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The Route of Santa Lucía

Welcome, dear visitor. The route you have chosen will allow you to get to know the municipality of Santa Lucia, located in the southeast of the island. It is a beautiful place that stretches from the sea to the mountain summits, and plains, towering rock faces and ravines can be found within it. The extension of this municipality reaches 60 square kilometres, it is situated around 680 metres above sea level and about 50 kilometers south of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The route by car is easy, and if you so desire I'll accompany and guide you.

 

We leave from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the GC-1 motorway going towards the south. Some 35 kilometres along this road we will see a sign indicating the exit to Vecindario. We take this exit whilst continuing to pay attention to the road signs. A little further on we find the indication sign of “Casco Urbano” (the town centre), and it is now that we begin to feel the hustle and bustle of the town activity.

We are already in Vecindario, so park the car in any of the town carparks and if you like, we will follow on foot.

 

Vecindario

The characteristics of this area of the island are rich and varied, and have given the town a wide range of attractions for visitors like youself. As we head towards the Plaza of La Era (the town square), I'll give you some further information so that you can have a better understanding of what you are going to find in this municipality.

The southeast of Gran Canaria is one of the windiest areas in the archipelago, and you now find yourself in the municipality where one of the trial competitions for the World Windsurfing Championships takes place. This area is considered one of the best places for the practise of this sport in the whole of Europe. The wind has also made it possible for this municipality to be a place of reference in the study and implementation of renewable energies. The entire surroundings, especially on the coast, are a brief history of wind harvesting methods.

If during your drive you have not yet seen any wind turbines or windmills, you were probably concentrating on the road instead of the landscape, which is fine. Don't worry, you are sure to see them later. During today's route we will pass by the Technological Institute of the Canary Islands, located on the coast of this municipality.

 

Plaza de La Era

We are now in the Plaza de La Era, a symbol to the traditions of the municipality and the location of the Tourist Information Office. Here you can obtain any information you desire.

If you have alredy obtained all the necessary information, I'll take you to the Avenida de Canarias Street.

 

Avenida de Canarias

This three kilometre street now forms the largest open air shopping area in the Canary Islands, being one of the greatest examples of the transition of economic activity in the municipality, from the twentieth century to the present day.

Sardina del Sur and Doctoral lie at either end of La Avenida, along which we are now walking, and which was formerly the access road to the south of the island.

Agriculture was the main economic activity of the town until the late twentieth century, date in which the service sector, especially trade, began to gain ground to form the current framework. Nowadays, we can shop in what is the commercial hub of the southeastern part of Gran Canaria, sit on a bench to read, walk along the pedestrian zone or drink at one of the terraces, but by doing so we won't cease to enjoy and learn about the traditional atmosphere and the origins of what is now a town reborn. In order to do this we could go to the Zafra Museum, located in Isla de la Graciosa Street, number 33, between La Avenida de Canarias and the sea.

If you want to continue along the Avenue, don't worry about me, I will wait for you on this bench.

When you're ready, I'll accompany you to the Zafra Museum.

 

Zafra Museum

Are you ready? A short walk through the streets of Vecindario has brought us to the museum's facilities, which occupy 4,000 square meters spread over two buildings. Here we can get to know the most important aspects of the history of the municipality of Santa Lucía, related to the cultivation and packaging of tomatoes. In the first building, a number of small objects will allow you to delve into the lives of the sharecroppers who worked the land, and even see the vehicles used at the time to move around or transport the product. A sample of huts or living-quarters will make you imagine the conditions of life for workers and their families at the time, together with information boards to increase your knowledge of the area where you now find yourself.

If you poke your face through the window of the living-quarters I'll take your picture. Great!

Without leaving the museum facilities we reach the second building, where we can see an original well which is still in operation today, and from which 15 litres of water per second are taken daily, in addition to learning about the use of the water and the buildings constructed to to make the most of it; of which only a few remain on the island. Have you seen any water irrigation ditches during your visit on the island? Maybe until now you haven't noticed, but after visiting the exhibition, you will recognize old buildings and waterways that were once used in the archipelago. If you have already absorbed and assimilated the information provided by this museum, and in the hope that you have enjoyed the visit, I will accompany you by car to the exit from the urban area of Vecindario, and head to the coastal area of the municipality: Pozo Izquierdo.

