La Casa De Colon, Vegueta
08 July 2008 | Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
While Richard diligently worked on repairing the engine over the course of five days in Las Palmas, I diligently took it upon myself to become "Cultural Scout," and scoped out the various neighborhoods, monuments and points of interest around the city. I was elated to discover Vegueta, the charming historic district of Las Palmas. Ancient buildings dating back to the 15th century, narrow, winding cobblestone streets, plazas, fountains, umbrella cafes strewn about every corner, and flowers bursting with color everywhere. The centerpiece of Vegueta is La Catedral de Santa Ana, an ancient cathedral with a Gothic interior but Neoclassical facade. Adjacent to the Cathedral is La Casa de Colon (The House of Christopher Columbus). Built in a classic "Canarian" style, it features an exotic and very intriguing mix of Spanish colonial, Gothic and Arabic influences. The prettiest features on the exterior were the graceful, Arabic wooden balconies of delicately carved lattice work. Combining these with the heavy stone carvings of Gothic gargoyles surrounding the doors made for a striking juxtaposition.
The prettiest features in the interior of the building were the gorgeous and intricately detailed ship models of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Why were they there? La Casa de Colon has historically been the governor's home of the city of Las Palmas, and in 1492, when Christopher Columbus was sailing in search of India, the rudder of the ship Pinta broke and became unhung. Rendering the ship disabled, the crew was able, however, to secure the rudder temporarily with cords until they reached the Canary Islands, namely Gran Canaria. According to Gran Canarian history, Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) attended the home of the governor to pay his respects and gain official permission to dock the Pinta for repair, before continuing his mission. Columbus's auspicious stop in Gran Canaria gave the governor's home its present name, and is source of much pride to the citizens of Las Palmas. Interestingly, if you read the guide books, La Gomera claims to be the island where Columbus repaired the Pinta...while El Hierro insists that it was the one where he stopped. It seems that Columbus honored all of the islands of the Canaries by repairing a little bit of his rudder on each island. Well, sharing is caring, as they say, and perhaps the spirit of Christopher Columbus will be comforted to know that Richard and I would eventually (fatefully?)have a sympathy rudder adventure of our own in the Canaries. To be continued.... ;)