Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is an ideal starting or stopping point for many cruises leading through the Canary Islands. In Gran Canaria's island capital, the historically and touristically interesting districts of Triana and Vegueta are particularly worth seeing. We only use public transport for our excursion.
Our first destination: the Parque San Telmo
From the cruise terminal we walk over to Parque de Santa Catalina. Buses run regularly from there to Triana. The journey only takes a few minutes.
We leave the bus at Parque San Telmo. The extensive area, protected by palm trees and huge rubber trees, is a quiet place in the hustle and bustle of the big city. Old-fashioned pavilions and a café invite you to relax. Also noteworthy are the seafarers' chapel Ermita de San Telmo, which dates back to the 16th century, and the seat of the governor general.
Las Palmas Pavilion in Parque San Telmo
Before we reach the old town, our way leads through the pedestrian street Calle Triana. The mix of owner-managed shops and international brands is remarkable. Many of the listed buildings have representative facades and gables. Alleys with small shops, cafés and restaurants branch off to the slope side.
After a few hundred meters the road forks. There is a small, triangular square at the fork. Three bronze figures adorn the square. In the foreground is a gentleman in elegant clothes, Dr. Juan Negrín López. Between 1937 and 1939 he was Prime Minister of Spain. Two more revealingly dressed women stand at a proper distance. The women hold large palm leaves. The meaning of the composition does not reveal itself to us. However, it is nice to look at.
Statue of Dr. Juan Negrín López
Art in public space
We keep to the left at the square. Shortly afterwards we are in front of the four-lane Carretera del Centro road. Before 1972 the river valley of the Barranco de Guiniguada ran at the point of the road. The street separates the districts of Triana and Vegueta. One of the main attractions of the street is the Teatro Peréz Galdós. It is the most important theater in the city. Seen from the front, it looks old-fashioned. The rear, on the other hand, has a modern extension with a stage tower and studios.
Las Palmas - Carretera del Centro relief street
Peréz Galdós Theater
Opposite the theater is the Mercado de Vegueta market hall. Spanish market halls are always worth a visit. Unfortunately we are denied access. It's Saturday afternoon and the hall is closed.
Las Palmas old town Vegueta
At the front of the market hall, Calle Mendizábal leads into the old town. We follow the street until we turn into Calle Los Balcónes. From a distance we catch a first glimpse of the facade of the Santa Ana Cathedral. The Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno is on the way to the cathedral. Opened in 1989 in a former aristocratic palace, the museum presents modern Canarian art. The reciprocal relationships to African, American and European art are shown.
Atlantic Center of Modern Art
Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno - inner courtyard
The Calle Los Balcones flows into the Plaza del Pilar Nuevo at the rear of the cathedral. Before the houses in the city were connected to the water supply, the women stood in line to fetch water. Buildings of different styles and centuries surround the square. The back of the cathedral and part of the Columbus Museum also border the Plaza del Pilar.
The Casa Colón, the Columbus House, impresses the viewer with its sheer size. About 50 years ago, several houses, including the Palace of the Island Governors, were combined to form the Columbus House complex. Legend has it that Columbus visited the home of the island governors before continuing on his way west.
The museum's diverse collections are mainly dedicated to Spain's relationship with the New World at the time. Important exhibits are a map of the world from the 14th century and a replica of Columbus's captain's cabin. The house is famous for its ornate ceiling panels. The exhibits include loans from the Prado. A library is devoted to American history and Spanish-American relations.
The building complex is entered at Calle Colón 1.
Next we go around the cathedral. Its front faces the Plaza Santa Ana. The square was laid out in the 16th century. Travel guides report that the plaza was the first planned urban space in Spain.
The five-aisled Episcopal Church is the largest and oldest church on the island. Work on the church began in 1497. After completion of the first phase of construction, the money ran out in 1570. The work rested for over 200 years before resuming. In total, the construction of the cathedral took more than 500 years. The long construction period due to the interruption explains that different architectural styles are used in the church.