 

Pozo Izquierdo Beach

All we have to do is take the GC-1 and exit at Vecindario-Pozo Izquierdo, once we have taken the exit, we will be in what is known as "the road to pozo", all is well signposted, and you will arrive at a small enclave with a few houses. The beach is located just to the right of these. Opposite the beach, there is a parking lot.

This is the beach that I mentioned on the way to La Plaza de laEra. The Beach of Pozo Izquierdo, considered one of the most important in Gran Canaria for the practise of windsurfing. One of the world meccas for the lovers of wind, that has given birth to the Canarian Ruano sisters, world windsurfing champions on numerous occasions.

This beach frequently withstands strong winds and waves, and it is thanks to this that it has been chosen as one of the most important spots for celebrating the world windsurfing championships. Also on the beach of Pozo Izquierdo, at the end of the Avenue, is located the International Windsurfing Centre. Would you like to have a look around? Go ahead.

 

The International Windsurfing Centre

The accommodation capacity of this facility is for 90 people and is prepared for the practice of the nautical sport par excellence in the area. If on the other hand you like diving, it also offers courses and equipment hire for its practice. Anything you might need when practicing any of these sports, can be provided in the Windsurfing specialized shops found in the surroundings. The Centre's facilities include a restaurant with live perfomances at the weekends. Can you imagine yourself here, at the edge of the beach with a drink in hand, listening to live music?

Hopefully, the wind won't blow this plan away.

Another positive aspect which the wind has brought, with its regularity and speed, is the development of renewable energy technology, which has allowed for a boom in the harnessing of wind energy. I guess the wind turbines located around this place will have caught your eye. If we continue by car heading south, that is to say towards the wind-turbines closest to the coast, along a tarmacked roadway, and once you have left the desalination plant to your left, you will reach the gate to the Technological Institute of the Canary Islands. Currently, from here, the best way to promote the use of renewable energy in West Africa, is studied. We can leave our car at the Institute's gate forecourt. From the gate, facing the limitless sea, we take the dirt track that skirts the Technological Park and follow it; it doesn't seem to reach anywhere, but a few feet further on, we can see a white building. Welcome! You are now at the former salt makers house. The salt flats are known as Las Salinas de Tenefé.

 

Las Salinas de Tenefé

Las Salinas (or salt flats) are located on the coast of the municipality of Santa Lucía de Tirajana, in the area known as La Punta de Tenefé, next to El Saladar Maritime Park. This is a place for marine research and there is a significant presence of endemic flora. The salt flats occupy a piece of land on the sea waterfront, with a surface area of 20,000 square metres, and are constructed from clay.

The flats were built in the late eighteenth century, with the main objective of selling salt to the fishing boats that worked the canarian-saharan coast and to supply the islands consumer demand. Originally these salt flats had three windmills that pumped water to the higher areas of the flats. For this reasons the salt flats were known as “Las Salinas de los Trés Molinos” (the salt flats of the three mills).

Las Salinas de Tenefé were declared of Cultural Interest, with the category of Ethnological Site on the 26th April 2005.

In the Canaries there used to exist more than 60 salt works, mostly located in the eastern islands of the archipelago. At present, most of them are in a state of disrepair or have disappeared.

Within the salt works is located the Salinas de Tenefé Interpretation Center, which occupies the house of the former salt maker, a traditional building that was both used as housing, for the people who exploited the salt, and as storage.

Today, these salt works continue generating salt in very small amounts and the production months oscilate between March and October.

How about, if after this salty visit, we move into the rural areas of the municipality with a change of pace. One advantage of this municipality is that within minutes you can go from the coast to the countryside. How about trying it? Then, let's go to the car and I'll guide you.

 

The Route through Santa Lucia

The 15 kilometres that separate the urban centres from the rural areas run through one of the most beautiful landscapes of the island. We once again take the same road by which we came and go in the direction of Vecindario, but this time we pass it by, and follow the sign which says Santa Lucia, the GC-65 road on which we will cross the Barranco of Tirajana gully. During this trip you will feel the change in temperature, a difference of between 2 and 10 degrees less than on the coast, depending on the season. From now on, I will remain silent so you can enjoy the spectacular scenery into which you are now venturing.

