Christmas on the beach – Belén de Arena, Gran Canaria

The Nativity scenes, called “Belenes”, are an important tradition in Spain and the Canary Islands. Their origins are found in the 14th century in Italy, where some churches were decorated with them, and then this custom spread to other Catholic countries, like Spain. Almost every household had its own lovingly constructed Nativity scene. Traditionally, the set up of the scenes started on 13 December and the baby Jesus was added on 25 December. But nowadays with the increased popularity of the Christmas tree, most Nativity scenes only consist of the most important figures. However, many churches and communities are trying to maintain this tradition with detailed and artistic Nativity scenes. The most spectacular one of the Canary Islands is located in Gran Canaria. The “Belén de Arena” in the capital city of Las Palmas is made with sand by international sculptors on the beach Playa de Las Canteras. This year, the work was done by six artists, who, in just eight days, transformed more than a thousand tons of fine sand into a spectacular artwork, which occupies about 2,000 square meters of the beach of Las Canteras. The Sand Nativity Scene is one of the city’s top attractions during the Christmas period and ensures that even the beach with its warm temperatures gets a little bit of Christmas flair! The “Belén de Arena” can be visited until January 7 – a perfect destination for a trip during your holidays on Gran Canaria!
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The green heart of La Palma

La Palma is also called “Isla Bonita”, the “beautiful island”. Why this is so, one can best understand on a visit in the green heart of the island, the National Park “Parque Nacional de La Caldera de Taburiente”. It is one of Spain’s oldest national parks and in 2002, the park along with the entire island was designated as a World Biosphere Reserve. The depression was originated about two million years ago and, just like the rest of the island, it has a volcanic origin. The “Caldera de Taburiente” also has a special place in the history of the Canary Islands, because it was the place with the strongest resistance against the Spanish conquerors in the 15th century. At that time, La Palma or “Benahoare” (“my land”), as the island was called by the Aborigines, was divided into twelve kingdoms (“cantones”), each governed by a chief (“mencey”). The natives of La Palma were mainly goatherds and collected fruits and roots with which they made a kind of flour known as “gofio”. In 1492 the conquest of the island began under the leadership of Alonso Fernández de Lugo.
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5 places to visit – Tenerife

1. MASCA

The “lost village” is located in the north-west of the island, near the hills “Montes de Teno”. The beautiful village is located amongst impressive rock formations and lush vegetation. Until 1991 there was no road to Masca, but today the village can be reached by a winding road. This isolation has contributed to make Masca the best example of typical Canarian architecture. Masca is also a paradise for hikers who can walk through the canyons to the bay. The bay was once a hideaway for pirates. From there you can take a boat to Los Gigantes if you don’t want to return to Masca by foot (it takes several hours). You can also enjoy this unique landscape from the “Mirador de la Cruz de Hilda” in Teno.
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The Picasso of the Canary Islands – César Manrique

César Manrique is one of the most famous artists of the Canary Islands. Painter, architect, sculptor and environmentalist – Manrique, who was born in Arrecife (Lanzarote’s capital), had many talents. During the Spanish Civil War, the artist fought on the side of Franco. He would never speak about the terrible experiences he had during the war. After the war, Manrique began studying technical architecture in Tenerife. However, after two years, he interrupted his studies and entered the College of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid with the help of a scholarship. Manrique achieved great fame in the world of international art and exhibited his art in New York, where he was inspired by new artistic movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. In 1968 he returned to Lanzarote to make the island one of the most beautiful places on earth. In Lanzarote tourism was beginning to develop and Manrique committed himself to preserve the beauty of the island. In cooperation with the Government of Lanzarote, he developed a unique architectural look for the island: traditional white houses with green doors and the prohibition to place advertisements by the roads.
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Little paradise – La Graciosa

In the north of Lanzarote there is located a group of smaller islands, lovingly called “Archipiélago Chinijo” (“chinijo” is a Canarian word for “small”). The largest of these islands is La Graciosa with 29 square kilometers, the only one of the archipelago that is inhabited – about 600 residents enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this little paradise where not even paved roads exist. The island has two small villages, Caleta de Sebo, the capital, and Pedro Barba, a little town where some families have their holiday homes. Most islanders live off tourism and fishing, because La Graciosa is located near rich fishing grounds. To protect the almost untouched nature, La Graciosa is a marine reserve since 1995 and was later appointed as a biosphere reserve and a nature park.
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7 islands – 7 activities

1. LA PALMA – HIKING IN LA CALDERA DE TABURIENTE

In the heart of La Palma there is located the spectacular National Park “Parque Nacional de La Caldera de Taburiente”. The park is located in a crater-like depression of volcanic origin, which has a diameter of 8 kilometers. The steep and abrupt landscape has differences in altitude of nearly 2,000 meters. The highest point is the “Roque de Los Muchachos” with 2,426 meters, which also houses the observatory of La Palma. The beautiful landscape is dominated by the Canary Island pine (“pino canario”) and offers small streams and waterfalls. A hike in the “Caldera de Taburiente” is almost obligatory for any visitor of the island! There are different routes depending on how much time you have – a few hours, a day or even several days, because there is a possibility to camp in the National Park.

Im Herzen von La Palma befindet sich der spektakuläre Nationalpark “Parque Nacional de La Caldera de Taburiente”. Der Park befindet sich in einer kraterähnlichen Vertiefung vulkanischen Ursprungs, die einen Durchmesser von 8 Kilometer hat. Die steile und abrupte Landschaft kann Höhenunterschiede von fast 2.000 Metern aufweisen. Der höchste Punkt ist der “Roque de Los Muchachos” mit 2.426 Metern, wo sich auch das Observatorium von La Palma befindet. Die wunderschöne Landschaft wird von der kanarischen Pinie (“pino canario”) beherrscht und bietet kleine Bäche und Wasserfälle. Eine Wanderung in der “Caldera de Taburiente” ist ein absolutes Highlight! Es gibt verschiedene Routen je nachdem über wieviel Zeit man verfügt – einige Stunden, einen Tag oder sogar mehrere Tage, denn Sie können mit Genehmigung im Nationalpark campen.

En el corazón de La Palma se encuentra el espectacular Parque Nacional de La Caldera de Taburiente. El parque se encuentra en una depresión de origen volcánico, que tiene un diámetro de 8 kilómetros. El paisaje escarpado y abrupto dispone de variaciones de altitud de casi 2.000 metros. El punto más alto es el Roque de Los Muchachos con 2.426 metros, que también alberga el observatorio de La Palma. El bello paisaje está dominado por el pino canario y ofrece pequeños arroyos y cascadas. ¡Una caminata en la Caldera de Taburiente es casi obligatoria en sus vacaciones en La Palma! Hay diferentes rutas en función de la cantidad de tiempo del que dispone – de unas horas, un día o incluso varios días, ya que es posible acampar en el Parque Nacional después de obtener un permiso.
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