Historic City-Centre of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Date of Submission: 27/04/2007
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture
State, Province or Region:
Canary Islands, Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, Spain
Coordinates: N28 5 59 W15 24 58
Ref.: 5134
Word File

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


Urban historical complex founded in 1478 including the Vegueta and Triana neighbourhoods constituting the Old Quarter of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

It was a maritime link at the beginning of the Atlantic civilisation process, especially for having been a stopover on three of the four trips made by Christopher Columbus in his discovery of the New World.

It was the first city founded by Spain in the Atlantic just a few years before the discovery of America. It was the political-administrative headquarters and the location of the first Spanish cathedral in the Atlantic.

It served as the point of transfer to America of such an important cultural item as sugar cane and its cultivation, propagating material of which was taken for the first time in 1493 by Christopher Columbus from Las Palmas to Santo Domingo, marking the commencement of the great Caribbean sugar industry, responsible for the development of an important economic and social structure in the Antilles.

It was the first city to have a Plaza Mayor (main square) at the beginning of the 16th century serving as the location of religious (Cathedral and Episcopal Palace) and administrative institutions and offices (Town Hall, Royal Court), precursor of all of the plazas mayores in Latin America. The Plaza Mayor of Las Palmas is an eminently representative example of an urban and institutional element illustrating a significant period in the history of Central and South American cities in the 16th and 17th centuries.

It served as the intermediary between Spain and America in respect of traditional architectural elements including lattice-work balconies.

Throughout its history, the Old-Quarter of Las Palmas has borne witness to an exchange of considerable cultural influence between the Atlantic and Latin American worlds in different spheres including history, urban planning and architecture given its status as a unique crossroads in the reception and transmission of these elements from Europe to America and for being the birthplace of a unique urban element such as the aforementioned Plaza Mayor de Santa Ana.


Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Conservation of an historical/architectural complex featuring representative examples, from the end of the 15th to the 20th century, of late Gothic, Plateresque, traditional Canary or colonial, neoclassic, modernist and rationalist styles, with a noteworthy level of authenticity in a great many of them.

Also, the conservation of a large degree of the original urban layout from the end of the 15th and first third of the 16th century. The historic city-centre of Las Palmas meets authenticity requirements as they apply to its conservation, construction and decorative materials and its surroundings, having conserved original building models, many of the buildings from the 16th to the 20th century remaining intact.

Comparison with other similar properties

The historic city-centre of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria features a unique set of peculiar characteristics, for in its Old-Quarter we find spontaneous medieval urban development existing side-by-side with new development in line with an urban planning scheme which would later be applied in America. It is also home to the aforementioned plaza mayor where, for the first time, political and religious authorities shared the same space in this special square which is the forerunner to Latin American plazas, a singular and exclusive aspect of this historical complex.

It is also characterised by colonial architecture (16th - 18th centuries) with its own distinct personality exclusive to this historic city-centre.

It is an Atlantic city serving as a point of arrival and departure for cultural values between the old and new worlds.

The history and current representation of the old town of Las Palmas is an exclusive model of an Atlantic city which is not comparable with other historical complexes already declared World Heritage sites.