To the south of the island of Gran Canaria is Maspalomas, one of the most interesting tourist towns in the Canary archipelago and one of the youngest and most modern towns in all of Spain.
The origin of Maspalomas dates back to the 15th century, when the Spanish conquered the Canary Islands. They displaced the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the islands, ceding this vast territory to various noble families with the aim of establishing farmhouses.
This situation lasted until the beginning of 1960, when the government of Gran Canaria decided to publicize this area with the aim of transforming it into a large tourist area. Its name became Maspalomas.
To make this idea a reality, Count Alejandro del Castillo proposed the Maspalomas Costa Canarias International Competition. It was won by a French company that presented an ecologically sustainable architectural project.
This is how this singular tourist city was born. It covers the entire territory of the coast, including the municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, an area that goes from the port of Pasito Blanco to the El Berriel Aerodrome.
The city has an exclusive residential area for permanent workers, located in San Fernando de Maspalomas, El Tablero and Bellavista. The rest of Maspalomas is reserved almost exclusively for tourist use such as restaurants, bars, discos, sports centres, commercial premises, botanical gardens and theme parks.
Since the 1980s, Maspalomas has been a very important enclave for European tourism, particularly during the winter months, due to the wonderful tropical climate of the archipelago and its splendid natural beauty.
Taking into account its small size, Maspalomas is currently considered one of the most important tourist enclaves in all of Europe and the world, receiving hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
Top 5 places to visit in Maspalomas
Maspalomas is a dynamic, modern and young city with a vibrant pulse thanks to its splendid tourist offer. It also contains fascinating places that have become tremendously popular due to their attractiveness.
If there is one building that symbolizes Maspalomas, it is its legendary lighthouse, the oldest building still standing from the old agricultural settlement and the city's greatest heritage treasure.
This lighthouse, 58 meters high and with a typically cylindrical design raised on top of a small hill, underwent construction in 1861 by the famous engineer Juan de León y Castillo. This construction lasted for almost 30 years until the lighthouse was inaugurated in 1890. Its objective was to guide the ships that travelled the route to America.
The architectural ensemble is made up of the slender lighthouse tower and the house belonging to the keeper, with a rectangular floor plan that included the traditional Canarian-style patio and an eclectic style on its main façade.
Currently, the lighthouse is surrounded by modern buildings, which gives it a unique and interesting air, as it is still the highest construction in the area.
Located on the outskirts of the city is another great attraction of Maspalomas: the space centre belonging to the National Institute of Aerospace Technology of Spain. From there, the operation of the main European satellites is monitored. It is also a link to NASA on the route of their joint space missions.
This important space centre began to operate in 1961, when the Explorer 9 satellite was launched and monitored. Later came the Mercury-Atlas 4, Gemini and Apollo programs, among many others.
It is one of the most visited places, especially by academics and students. From it, one can enjoy spectacular views of the surroundings.
La Charca is the name given to the Special Natural Reserve located a short distance from the coastline and near Las Dunas, another of Maspalomas' natural treasures.
It is a protected space within Gran Canaria with an abundant and magnificent variety of flora and fauna such as reptiles, crustaceans, fish, insects and birds.
At the beginning of the 1960s, it had to undergo certain modifications to adapt it to tourism. Currently, it is under strict control and protection.
Undoubtedly, the greatest natural attraction in the city is its unique five-kilometre-long beach of fine white sand and crystal clear, warm waters of enormous beauty. Thanks to the tropical climate of Gran Canaria, they can be enjoyed throughout the year.
An interesting fact about this beach is that it has sectors with particular topography and characteristics. For example, the sector of the beach closest to the hotel area is ideal for families, while the sector of the beach located in Punta de Maspalomas is perfect for nudists and water sports.
Similarly, the sector known as El Inglés Beach is the perfect area for surfers due to its strong waves.
The Kasbah is the name of the largest shopping centre in the El Inglés beach area.
It is famous for hosting the largest number of discos in all of Maspalomas and is where most of the nightlife of the city takes place.
The Kasbah has an impressive offering of discos, as well as pubs and bars, all of them with different types of music and a wide range of drinks and tapas for all tastes.
What to do in Maspalomas
Maspalomas was born with the sole objective of providing an abundant recreational offer of the highest quality, with multiple options for all tastes. It is also based on festivities that have become enormously popular.
Multiple sports and recreational options
In Maspalomas, visitors and tourists have a huge variety of spaces for sporting enjoyment thanks to the multiple facilities available for tennis and traditional and indoor soccer, as well as several golf courses.
In addition, thanks to its enviable climate and topography and its excellent geographical location, Maspalomas offers everything needed to practice windsurfing, scuba diving and skydiving, as well as excellent hiking trails ideal for both amateurs and highly-skilled professionals. Nature lovers will be able to count on a variety of natural beauties.
An important commercial port
Another great advantage is that visitors and tourists can enjoy an infinite number of premises and commercial stores with products from the best international brands, especially footwear and fashion. The proximity of its port allows for low prices and a very active and attractive nightlife for all tastes.
Festivals for all tastes
Maspalomas stands out for its highly popular international festivals.
A festival of great significance is the lavish and picturesque Maspalomas International Carnival, characterized by large parties with costumes, music and events of all kinds.
There is also the Maspalomas Costa Canarias Soul Festival, which was created for music lovers and has gained great notoriety in recent years.
Without a doubt, the most important festivity, and the one that attracts the largest number of tourists each year, is the world famous Gay Pride, which takes place in Yumbo Shopping Centre in May. Dozens of musical groups gather for one of the biggest parties on the island.
Taking advantage of the island's mild climate, Winter Pride takes place in November. It is a second edition of Gay Pride and is considered the most lavish and massive winter event on the island. It attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year.
Accommodation in Maspalomas
Gastronomy in Maspalomas
Although Maspalomas is a very young city, just over 60 years old, its restaurants and bars have a menu inherited from the traditional gastronomy of Gran Canaria, based on fish and seafood as well as the many ingredients that came to the island after endless cultural exchanges with America, Africa and other places. These ingredients include corn, potatoes and sugar.
From this combination of ingredients, the cuisine of Gran Canaria is lavish in dishes, including a wide variety of stews and fried fish, seafood dishes and the traditional wrinkled potatoes, which is one of the most characteristic dishes of the Canary Islands.
A particular standout of the gastronomy of Gran Canaria is its spectacular wine and cheese tradition.
Since the beginning of the 16th century, the cultivation of the vine spread throughout the entire island, with grapes coming mostly from Crete.
In a very short time, the first wines began to be exported to regions as far away as England, Hamburg, Flanders and the American colonies.
Throughout the centuries, the winemaking tradition of Gran Canaria gained worldwide notoriety thanks to exquisite wines with Denominations of Origin such as Monte Lentiscal, Gran Canaria and many others.
As in the rest of the archipelago, in Gran Canaria one of the most consumed foods is cheese. This is thanks to a very important cheese-making tradition. Almost all cheese is obtained from cattle, but there is also an interesting selection of cheeses made with goat milk.
Among the most well-known and popular cheeses are the Flor and Cuchillo Canario, which are the most characteristic of all of Gran Canaria. There are also the Semi-Flor and the Guide cheese, made entirely with animal rennet.