Our city, with more than 530 years of history, started out more like military camp than capital city. El Real de Las Palmas, raised on the right-hand side of the Guiniguada ravine, was Europe's first overseas urban centre and served as a model for the creation of hundreds of cities in the Americas, from Patagonia to the United States.
The city was founded on the 24th June 1478. Soon after, El Real de Las Palmas was transformed from a military post - from which the conquest of Gran Canaria was launched - into a thriving town. On the site where the chapel of San Antonio Abad and the Casa de Colón today stands, the Castilian forces once raised aloft their standards.
Period photo of Pilar Nuevo, behind the cathedral of Santa Ana. Six years after the conquest of the island, colonisation began with the distribution of land, the introduction of sugar cane plants and the production of sugar, destined for the markets of Europe. It was this crop that was the driving force behind the first major economic, demographic and building boom of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It allowed for the 'leap' to the other side of the Guiniguada ravine and led to the formation of Triana. This neighbourhood, from its commercial and marine beginnings became the home to the first port, in the spot where the San Telmo park currently stands.
For centuries, the capital of Gran Canaria was limited in size due to the walls that served to defend it against the multitude of pirate attacks that it suffered in the 16th and 17th centuries. Whilst in October 1595 the Canarian militias repelled an attack by 27 ships captained by the Britons John Hawkins and Francis Drake, in June 1599, Dutch forces, led by Van der Does, took part in one of the most tragic episodes in our history, sacking and burning down many of the city's most representative buildings.
Period photo of the San Telmo dock. The cochineal industry and the construction of the new port in the 19th century brought the city out of the long lethargy of previous centuries, only eased by the innovations of the Age of Enlightenment. In the second half of the century, the city began to stretch towards the bay of La Isleta and today's Puerto de La Luz, whose construction in 1883 gave rise to the modernisation of the city. Without the port, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria just would not be the same.
From across the sea arrived travellers and settlers, who over the centuries have helped shaped the open and friendly image of the city's inhabitants. Castilians, Flemings, Genoese and Portuguese came here in search of free lands to settle, or as a stopover on their way to the Americas or a platform between three continents. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a melting pot of races and cultures; a truly cosmopolitan society.
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