They became a part of the Spanish Kingdom in 1496. The water in El Golfo Crater, on the island of Lanzarote, glows green. The islands have two capital cities, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruze de Tenerife. The islands are home to the highest point in Spain, El Teide, on the island of Tenerife, 12,198 feet tall, also the third tallest volcano in the world. And it’s the home of the 11 yard Gran Telescopio Canarias, the world’s largest single aperture optical telescope. Today, we’re in the Islands of Dogs, the Canaries.
The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands are a liberal and modern autonomous Spanish archipelago, made up of 13 islands and islets, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Its nearest neighbours include Azores, Cabo Verde, Madeira and Morocco. It is the 13th largest autonomous Spanish community at 2,893 square miles, with a population of just over two million people. The name of the archipelago comes from the Latin name Canariae Insulae and means ‘Islands of Dogs’, because of the large abundance of very large dogs on the islands. The Canary Bird was actually named after the islands, not the other way round.
These multicultural and volcanic islands offer a mix of harsh desert and soothing greenery, occupied by a friendly, creative and warm people, who enjoy their carnivals and sports, in particular, Canarian wrestling, the game of sticks, shepherd’s jump, and the less glamorously named football. Canarians are a sociable and generous folk, good-hearted and imaginative, residing in a place of rich musical heritage and one of unique culinary delight, mixing the foods of Africa, Spain and Latin America. It is a serene and pleasant sun-kissed land of extreme beauty.
There are sights to see such as Auditorio de Tenerife on the island of Tenerife. A remarkable modern building built in 2003 in the expressionist style, a building that defies logic and reason yet, at the same time, astounds one with its amazing humility, grace and simplicity. But it’s not just modern gems. There are ancient wonders, too, such as Iglesia Matriz de San Juan Bautista, an amazing and awe-inspiring church that was built between 1909 and 1977, on the island of Gran Canaria. A masterpiece and a testament incredible human endeavour and craftsmanship. An ethereal building of supreme grandeur and delight, surrounded by a landscape equally as gorgeous.
And then there’s Caldera de Taburiente National Park on the island of La Palma. A huge caldera cocooning multiple ribbons of trees so fine they almost appear to create a carpet of Velcro. Cupped in a hand of steep and dramatic rock faces, all combining to create a colourful, eclectic and powerful view. A wonderful place.
But I think the best sight of the archipelago is Timanfaya National Park on the island of Lanzarote, covering nearly 20 square miles. Perhaps the closest one can get on Earth to the surface of Mars. Mile after mile of volcanic land, punctuated by huge mountains of rock. Yet this is not a harsh place, rather a landscape empyrean and heavenly, soothing and calming. An endless breathtaking vista that catapults one to some other world, some other realm far beyond anything Earthly. It radiates alluring majesty and draws you in with some kind of eternal and ageless magic. A place truly stunning.
The Canaries. A place of imagination, culture and huge dogs.
1) The flag of the Canaries (credit: wikipedia.org)
2) Timanfaya National Park (credit: wikipedia.org)
3) Caldera de Taburiente National Park (credit: wikipedia.org)
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