Gran Canaria is the name given to the island, and has been for centuries now.
Call me Gran Canaria. That’s my name and the only one I answer to. That’s how I’ve been known for centuries and is the denomination which tells of my history, my essence, the people who live on me, the air that breezes past my peaks, and all the people, legends, experiences and amorous conquests and failures that have occurred, are occurring and are yet to occur along my shoreline. Call me Gran Canaria, because these two words alone are the backbone to everything I am and everything I can offer you.
The early references made to my present-day name are guarded under lock and key in historical archives, in hand-written manuscripts, with ink that has aged with time, from a period tinged with the breath of kings. The Chronicle of Henry III came to light in the 15th century, in which reference is made to the year 1393 and mention made of ‘Canaria la Grande’. Yes, that’s me, Canaria la Grande. A while still had to pass though before the name was converted to the one that gave rise to my current name, Gran Canaria, according to the Royal Decree of 1494.
One woman, Queen Isabel la Católica, one of the few people ever to feel to have possessed an important portion of the world, signed a law in the 15th century which stated the following: “I now duly order, that this Canary Isle should be called Great”. And from that point it was just a matter of time, custom and adaptation of the linguistic jargon of the people that the name of Gran Canaria should emerge over the ocean’s horizon. The island had already existed for millions of years. The new name alighted on it little by little, with the grace of a blue chaffinch, and the name stayed for ever.
An Italian engineer, who hailed from Cremona but who was born to travel the earth and discover wonders such as Gran Canaria, also contributed to sealing my official name in history, in his book ‘Discription and history of the kingdom of the Canary Islands, formerly the fortunate isles, with their fortress-like appearance’, dated 1558. “It is to be believed”, he wrote, “that this island of Gran Canaria, favoured by a particular influence of the stars (for the things that can be seen of it), has taken pride of place among the rest of the Fortunate Isles, as has been indicated at the beginning of this book”.
“Indeed”, added Torriani, “this tiny territory was formerly so fertile and with such an abundance of natural resources, that it was able to provide for nearly sixty thousand souls, with no need to rely on other lands, and the men here were so brave and astute, that in terms of military standing, and despite its rusticity, it compared favourably with highly noble nations, as time will tell, with no little admiration”. And yes indeed, time proved this to be. The illustrious Italian builder and traveller lacked no foretune-telling powers when he told of the wonders of me, Gran Canaria.
The word ‘gran’ has been with me, as you can see, almost since time immemorial. For this reason I am a ‘great’ destination, a great land, a great place to discover, a great land to return to. I am Gran Canaria. Call me by that name and only that name, and I will call you by your name, whoever you are.