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The rare magic of no man’s land

Look under the sea of beaches for something quite rare and extraordinary, born out of the blending of cultures going back hundreds of years, all of which sprang up from a crossroads location.

A sailboat anchors in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is such a crossroads. The meeting place for people from a thousand different places. A strange blend of aromas, colours, and cultures that would hit ancient travelers all of a sudden. The last European port of call, the last breath of fresh air prior to setting off on a long ocean adventure.

No one expected such a blend so far from the major centres of the world. Sailors have been repeating the same tune for over five centuries, “This should not be here!” they say. But it is. For frontiers make up their own rules.

A couple smiling at one another while strolling through Vegueta
A couple in the Cenobio de Valerón

And so it happened that half the world left their imprint on Gran Canaria. On the small towns with narrow streets, on the lost settlements. On magnificent villas, and on the ports of call for the steamships.

This should not be here. It defies logic. I should not be stumbling upon a huge neo-gothic church in the middle of a sea of banana trees. No way. I should not run into the ruins of a pre-Hispanic city only two steps off the market. Nor bump into a Genoese admiral right at the turn of the corner. Definitely not.

Two kids listening to the secrets of Gran Canaria
Two kids listening to the secrets of Gran Canaria

I should not find a giant aborigine hanging from a monumental cliff. Perish the thought! I should not come upon a colonial district built in the 15th century, hidden within a noisy and lively port town, on an island that should not have left such a trail of towns, colours, flavours and aromas, music, art, architecture, and different faces.

But it is all here, in Gran Canaria. You will only get to see it if you look under the sea of beaches, where our rare and magic blend came about.

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