Natural pools in Agaete, Gran Canaria © Turismo de Canarias
Puerto de las Nieves
Acantilados y playa
On the northwestern coast of the island of Gran Canary stand the whitewashed houses of Agaete. Jagged crags of volcanic rock plunge into the Atlantic ocean creating spectacular cliff faces, while ravines jut back into the island's interior. The spring temperatures of the Canary Islands are more humid here, covering the entire terrain in lush vegetation and beautifully highlighting the contrast between the houses, ocean and mountains. A seafaring atmosphere, excellent beaches and a gastronomy without compare are other options this village provides.
The island of Gran Canary is said to be a continent in miniature because of the great variety of landscapes and the number of microclimates it possesses. The town of Agaete is a fine example of this orographical diversity since in only a few square kilometres, we can enjoy its beaches nestling between cliffs, the seafaring flavour of the Port of las Nieves, the historic heritage in town and the spectacular views which await us in its valley and ravine. Around the old seafaring enclave of Puerto de las Nieves there are spectacular beaches to suit all tastes. Some of them run in front of the promenade, where you'll find pavement cafés and restaurants to try the fresh fish. Other beaches are more isolated and nudism is common on them. Its marina makes it easy to do the most varied water sports. In the cliff area, where the crags of Faneque and Tirma meet the sea, stands the so-called God's Finger: a striking needle of volcanic rock which is separated from the shelf of the island. Hermitage of las Nieves In the Port of las Nieves you can visit the hermitage of the same name, built in the 17th century when Agaete was a strong sugar cane exporting centre. Erected around it are the fishermen's houses which gave rise to the current layout of the town. Inside, it houses a Flemish triptych of great historic value dedicated to Nuestra Señora de las Nieves. Between this port and the current town of Agaete you can see the Casa Fuerte, ordered to be built at the end of the 15th century to hasten the conquest of the island, and which was later the residence of the governor of these lands. Its historical importance means it has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest. And prominent in town, among the whitewashed houses, is the church of la Concepción. Rebuilt in the 19th century, its most characteristic features are the red stonework and the white wall faces. Next door you have the Huerto de las Flores, a delightful botanical gardens with more than a hundred species from around the world. Other emblematic places of interest are the City Hall and the current Municipal Arts Centre, both old mansions from the 19th century built by the island's middle classes. The pre-Hispanic legacy of the Gaunches is patently clear in the archaeological site known as the necropolis of Maipés. There are more than six hundred burial mounds here, which have been declared a Site of Cultural Interest and a Historic-Artistic Monument. Valley of Agaete The valley of Agaete, meanwhile, leads to the ravine of the same name. Hillsides covered in vegetation give way to tropical fruit plantations where the terrain levels out. The pine groves which follow frame the houses which arise at the edge of the ravine, as is the case of Los Berrazales (the site of a spring of medicinal waters) and Hornillo. In the wildest areas, the terrain is cut into artificial terraces to allow cultivation, on the very edge of precipices more than 100 metres deep. The rugged geography of the island of Gran Canary offers the traveller a great many landscapes in a small area. A large number of beaches are dotted all along the island's northern coast, while travelling inland will lead us to the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, passing interesting towns on the way. In Gáldar, the old Guanche capital, the aboriginal cave paintings of Cueva Pintada await you. In town, the most striking buildings are the City Hall and the church of Santiago de los Caballeros. The journey can continue on to Guía, famous for its cheeses and for the pre-Hispanic cave of Cenobio de Valerón. Pine forests escort the traveller until the Tile ravine, at the foot of Moya. La Caldera de los Pinos de Gáldar is the greenest area on the island and home to the volcano which dominates the entire nothern sector of Gran Canary. To see a fine exhibition of traditional Canary Island architecture we must continue on to Teror, site of the Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pino, patron of the island. Outstanding in Arucas, meanwhile, are the basilica of San Juan and the Gourié Mansion. The Mountain of Arucas has excellent views of the coastline. Las Palmas Only Las Palmas de Gran Canaria remains on this northern route. Its chief points of interest are shared between Las Palmas and Puerto de la Luz. A colonial past mixed with the Guanche legacy and the fact that, like all the Canary Islands, it is situated only a short distance from Africa have made this a racially diverse city. There is a great variety of culture available in the beachfront area and around the port, excellent places to try the island's cuisine. Both Puerto de las Nieves and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria can boast the best fresh fish on the island. Their ports guarantee the excellent quality of this raw material for a great many tasty recipes. Local fish, such as jewfish grouper, sama, morena or vieja, form the main ingredient of roasts, stews or grills. "Papas arrugadas" potatoes, of an excellent quality and flavour, and "mojo verde" with coriander (a pepper sauce) accompany every dish. Watercress stew with roasted maize meal, roast leg of pork, Guía cheeses or local desserts will complete any tasting.