Surrounded by picturesque mountains and valleys, the town of Arucas stands at the foot of la Montana de Arucas in Gran Canaria. Gran Canaria historically was divided into 10 "kingdoms", with Arucas being one of them. Arucas is the third largest town in Gran Canaria and one of the municipalities of the island. The town is located within a 15-minute drive from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It is surrounded by banana plantations and has a beautiful old town. So check out this article to learn about the best things to see and do in the town of Arucas.
1. San Juan Bautista Church
This church is one of the icons of Gran Canaria, though the locals usually call it the Arucas Cathedral. The church is very imposing and stands proud over the town. The construction of the neo-Gothic church started in 1909 and was completed officially almost 70 years later in 1977. The locals say it was built by hand and is entirely made from the grey-blue volcanic stone of Arucas. If you are interested in visiting it, you can do it every day from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Note that there is no sign about opening times on the church door.
2. Old town of Arucas
The picturesque old quarter of the municipality capital dates back to the end of the 15th century. It is full of cafés and small shops. Notice how the village buildings present the famous grey-blue stone of Arucas in great detail. Since the town is small, sooner or later, you will reach the main square, where you will find Town Hall and Municipal Market which are also noteworthy.These two buildings are excellent examples of 19th-century Canarian colonial architecture.
3. Arucas Park
Next to the Town Hall, you will find a city park. At Christmas, trees and plants in the park have lovely Christmas decorations. The Municipal Museum of Arucas is also situated in the park.
4. The Municipal Museum of Arucas
Considered one of the most emblematic buildings of the town, the Municipal Museum of Arucas is located in the former house of the Majorat of Arucas. It was built at the beginning of the 19th century. Its extensive collection exhibits the works of Canarian painters and sculptors.
Open: Monday to Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
5. Arehucas rum factory
One of the best things to do in Arucas is to visit the Arehucas rum factory. It produces one of the best-known rums in the Canary Islands. The origins of this factory go back to 1883 when the factory for sugar cane processing was founded. It was forced to close down in 1920. The factory reopened in 1965 under the name of "Destilerias Arehucas, S.A.", and currently produces rum and spirit drinks.
Among other lovely plants, notice a dragon tree on your way to the distillery entrance. The tree grows in the wild in the Canary Islands and western Morocco. Its scientific name is Dracaena draco and it can reach a maximum height of 18 metres. The tree grows very slowly; it can take about ten years to reach a metre in height. It also starts to branch only around 15 years of age, beginning to do so after flowering for the first time.
When entering the bodega where the ageing of the rum takes place, you will be overwhelmed by the rich aroma of wood, history and spirit from more than 5000 American oak barrels. Nearly three hundred of them are signed by prominent cultural, sporting and political figures, including footballer Johan Cruyff, singer Tom Jones, tenors Plácido Domingo and Alfredo Kraus, soprano singer Montserrat Caballé, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Willy Brandt.
The tour also includes a visit to the bottling lines capable of filling 12,000 and 20,000 bottles per hour, respectively. The tasting room is the perfect end of a visit where all the products made by Destilerias Arehucas can be tasted and later purchased in the shop.
Open for visitors: Monday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Guided tours in English available.
6. Jardin de la Marquesa
Located at the foot of the mountain of Arucas, the Jardin de la Marquesa is about a 15-minute walk from the Arucas town centre. It houses a small palace built in 1880 by the first Marquis of Arucas. The palace garden was designed around 1880 when the Marquis started to collect local and foreign plant species. The next generations enlarged his collection and the garden grew. At the end of the 20th century, the garden covering five hectares opened its doors to the general public. Nowadays, the garden boasts a great diversity of plants and trees, including many palm trees. At present, the Jardin de la Marquesa has about 500 classified species that co-exist with a colony of free-roaming peacocks. An elegant glass marquee located on the old family’s tennis court is an ideal place to hold banquets. It can accommodate up to 400 guests.
7. La Montana de Arucas
La Montana de Arucas is a former volcano that dominates the Arucas landscape. The 412-metre-high mountain is worth visiting for the spectacular views. From the top, you can see most of the island’s northern coastline, along with a birds-eye view of Las Palmas and, to the south, the mountains that mark the centre of the island. I promise I will climb it on my next visit to Gran Canarias.
If you can visit just one town in northern Gran Canarias, choose Arucas because of the diverse and impressive experience you can get there. Since the law of Spain does not allow places to be named after alcoholic drinks, note that the name of the distillery and rum is Arehucas instead of Arucas. When planning your visit, check the opening hours of the distillery and church to avoid disappointment. The distillery is closed on Public holidays in Spain and they might differ from those in your country.
Consider visiting Firgas and Arucas in one day. Don’t be in a hurry like me and climb Arucas Mountain. If you use public transport from Las Palmas, go to Firgas first because buses do not go there frequently, you will then have more flexibility in planning the rest of your day. The only bus that goes directly from San Telmo station to Firgas just every two hours is No. 204, so you might want to start your day in the early morning. From Firgas, catch No. 211 or 251 for a 20-minute ride to the Arucas bus station. To return to Las Palmas, hop on the 205, 206, 210, or 234 bus. The ride will take 30 to 40 minutes.
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Author: Anita Sane
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