Things to Do in Gran Canaria
A staple of Gran Canarian and Spanish culture, the botanical garden was named after pioneering Spanish cleric and scholar José Viera y Clavijo. It opened in 1959 after seven years of landscaping. And although it is intrinsically linked to the island’s history, the garden was technically the life work of Swedish-Spanish botanist Eric Ragnor Sventenius, who devoted a number of years of his life to optimizing and expanding the site. The garden, which spreads over 27 hectares and is officially Spain’s largest, comprises of 500 plant species endemic to the Canary Islands scattered in several divisions, like the "Garden of the Islands", the "Garden of Cacti and Succulents" and its 10,000 succulents, the "Laurel-leaved Forests", the "Fountain of the Wisemen," the "Macaronesian Ornamental Garden” as well as the “Hidden Garden” and its sublime greenhouse. It now houses plants from all over the world and a research laboratory.
As the seat of the Diocese of the Canaries in the Roman Catholic Church, the Catedral de Santa Ana is one of the most prominent monuments of Canarian architecture. Construction was initiated in 1500 on orders of the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, after Gran Canaria was conquered in 1478. It was completed on the eve of Corpus Christi in 1570, although substantial renovations were made over the following centuries—which explains the disparity in some of the architectural details. Designed in the purest Gothic tradition with touches of Neoclassical and even Baroque, the structure consists of two campaniles, an ornate nave with double aisles as well as a sanctuary. The cathedral’s interior is famous for its palm tree-like piers and for its twin towers, one of which is accessible to tourists on a quest for unobstructed views of Gran Canaria.
More Things to Do in Gran Canaria
Charming Casa de Colon was reportedly a rest and repair stop for Columbus and his ship, La Pinta, en route to the New World in 1492.
Originally belonging to the Governor of the Canaries, Casa de Colon was one of a small number of houses that became Las Palmas's first settlement marking the beginning of the city in 1478.
Casa de Colon's ornate doorways, latticed balconies and chocolate-box-like exterior make it one of Las Palmas’ most eye-catching buildings. If its pretty facade doesn't excite you to discover more about the building's history and Columbus's visit here, the interesting and well-run museum inside will.
Here you’ll find multi-lingual exhibits that explain the connection between the Canary Islands, Columbus and his great voyages that led him to discover and establish trading links with the new world.
Satisfy your scientific curiosities with a visit to Gran Canaria’s Elder Museum of Science and Technology. Located in a 19th-century shipping warehouse in harbor-side Parque Santa Catalina, the museum and its four levels are now packed with modern-day interactive and didactic marvels that bridge the gap between science and people.
The museum features a variety of themed areas ranging from math to physics, art, biology and engineering. In doing so, it allows visitors multi-sensory experiences via highlights such as a flight simulator, planetarium, 3D movie theater, and robotic-arm-driven Robocoaster ride, among many other engaging activities. From the replica of a space station to the thermal imaging exhibit, there’s discovery to be had around every corner here.
Visiting the house where famed author Benito Pérez Galdós was born and lived until 1862 is like taking a journey into his work and times; the Casa-Museo Perez Galdos holds valuable pieces of furniture and various personal belongings—including a private library and never-published drawing and manuscripts—that once belonged to the writer, all of which is cleverly set in the context of Galdós’ 19th-century Spain. The house showcases a few of Galdós’ lesser-known sides, like his political allegiances and artistic affinities for drawing, playing the piano, painting and furniture designing. In addition to being highly significant as far as Galdós’ is concerned, the house is also an extremely well preserved example of 18th-century Canary architecture. And although Benito Pérez Galdós is not by any means a famous author in the English literary world, he played a major role in Canarian and Spanish cultures and his novels are often described as remarkable and influential.
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