This is a route for one day, but if you’ve time enough it’s better to take a van and enjoy some days more… So wherever you’re having your holidays on Gran Canaria it will be easy for you to reach the town of Gáldar, in the North West. Maybe you’re staying in Las Palmas and you’re lied on the sofa after a good breakfast, so in that case wake up and pick up your car, we’re starting! Take the GC2, the road of the North Coast, with direction Gáldar and you will be easily there in 30 minutes. Meanwhile… enjoy the wonderful view of the cleanest ocean water, the best side of the island is this one!
If you are in the South, you will have two options: or take GC1 to Las Palmas, then GC2 to Gáldar (it will take more or less 1 hour); or take GC1 then GC200 direction Mogán, follow the road through the National Park Tamadaba and arrive in Agaete, then take GC2 to Gáldar. This second option sounds a lot better than a busy highway, BUT you also have to consider that it will take 2 hours of curved roads to do that, so I will personally save it for the moment to come back to the South, with no hurry. My tip is to take advantage of this situation, and drive the circle of ALL the island of Gran Canaria. Use the first option to arrive to Gáldar, and the second one (reading backwards!) to come back home. 😉 And yes, you can do all that in one day!
Now, let’s start… from Gáldar!
I decide to start from Gáldar because it’s an historical and important city of the island. And because it has a lot of style! 🙂 In the past it was the first capital of Gran Canaria and a disputed area between the Spanish and the aboriginal kings. It’s a very important cultural centre, founded by the Guanartemes that built the real palace into the Cave of Caballero Facaracas. After the years and the battles against Spanish and French conquers, where the king Artemi Semidan found his death, the Reign of Gran Canaria was split in two: Reign of Gáldar and Reign of Telde.
Then, in 1482-83 the Spanish presence became more strong: the original kings was jailed and the introduction of new catholic kings will change the life of the island forever.
Until these years, the history of Gáldar was practically the only history of the island, as this town and Telde were the main cities where all the politic, social, economic and religious lives of Gran Canaria were developed. The process of “hispanicization” wasn’t easy for this place: it started even before the conquer with the construction of catholic temples, but the presence of different traditions and cultures is strongly noticeable, even nowadays. A lot of child names, for example, especially the girls, are traditional names from the original populations. The centre of Gáldar maintain the characteristic and the class of a capital, the houses are artistic operas at open air, with their mix of baroque and neoclassic. Despite this, you don’t have to expect Gáldar as a big European city: it only has 20.000 citizen, so everything in the architecture as to be compared to this size. In 1981 the centre was declared “protected space” from the Spanish govern, with particular attention to the area of Square Santiago de los Caballeros.
The main church in Gáldar is in this same square and it’s called Iglesia Matriz, the first example in the island of neoclassic building. Of course there are more places than you can easily reach from the town (Puente de los Tres Ojos, Plaza Faycanes, Plazoleta Santa Lucia, the tree Drago Centenario planted in 1718!) but now I will concentrate the attention on another must-to-see place in Gáldar! 🙂
That’s the Painted Cave, it was declared artistic monument in 1972 and now offers the best opportunity for the public to see something real about the ancient population of the island, learning their habits and the same ambient where they lived. We have to thank a detailed work of research that goes on since three decades, in order to develop this museum and the whole historical knowledge to a step more, and more close to the fame that it deserve.
It’s a place discovered in the middle of 1800, but just recently became a museum, because the excavations made from 1987 revealed the presence of a whole village around the same cave. It used to be part of a town of more than fifty houses that is not easy to date: we’re talking about 6th to 16th century. Everything is maintained following the habits of the epoca, so the exhibition rooms include entire collections of archaeological findings.
Everyone of them is a fundamental piece of the story of Gran Canaria and it’s very important that they arrived until today because, as history teach us, the Spanish conquers are not the most respectful people concerning the maintaining of the original aboriginal cultures. 😉 The goal of the museum is make the visitors understand the kind of life in the pre-hispanic era, so there’s a huge 6000 meter squared archaeological park where you can walk through the houses and even observing all the detailed reconstructions.
The museum reopened in 2006 after more than 20 years of reconstruction, and despite the long time we have to say that the quality of the job done is excellent, the museum is a real diamond for the culture of Gran Canaria: the structure is impressive, the guides are the most prepared and helpful ever, the shop is tiny and absolutely not invasive. I believe that the great style of this museum was the reason why I started writing this article… But you can also jump on this part and leave it for the return: just organize your schedule according to the open hours of the museum! Here’s the link to the official page, it’s not necessary to buy the ticket online, even in the high season. –> www.cuevapintada.com
If you decided to watch the museum first, well the first challenge is to find a parking! The town hasn’t a lot of parking lots but you can try in the opposite side of the sport centre Polideportivo Juan Vega Mateos (on Google: 28.144432, -15.657674).
And after the links, here’s some photos to take a look! 🙂
Now, how to arrive to the Mount Amagro? Well, let me say first that you have to check the conditions. I don’t suggest you to remove the chains to pass on any private street, for example… 😉 But you can always have a good walk to a panoramic point, and leave the car for a while. Check out for the weather, too! Here the climate is tropical, we’re on the same latitude of Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda, Caraibi and Hawaii. It’s better to be ready in case of quick changes of clothes… So once said this, let’s take a look to the map!