 

Mirador del Guriete

The first “mirador” or viewpoint we encounter during the ascent, is the Guriete Mirador, a place where you can stop and enjoy the wonderful views that are displayed before you. As we continue climbing we approach the grandiose mountains behind which the sun sets, and where the play of light and shadows change daily, but never fails to be spectacular.

It's hard, but try not to lose yourself in the wonder and beauty of the landscape, since soon the crossing indicating the direction of “La Fortaleza de Ansite” and “La Presa de la Sorrueda” will appear. Don't miss it! Both sites are located along the same road, a road that brings us close, some 300 metres, to the Interpretation Center of Las Fortalezas, newly equipped and pending its opening. The same road also leads to the bottom of the gully. Here, there is no shortage of palm trees that provide the area with an air of exotism. The type of palm tree found in this area is of the species Phoenix canariensis, an endemic and natural symbol of the archipelago.

This palm tree, protected by Canarian law, somehow has the amazing feature of being able regenerate itself after a fire (as we can see from one that occured a few years ago in this same spot and where the only traces of the event appear in the form of the blackened palm trunks). This ecosystem has been essential to the traditional rural world since the days of the aboriginal canarians, as the trunk, the leaves, the “pírgano” (the central nerve of the leaf), the támaras (very thin wood), etc. are the raw materials of numerous handcrafting activities.

 

La Sorrueda

The first sign we find on the way, after the first group of palm trees, leads us to the second viewing point, that of La Sorrueda; where we can admire the dam, whose water level depends on the year's rainfall. The beauty of this dam is able to surprise any of its visitors.

 

The Grand Fortress of Ansite

To reach the Grand natural Fortress of Ansite, simply continue along the road and we will reach the archaeological site, consisting of Los Roques de La Fortaleza Chica, La Fortaleza Grande and Titana.

Here you have a great example of prehispanic habitat. This set of defenses served to connect this place with the Ansite Fortress, mentioned in the writings on the history of the Canary Islands. Supposedly here, the final battle between the aboriginal canarians and the Spanish (known as Castillians) took place; which marked the end of the armed conquest and annexation of the island to the Crown of Castile in 1483. I recommend you make a stop and enjoy the scenery. If you are determined, you can climb the rocks and follow paths that will lead you to both natural and artificial caves.

We still have the visit to the village centre of Santa Lucia. To reach the village drive back the road we came on, and return to the GC-65 road. At a little distance, on the right hand side, we find The HAO Fortress Castle Museum.

 

EL HAO Fortress Castle Museum

This is another visit I recommended. This is basically an archaeological museum, since it displays remains found at the archeological sites in the area. Furthermore, here we will also see ethnographic, botanical and zoological elements. Whilst you visit the museum, I'll hang around. Do not hurry, as there is a garden where to appreciate the existence of local plants and fruit trees from different latitudes, where I love to lose myself for a while.

You seem enriched by the museum experience.

Let's leave the car here, as just a few metres further on we have the old village centre. breathe the smell of the village, and if it is winter, it surely smells of firewood.

 

Village Centre of Santa Lucia

Once inside the old village centre, overseen by the Church of Santa Lucia, we can see the typical rural buildings adorned with stone. The heart of the village lies at two heights, inviting us to climb to the top and make out the wonderful views that unfold from there.

 

The Church of Santa Lucia

In the People's Square, located on the side of a hill of the upper level of the village centre, we find the Church of Santa Lucia, a historic and artistic building constructed in 1905. One must highlight the structure of its façade, beautifully carved in stone with various historical and religious motiffs.

The whiteness and morphology of its dome, make it clearly distict and visible from afar. One must point out that of its artistic historic heritage, a 50cm crucifix (work by the Canarian sculptor Luján Pérez and made entirely of wood) and an unfinished painting occupying the entire front wall (designed by the painter from Telde, José Arencibia) stand out.

Art, history, sports, nature and tradition are the range of things which. with any luck you have enjoyed at the end of this visit through the municipality of Santa Lucía. Hopefully you have enjoyed it as much as I have. However before parting, one last piece of advice, do not leave without trying the “puño” bread and the olives, good local products. Safe journey, dear visitor.

Thanks and see you soon!

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