Las Palmas - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Las Palmas

Las Palmas

The capital of Gran Canaria and bustling holiday resort, Las Palmas is situated at the northeast tip of the island, between two long stretches of beach. The city was founded in 1478 and was the spot where Christopher Columbus began each of his voyages to the Americas. Much of the original Vegueta district remains behind the modern apartment blocks, which line the seafront, and there are many interesting sights and museums to visit. The ambience is lively, evident of a population of southern temperament not always taking life at its most serious. Las Palmas' great cultural offerings, attractive festivities and highly recommendable cuisine attract thousand of holidaymakers every year and make for a memorable stay.

Information & Facts

Spanish is the official language, but English is widely understood in areas frequented by tourists. Catalan, Galician and Basque are spoken in the relevant areas.

Spain's official currency is the Euro (EUR). One Euro is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at bureaux de change and major hotels, but banks give the best rates. All major credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and shops. ATMs are widespread and are generally the cheapest and most convenient method of obtaining money.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October). The Canary Islands: GMT (GMT +1 in summer).

The delightful town of Arucas sits beneath a dormant volcano on the northern coast of Gran Canaria, and is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit. The neat town is dominated by the majestic Church of San Juan Bautista, carved in stone by local workers. The town is also the centre of sugar and rum production on the island and visitors are welcome at the Fabrica y Museo del Ron to witness how sugar cane is turned into rum. It is possible to take a short walk out of the town to the Montana de Arucas viewpoint for a panoramic look at the northern coastline.

Christopher Columbus is believed to have stayed for different periods in the Casa de Colon in the historical quarter of Vegueta in Las Palmas on his way to the Americas. The house now serves as a museum displaying relics of early transatlantic voyages and pre-Columbian cultures, as well as acting as a cultural centre for the study of the Canaries' relationship with the Americas.

The main museum in Las Palmas is well worth a visit, boasting the world's largest collection of Cro-Magnon skulls and a few mummies. The museum also gives a comprehensive overview of the life and times of Gran Canaria's original inhabitants, the fair-haired light-skinned Guanche people, who were conquered by the Spanish in the 15th century.

The whitewashed Pueblo Canario was the pet project of Canarian artist Nestor Martin-Fernandez de la Torre, who conceived and oversaw the creation of this idealised representation of a typical island village in Dorames Park, Las Palmas. Buildings surround a square where performances of traditional folk music and dance take place every Sunday morning. The village also contains the Museo Nestor, in which is housed a collection of the artist's modernist paintings. The village also contains a Bodegon (wine bar) serving local dishes.

Those with a soft spot for reptiles should visit Reptilandia, situated a little off the beaten tack, near Agaete in the northwest of the island. It includes a collection of snakes, tortoises, turtles and lizards - the Komodo Dragon here is believed to be the largest lizard in the world. There are also sections on spiders and monkeys.

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