the best wave right in Europe. La Playa de Las Canteras covers three areas that correspond to the arches and inflections that it conducts on the coast. Each presents certain morphological characteristics.
- Playa de Las Alcaravaneras (Las Alcaravaneras beach) stretches rising side of the Isthmus of Guanarteme, old language of sand dunes and mountains linking the peninsula of La Isleta, located to the northeast, with the rest of the island of Gran Canaria. It extends from the Real Club Náutico de Gran Canaria until his meeting with the new marina breakwater of the city for just over half a mile of fine golden sand. The whole beach is covered by the promenade, which starts in Las Alcaravaneras, communicates with the Playa de San Cristobal and ending in Playa de La Laja, ten miles south. This ride is one of the recreational areas of the city and is popular with people who take the opportunity to walk, run, play sports or cycling. The tranquility of the bay, and yacht clubs close to the existing beach make Playa de Las Alcaravaneras a great place to practice sports such as sailing and canoeing. Furthermore, on the beach there are facilities for the practice of other sports like beach volleyball, beach soccer or futvóley (organized tournaments in the summer) and court sports such as basketball, indoor soccer and volleyball.
- Playa de la Laja (La Laja Beach) with fine gray sand, is approximately 1200 m long and 40 m average width. Its moderate waves and currents are no longer dangerous, following the construction of a dam in the south in the 1990s. At the time, the Ministry of Environment also trawled the seabed to bring sand onto the beach, and the construction of a boardwalk has significantly improved pedestrian access. Due to the intensity of its streams and incoming waves, La Laja has been hailed as a favorite surfers’ beach. It is the starting point for boat races that occur every weekend between April and October.
- Playa del Confital (Confital Beach), southwest of the peninsula of La Isleta, is a natural extension of Las Canteras Beach. The area normally suitable for swimming covers about two kilometers, but the coastal strip is much greater. It consists of panels of rock with a layer of gravel at the end of them. Until some years ago, the beach was home to a small shanty town, which was eradicated; the land of the Confital went back to being public. Ensuing works proved controversial, as some environmental organizations and the residents of the city questioned the legality of the proceedings. The waves arriving at the beach are highly thought of by amateur and professional surfers, some of whom consider the Confital as having the best waves in Europe. Here, the ocean currents form a tube that is used by more experienced surfers for its speed and strong contrasts. Each year, qualifying events for the professional world surfing championship take place on this beach.
Parks and squares
- Avenida Marítima
- Avenida Mésa y López
- El Confital
- Fuente Luminosa
- Parque de la Mayordomía
- Parque de Santa Catalina
- Parque Doramas
- Parque Juan Pablo II
- Parque San Telmo
- Plaza de Canarias
- Plaza de España
- Plaza de La Feria
- Plaza de Las Ranas
- Plaza Santa Ana
The Cathedral of Santa Ana, in the capital city, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Church of San Juan Bautista
Other sights on the suburbs
- Bandama Caldera (Bandama Natural Monument) in Santa Brígida, Las Palmas is part of the Tafira Protected Landscape. It’s considered a point of geological interest, because of the Caldera de Bandama. This volcanic caldera reaches 569 m (1,867 ft) above sea level at the highest point on its rim, Pico de Bandama, and is about 1,000 m (3,300 ft) wide and 200 m (660 ft) deep. The steep walk to the bottom of the caldera takes about half an hour. Volcanic ash of different hues is in great abundance, and there are some interesting botanic species of Canary Islands origin. There are facilities for food and refreshments as well.
- Archaeological sites in Santa Brígida. In the valley of La Angostura and Las Meleguinas can find numerous traces of Aboriginal canaries that have prompted the declaration of the area as a Cultural, as groups of caves carved into rock, silos or sidewalks. In the archaeological site of El Tope, discovered on 16 July 1988, where you can see remnants that suggest the existence of an aboriginal burial mound, as well as ceramics, pottery and curious pintaderas. En la pared norte de la Caldera de Bandama se encuentra la Cueva de los Canarios, utilizada por los aborígenes como granero. It has been discovered Libyan-Berber inscriptions and some vessels (which are now in the Museo Canario). Also in the same area in the wall of the volcano in the stew is the Cueva de Los Frailes was discovered in 1933 a set of 37 caves.
- Church of San Juan Bautista (also vulgarly known as Catedral de Arucas due to its big size) built entirely in Arucas stone by local master masons, and it dates from 1909 (Initial Configuration from the 17th century). Apart from the wealth of the carved stone columns and column heads, there are also some beautiful stained glass windows, the works of Canary Island painter Cristobal Hernandez de Quintana, and an extraordinary carving of the Reclining Christ, by Manuel Ramos.
- Jardín de la Marquesa de Arucas – Botanical Garden in Arucas.
- Iglesia de San Juan Bautista de Telde is the true spiritual centre of Telde. Located in the square of the same name and founded in 1483, the old church was erected by the Garcia del Castillo family at the time of the town’s foundation. It still has the original gateway, an example of Sevillian–Portuguese Gothic architecture. The towers, however, are an example of early 20th neo-Gothic construction. The real marvels are inside the building: the statue of Christ on the main altar, made from corn dough by the Tarasco Mexican Indians, brought here before 1550, the Flemish Gothic main altar, which dates back to before 1516, and the triptych of the Virgin Mary, brought from Flanders, also in the 16th century, depicting five religious scenes.
- Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pino in Teror from 1760.
- Archaeological sites in Telde. Telde has 101 archaeological sites and 709 listed assets of ethnographic interest. In regard to the aboriginal time deposits, each year it expands its number or discover new aspects of old fields, but most are in disrepair and many are disappearing. Some of the most prominent are the coastal town of Tufia in good condition and extensively excavated by archaeologists, four doors located on top of a mountain overlooking the plain teldense and consists of a large cave with four doors and its name suggests, plus an ALMOGAREN (religious vessel) at the top and a village of caves with collective barn in the back, the caves of Tara and Cendro remains of the ancient center of population, the town of Draguillo on the border with Ingenio, Las Cuevas Chalasia which consist of a labyrinthine series of artificial caves linked by tunnels and the impressive Necropolis of Jinámar which includes more than 500 tombs of various types belonging to the old canary.
- Basílica de San Juan Bautista in Telde
- Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pino in Teror from 1760.