About 90 miles off the coast of Africa, the island of Gran Canaria is a place of stunning natural scenery, and nearly half of the island is protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The north of the island is a landscape of dramatic cliffs, and the south is lined with beautiful beaches.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a sun-drenched seaside town with an interesting historic legacy. The city was influenced by its Spanish colonial past from the 15th century as well as the culture of the aboriginal Guanche people. An architectural highlight of the town is the cathedral. This impressive 16th-century house of worship displays Neoclassical features and a Gothic interior with unusual palm-shaped columns. Within the south wing of the cathedral is the Diocesan Museum that displays a collection of religious art and ceremonial objects.
Another great museum is the Museum of the Canary Islands with an interesting archaeological and ethnographic collection. This museum reveals the pre-hispanic culture of the island. Art lovers should also visit the Néstor Museum, which exhibits the art work of Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre, one of the most renowned Spanish Symbolist painters. The museum displays his paintings including portraits and landscapes as well as his drawings, sketches, and craftwork. The Néstor Museum belongs to the “Pueblo Canario” (Canaries Village) built by the artist’s brother following in the “neo-Canarian” style.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has several excellent beaches and a superb natural environment. Las Canteras Beach has a wide sandy shore and gentle waters thanks to a natural breakwater formed by volcanic rock. This beach offers everything tourists need: public toilets, umbrella and lounge chair rentals, water sports rentals, and a children’s play area. Part of the beach is a scuba diving area. La Playa Jinámar is a small beach with a dark sand shoreline and moderate waves. Another must-see nature site on Gran Canaria island is the Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo (Canary Gardens), seven kilometers from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This spectacular botanical garden is in a beautiful valley. Walk down the stone path through the valley’s slopes to discover a landscape filled with native Canarian plant species.