Gran Canaria originally meaning ‘Great [Island] of Dogs’) is the second most populous island of the Canary Islands. Gran Canaria was populated by the Canarii (Guanches), who may have arrived as early as 500 BC. The Canarii called the island Tamarán or Land of the Brave. Gran Canaria is located southeast of Tenerife and west of Fuerteventura and is of volcanic origin,This island is called a “Miniature Continent” due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found, with long beaches and dunes of white sand, contrasting with green ravines and picturesque villages. A third of the island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The north tends to be cooler while the south is warmer and sunny. The east coast of the island is flat dotted with beaches while the western coast is rockier and mountainous.
The capital city is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Las Canteras Beach lies in the heart of the city, it is a protected area and diving zone. Las Palmas is also known for its annual Carnaval. It was the first stop of Christopher Columbus’ expedition on his way back from the Americas, a commemoration of which is the Hermitage of San Antonio Abad, where the navigator prayed, and the Casa de Colón. Other attractions in the capital city include the Museo Canario (the most important archaeology museum in the archipelago), the Cathedral and the Plaza del Espíritu Santo. In Teror the shrine of Virgen del Pino, patron saint of Gran Canaria, can be found.
Maspalomas is part of the Maspalomas – Costa Canaria tourist town, an area commonly referred as Maspalomas (a concept known by locals as el Sur, meaning the South) which also includes 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.
Playa del Inglés (“Englishman’s Beach”) is a sea resort in the south coast of the island of Gran Canaria. It is a zone part of Maspalomas, in the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, and is a popular tourist attraction. It has a long beach made of tall sand dunes, and is connected with other beach towns including San Agustín and Maspalomas in the touristic centre of the island.
Palmitos Park is a 20-hectare (49-acre) botanical garden and aviary on the island of Gran Canaria, one of the Canary islands, which are a part of Spain. The subtropical park is situated in the south of the island, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north of the tourist beaches and dunes of Maspalomas, but towards the interior.
Puerto de Mogán is a picturesque resort and fishing village in the municipality of Mogán, set at the mouth of a steep-sided valley on the southwest coast of the island of Gran Canaria and attracts many tourists either to stay or on day-visits. Canals linking the marina to the fishing harbour have led to it being nicknamed “Little Venice” or the “Venice of the Canaries”. Restaurants and bars fringe the marina and the beach front.
Other attractions include Cocodrilos Park, Roque Nublo (an 80 m monolith), Cenobio de Valerón with about 290 caves, Cueva Pintada the most important archaeological park in Canary Islands and the botanical gardens Jardin Canario (in Tafira Alta) and Cactualdea (in La Aldea de San Nicolás). El Dedo de Dios, or “God’s Finger” was a rocky spire jutting from the sea in Puerto de las Nieves, and was previously the signature attraction of the Canary Islands until it was destroyed by Tropical Storm Delta, that crossed the archipelago on November 2005. Other well-known rock formations are El Cura (also known as El Fraile), The Frog (La Rana), Bentayga, the Roque de Gando, and the Peñón Bermejo. The highest peak of the island is the Pico de las Nieves, at 1,950 metres (6,400 ft). Other important towns are Telde very well known due to the sales of Hot dogs on the Salinetas coast, and Vecindario (within the municipality of Santa Lucía de Tirajana) and Gáldarimportant diving zone. In Arucas there is a Neogothic temple, popularly known as “Arucas’ Cathedral”, as well as a large fertile plain where bananas are grown. In Gáldar and its surroundings there is also a banana-growing plain and some remarkable archaeological remains, such as Cueva Pintada or Cenobio de Valerón’s communal silos, ancient tombs, and the port of Sardina del Norte (one of the island’s ports where, as in Las Palmas’, Christopher Columbus used to get supplies for his ships).
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