The capital of Gran Canaria is Las Palmas
and it is the largest city in the Canary Islands with approximately 400,000 plus inhabitants. At the centre of Las Palmas is the old town of La Vegueta that dates back to the 15th century. With its cobbled roads and quaint houses, this historic walled area, which was awarded the prized UNESCO World Heritage status 20 years ago, is a nice area for an evening stroll.
La Vegueta is totally dominated by the towers of the old Santa Ana Cathedral, construction of which was started in about 1500 ad, but due to a lack of resources, it was not actually finished until the early 19th century. As a result of this, the cathedral shows a mix of various architectural styles. Inside there are some fine pieces of religious art, many of them are works by the famous sculptor Jose Lujan Perez. Some of the more valuable artifacts can be viewed in the Sacred Art Museum inside the Cathedral, including early Spanish sculptures and Dutch oils.
Further north of La Vegueta is another of the Las Palmas attractions
, the Triana, with interesting sights that include the Iglesia de San Francisco, a fine colonial type church that was rebuilt during the 17th century after being razed by fire during a Dutch pirate incursion. Running through the heart of Triana is the pedestrianised byway, the calle Mayor, down which there are a variety of different shops, from small clothes boutiques to major chain stores, perfect for a spot of Las Palmas shopping
One of the most finest buildings in Las Palmas is the Casa Museo de Colon, where Christopher Columbus is supposed to have resided in 1492. Since mid 1952 this has housed a museum with a mix of nautical displays related to the famous explorer, including intricate models of ships, navigational aids, old maps and charts. Founded in approximately 1879, the Museo Canario has a mixed collection of interesting objects, including some pottery, jewelry, skeletons and implements, which date from very ancient eras up to the late 15th century. The displays relate to the times of the Gaunche tribes who were indigenous to the Canary Islands. Mock ups of Gaunche cave dwellings are among the highlights of the museum tour. Nearby to the Museo Canario is the pleasant Plaza del Espirito, a square surrounded by old and historic buildings and with an impressive fountain at its heart.
Las Palmas is situated along a headland which sticks out into the warm Atlantic Ocean. The Las Palmas beaches, Playa de las Alcaravaneras and the outstanding Playa de las Canteras, said to be one of the best town beaches in all Spain. Las Canteras is very popular with kite surfers and the windsurfing community. Further south of this "Playa" is the Alfred Kraus Auditorium which often hosts the Canary Islands Classical Music Festival, as well as the the Las Palmas international film festival. In this part of town there is the Las Arenas shopping centre which has a good selection of shops, restaurants, cafes plus a cinema complex.
Gran Canaria Airport
is situated just over 12 miles or 20 kilometres further south of the city. There are twice hourly buses to the airport from the bus terminals at Parque San Telmo and Parque Santa Catalina in Las Palmas. Local taxis from the airport should cost about 25 euros (check before you set off).