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As the weather gets colder everyone starts dreaming about escaping to an exotic location where the sun still smiles bright and shiny, leaving the menacing winter behind with its snow, storms, and temperatures so low that makes you feel like another ice age has begun.  

The most sought-after tourist destinations during the colder months of the year are of course the golden sandy beaches that offer visitors the warmth and relaxation they are seeking. Although there’s nothing wrong with running away for holidays to a charming island where the temperatures are friendlier, this is definitely not the only time of the year when you can enjoy them. 

Gran Canaria is one of those islands that people think of when imagining an exotic paradise and rightfully so. Nature was more than generous when creating the island’s breathtakingly diverse landscapes. More than 40% of Gran Canaria’s surface was declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO, so it’s easy to imagine the multitude of natural wonders that one can find here. 

But Gran Canaria has much more to offer than scenic settings and the ever-popular fun in the sun. The unique character and charm of the island is also a result of its rich history and culture. So if you visit Gran Canaria, it would be a great idea to get up from your lounge chair and start exploring the many treasures hidden across the island. If you’re not sure where to start from, you can ask for information at one of the hotels in Gran Canaria. They can offer you all the tips and advice necessary to help you plan your itinerary. Just make sure you also include these attractions on your list: 

The Cueva Pintada Museum and Archaeological Park

Start your trip down the history lane by going back to the times when the island was populated by ancient Canarians. The Cueva Pintada Museum and Archeological Park are located in the center of Galdar and offer the visitor a priceless insight into the pre-Hispanic life in Gran Canaria. Although there are many mysteries that remained unsolved, the wall paintings in the Cueva Pintada (meaning painted cave) and the ancient village that was discovered after long excavations will give you a glimpse into the fascinating world of the aboriginal inhabitants of the island. 

Vegueta

Vegueta is the oldest part of the capital city of Las Palmas. The settlement started to develop at the end of the 15th century and later gave rise to the capital that we know today. It’s no surprise that it’s narrow cobbled streets are packed with historic buildings and sites that speak volumes of the culture of the place. Santa Ana Cathedral and Museo Canario are just two of the many iconic buildings worth visiting in Vegueta. In fact, every street here is a history lesson in its own right. 

 

Casa de Colon

Since we mentioned Vegueta, there’s one building here that deserves more attention. Not many people know that Christopher Columbus stopped in Gran Canaria in his voyages in 1492, on his way to the Americas. The mansion where Columbus stayed, known as Casa de Colon, belonged to the first governors of the island and is opened to visitors every day. If you’re passionate about Columbus's life and travels, this is definitely a must-see. There’s a wealth of fascinating knowledge you can discover here about the history of the Canary Islands and the life on the islands before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. 

The Ermita de San Antonio Abad

Also in Vegueta, next to La Casa de Colon, the Ermita de San Antonio Abad is another site related to Christopher Columbus's journeys. The little church dates back to 1492, the year Columbus started his expeditions to find the new world. Although small, the church holds an important historical significance as it is said that Columbus stopped here before heading to the Americas to pray for a safe journey.  

Teror

Situated in the mountains, Teror is one of the oldest towns on the island and one that has a very special story. It was founded in 1481 after an apparition of the Virgin on its location. La Virgen del Pino became the patron saint of the island and the town became a place of pilgrimage. In the 18th century, the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pino was built in honor of the patron saint, so the town holds an important symbolical and religious value for the islanders. 

The Maspalomas Lighthouse

The Maspalomas Lighthouse is an iconic landmark of Gran Canaria. Situated at the southern extremity of the island, the Maspalomas Lighthouse is as active as it was back when it was built in 1890. It might not be the oldest site on the island, but there’s definitely a nostalgic air to it as it takes you back to the times when it would guide the ships coming from Africa and America. 

Caves of Valeron 

Situated upon the rocks of Valeron, the Caves of Valeron are one of the most impressive historical sites on the island. The complex formed out of almost 300 caves, built before Roman times, was used by the original population of Gran Canaria as a collective granary for hundreds of years, until the end of the 15th century. 

Arucas

14 km from Las Palmas lies the picturesque town of Arucas. Rebuilt in 1480 after being completely destroyed during the Spanish conquest of the island, the town holds many interesting features. One stunning landmark that you shouldn’t miss here is the church of San Juan Bautista, dating from 1909. It’s impossible to miss anyway since it rises majestically over the town with its stunning architecture and splendid tours. 

As you can see, Gran Canaria is as rich in history and culture as it is in natural wonders and scenic views. Every corner of the island brims with fascinating stories that became part of its identity over the centuries and offer a valuable link to the past.