Santa Ana Cathedral
Santa Ana Cathedral - detail front
The cathedral is entered outside of the service times via the Patio de los Naranjos, which is around the corner. A monastery and the diocesan museum are located at the “courtyard of the orange trees”. One of the two towers can be climbed for a fee. An elevator takes visitors up to a viewing platform. If you like, you can climb further up to the top of the tower.
Opposite the cathedral is the town hall from 1853 on Plaza Santa Ana. Other buildings built around the square include the parish halls, the seat of the regent, the high court and the historical archives of the provinces.
Santa Ana Square
Plaza Santa Ana - City Hall
Calle Espíritu Santo runs next to Plaza Santa Ana. It leads to the triangular Plaza del Espíritu Santo, the place of the Holy Spirit. A chapel of the same name stands on one side of the square. A roofed fountain is an eye-catcher of the square. Stately houses surround the square.
Plaza del Espíritu Santo
A memorial to the legendary Canarian dogs was erected in front of the cathedral at Plaza Santa Ana. We counted eight magnificent dog sculptures.
Before leaving Vegueta, we will visit the chapel of San Antonio Abad. In front of the chapel, an inscription draws attention to the fact that Columbus prayed in this little church before setting off on his journey to the New World.
The monument of the Canarian dogs
Plaza de San Antonio Abad
We save ourselves the nearby Museo Canario. It is dedicated to the life of the Guanches, the indigenous people of the Canary Islands.
Time is running out. We have to go back and there are still a few interesting buildings ahead of us. We first pass the Teatro Guiniguada, which was completed in 1938. Theater and dance performances, concerts and cinema events take place regularly in the temple of the Muses.
We cross the relief road at the height of the theater. Opposite us is the small Plaza de las Ranas in the Triana district. Tall trees shade the square, which is named after the frogs that lived in the Barranco riverbed before the Carretera del Centro was built.
Outstanding buildings in the Plaza de Cairasco
We really want to see our next destination, the Plaza de Cairasco in the Triana district. Before we reach the square, we pass the Biblioteca Insular. Soon afterwards we are in the Plaza de Cairasco in front of our next destination, the Gabinete Literario. It is said to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The origin of the “Literary Cabinet” is easy to explain. In 1844 a private initiative of prominent citizens was formed with the sole aim of supplying the members of the initiative with English, Spanish and French newspapers and literary works. Gambling could also be pursued; after all, the British were among the founding members of the community. Nowadays there is a generally accessible café, newspaper archive and library on the ground floor. Festive rooms and function rooms are rented for events and functions. Tourists are not allowed to enter; however, a look inside the magnificent building is permitted.
Gabinete Literario - reading room
Next to the Gabinete Literario is the Hotel Madrid. Many Spaniards see the building as a place steeped in history. The reason: After staying in this hotel, General Franco took power in Spain in 1936.
Next to the Plaza de Cairasco is a small, well-kept park with a bust of Christopher Columbus.
A bust of Columbus in the Plaza de Cairasco
At the back of the Teatro Peréz Galdós we board the bus on Avenida Rafael Cabrera that takes us back to the Parque de Santa Catalina. He drives past the city beach, the marinas and the Club Náutico.
From the bus stop, it's no more than a short hop to the cruise ship. If you want, you can take a look at the Centro Comercial El Muelle, the modern shopping mall with many shops.
On our tour we saw the main attractions of the city of Las Palmas. In contrast, we avoided the commercial Pueblo Canario, the Canarian village. Instead, we would have liked to see the futuristic Alfredo Kraus Auditorium; unfortunately there was not enough time. We saw the Congress and Concert Palace on another occasion. Under In the afternoon on Paseo las Canteras we report about it. The Torre Woermann, completed in 2005, was not to be overlooked. The 72 meter high residential high-rise stands out due to its idiosyncratic design.
If time is limited, the route shown is recommended. The cost of the bus tickets is low. There is even time for a stop or two in one of the many bars along the way.
Update January 2021