CANARY ISLANDS Lanzarote’s Castles and Museums Named after the black reefs which surround the bay, their rocky protection was no match for well-armed pirates who often stormed Arrecife on Lanzarote for pillage and plunder. So, the oldest castle in the Canary Islands was built in 1590 to guard the harbour. Today, Castillo San Gabriel is home to the Ethnographic Museum where the history, culture and beliefs of the Guanches – who originally inhabited the Canary Islands – can be explored. Castillo San Jose also stands guard over the harbour. No longer needed for protection, it now hosts the Museum of International and Contemporary Art. Built during the eighteenth century, the castle didn’t see action but its construction saved the lives of many displaced and impoverished islanders following a volcanic explosion. It was soon renamed Fortaleza del Hambre or the “Hunger Fortress” by the locals. 36 www.fredolsencruises.com Botanical Gardens of Gran Canaria To most gardeners, each individual Canary Island seems like a botanical garden in their own right – full of beautiful flowering plants and exotic palms we wish we could transplant back home. A particular highlight is Gran Canaria, home to a wide variety of plants and climates thanks to the mountainous terrain which has created protected valleys and undulating landscapes. From the sand dunes of Maspalomas in the south, to the valleys of the north coast, there are over 500 plant species endemic to this island alone. The best way to see these plants in all their glory is to visit the ‘Jardin Viera & Clavijo’. Just inland from Gran Canaria’s capital, Las Palmas, these botanical gardens are also home to some of the hundreds of plant species which can only be found in the Canary Islands. Merchant Houses and Churches of La Palma Santa Cruz, the capital town of La Palma, is home to a collection of merchant houses, ornate churches and atmospheric plazas. Founded a year after Columbus made his discovery of the Americas, Santa Cruz soon profited from the vast amount of trade between Spain and the New World. As the town grew, so did the inhabitants’ wealth, which is evident in the number of elegant buildings from this era, to be found in the old town. Here you can marvel at the quality of the historic facades, while the whitewashed walls, wooden balconies and blue skies provide the perfect backdrop for photo opportunities.
Closer Magazine Winter 2013-14
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