When Christopher Columbus set out to discover a short route to China, he accidentally discovered America.
The last point of the civilisation before he set out into the unknown was Gran Canaria, for this is where the trade winds carried him before really going out into the unknown.
But where did he stay in the Canaries? And the answer is probably the Governor’s house, and this, or its successor has now been made into a Christopher Columbus Museum.
This house is probably slight;y later, but Columbus may well have stayed in a predecessor house on the same site
Above is the main facade looking out onto the square at the western end of the Cathedral.
It has now been turned into a Christopher Columbus museum, with models of his ships and the layout of the interior of one of the ships.
His fleet consisted of three ships, almost unbelievably small, and models of all three ships were on display in the museum.
The principal ship was the Santa Maria which had a total complement of 52 men.
It was a carrack, that is a cargo ship. It was a good sailer and would stand up well in bad weather, but it was not able to come close to land.
But it could carry a lot of cargo, the food that would be needed for a voyage of unknown length. It did not complete the voyage: it was wrecked off Haiti and only the two smaller ships returned to Spain.
The other two ships, the Pinta and the Nina were even smaller, with a crew of around 20.
The crew usually slept out on deck, and only went below when the weather was very rough.
They were caravels and did not have the carrying capacity of the Santa Maria, but they were much more manoeuvrable and could go up creeks and rivers to explore.
The Pinta (top) was square rigged with two square sails and a triangular sail at the rear.
The capital of the island of Gran Canaria, is Las Palmas, where the historic centre is Vergueta. Next door to the Governor’s house is the Cathedral, built mostly in the 16th century.
The great glory of the Cathedral however, is the interior, with the columns stretching up like palm trees and forming a wonderful vista
And then there are the beaches! Las Palmas has some fine beaches: to the north of the old town is a long peninsula with the magnificent harbour on one side and a fine beach on the other.
.This view from our bedroom window showing the hidden secret of the beach — the bar that can be seen on the other side of the harbour on which the waves break, so that swimming on the beach is very safe.
The beach is very suitable for swimming as it is closed off by a bar on which the Atlantic rollers break.
Here the bar can be seen at low tide – at high tide it is visible only by the line of waves breaking on it.
Surfers love it – it is ideal surfing country
The Mercado del Puerto
Just behind the port is one of the most remarkable buildings in Las Palmas, the Mercado del Puerto, or the Port Market. This was built in 1891 by none other than Gustave Eiffel, the great French consulting engineer, and it is a good example of what was called the ‘Modernist’ style, simple yet elegant, basic engineering combined with a touch of Art Nouveau.