The starting point is the red circle, where you see the Pegman: you can arrive there following GC202, it’s on the left if you’re on the direction of Puerto de Sardina… or on the right if you’re going to Gáldar. This cross, take the small street directed to the mountains, when you see this bus stop!
From there it’s pretty easy, you just have to follow the road and watch at the wind farms, until arrive to a cross… go right, then left to go to the Mount Amagro, or think about a pit stop! During that time you can walk to the hill (left on the map) and have a good view of Punta Sardina! Here you have the options, pay attention to turn right at the first cross, from the starting point. Once you are on the street to Amagro it’s all straight, until the dotted line. Mount Amagro is on the right side of the map.
If you’re enjoying the view of the first half of the road you will adore the second side. I hope that you had the chance to come here with a car, not so tired and armed with a good camera! 😀
The Mount Amagro it’s geographically located in the middle between Gáldar and Agaete, formed by basaltic series of rocks and a few of vegetation that survived after years of intense grazing. However, it’s interesting to note the presence of different paths where the vegetation is still uncontaminated, mixed and various. About the animals, there’s an important proximity with the Juncal Valley, where lives the albino owl. A part of the grazing activity, these mountains are also a recreative space (even for hunting, so don’t whistle too much!), an excellent landscape and a quiet corner of nature… something that will rest in your memories! Compliments! You’ve arrived up here so enjoy this view with your own eyes, it will be awesome! 🙂
Now I don’t want to be the one who ruins the party… but the title of this article was Circle Road so it’s time to go! 😉 I don’t know if you were walking all the time or if you managed to bring the car until there, I hope so… Anyway, I can suggest you to come back following the same road, then turn on GC202 direction Puerto de Sardina/North Beach Sardina. Leave Barranco de Juncal for later…
You can have a great lunch here at Sardina, it’s almost mandatory before going to Barranco Juncal! It’s very easy to park (and free!) thanks to the Cabildo that created this huge parking lots just up of the beach and the touristic zone. I know that I use to suggest to avoid the frequented areas, travel in the nature etc. but give a chance to this place… and you won’t regret. 🙂 You can park wherever you prefer, then walk and enjoy the beach and one of the cleanest waters of the island. This gold sand is precious, and it’s the most famous place on Gran Canaria for snorkeling and diving. Remember that it’s also a family place so you can find a little bit of crowd during the weekends.
Then nothing is better than a lovely walk on the waterfront, with its typical restaurants like Terraza El Ancla where you can have excellent meals for a very cheap price (fish, octopus and sea fruits as daily menu!). Going on and walking a little bit more you’ll get to a small dock with a partially-abandoned hotel. After this, my personal dream house… one of them. I fell in love in Artenara when I saw the red cave house for the first time, now it happened again with this white one. How can’t it be like this? Come on! As the other time, if you know the landlord… I want to buy the real White House! 😉
I believe that anybody can just stay there sit down for hours watching at the ocean, reading, playing guitar, or maybe exploring the rocks around… or fishing, swimming, preparing a barbecue, drinking beer… Let’s try to say something that you can’t do in this place! 🙂 Oh yes, get stressed…
When you’re ready we will move. But take your time, really.
Once you are on the road, take GC202 direction South/Barranco Juncal, the last stop before going back to Gáldar where the circle ends. Barranco Juncal was mostly known for the old Puerto del Juncal, an important port situated at the end of the valley. It had a great relevance in the past as today, because of its proximity with an ancient aboriginal town called Morro de las Moriscas. Here’s a PDF (spanish) for the ones of you that can’t stand the curiosity! 🙂 –> Morro de Moriscas (PDF)
The road GC202 is very safe and quiet to drive, you won’t have problems even with big cars. Just pay attention when you arrive at this point, where you have to turn right to Barranco Juncal: there are no signs.
If you follow the arrows it’s very simple… 🙂 The dotted one is the road to arrive to the valley, an impressive green place where the free nature and the farming find a way to reach an agreement, and give us a wonderful suggestion in the sunsets. You can walk down the whole street or do it with the car, but remember to come back before it gets dark, unless you decided to spend more days outside.
I’d like to write here also about the Playa of Juncal, and how to get there, but it will become too long. I’ll dedicate to the beach and the paths there another post… 😉
So the way back is very easy, now: from Barranco del Juncal just take the GC2 direction Gáldar, it will be all highway so you can relax and in 10-15 minutes you’ll have closed the Circle Road!
Instead, if you’re going to the south:
You always have to take GC2, but watch at the image to get the right direction…
From Barranco Juncal go to the right to take GC2 and stay on the right to turn back driving on the bridge. Then follow to go to Agaete, and from there to the South with GC200: you can imagine a wonderful road that pass through the Barranco of Guayedra, The Natural Park Tamadaba, the Valleys of Tasartico and Veneguera, Mogan… and it will get you until you desire.
Have a great and safe trip!