The Early History of Gran Canaria

Early Canarians from Gran Canaria, from the time of the Roman Empire were called the ‘Canarii’ and those from Tenerife were called ‘Guanches’. Each island had its own rulers, and in Gran Canaria, which they called Tamaran kings were known as Guanarteme.

When Spanish troops came to conquer Gran Canaria in 1478 they arrived on the north and named the place ‘El Real de Las Palmas’ simply for the abundance of palm trees found in the area of Guiniguada. It took the Spaniards five long years of bitter struggle to conquer the island as the Canarii had no plans to let them take it without a fight to the death.

In 1481, the commander of the Spanish army captured the Guanarteme of Galdar, Tenesor Semidán, who he sent to the court of Castille to be converted to Christianity and renamed Fernando Guanarteme. There is a street named after this deposed king, running parallel to the world famous Playa de Las Canteras, which starts near the Las Arenas shopping centre in the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Knowing a little about the curious history of this place may help to give insight into why Canarians are the way hey are today. They have their own ways and words, many of which can be found by clicking here and looking at our ‘Canarian Words / Expressions Of The Day’ as well as much more content. Gaining a little understanding, for instance, as to why locals here speak with an accent containing many similar elements to those in Latin America may well strengthen your connection to Gran Canaria, making you feel a little more part of it helping you connect more closely with our unique peoples. Few things demonstrate our distinct character than the well over 3000 words that are uniquely Canarian, used in everyday life to describe everyday experiences in the Canarian manner.

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