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El Atlante

August 22, 2012
Sculpture of El Atlante

Highway to hell

The GC1 is one ugly road. There’s no El Atlante for a start. Connecting Las Palmas with the southern resorts, it terminates at Puerto Rico. It’s the first thing you’ll see upon leaving the airport and whether you head north or south, you won’t discover much of beauty without turning off. So when my brother first visited us on the island, he asked: “Has there been a war here recently?”

Sculpture of El Atlante
Tony Gallardo’s El Atlante Sculpture

El Atlante: Sculpture by the sea

Far easier on the eye is the GC2, which links Las Palmas with Agaete. Travelling west along a motorway which hugs the beautifully-rugged north coast you’ll soon note El Atlante. Created by the Canarian sculptor Tony Gallardo, it dates back to 1986. Inspired by the myth of Atlantis which many believed survived with the Canary Islands being the uppermost peaks of this lost continent, Gallardo crafted a 9-metre-high female figure out of volcanic rock.

Tony Gallardo: The man behind the myth

Born in Las Palmas back in 1929, Gallardo’s first home was close to Las Canteras beach. This instilled a love of the ocean in him. He was thrown into jail by the Guardia Civil in 1968 for his part in a Spanish Community Party demo on Playa de Sardina del Norte. After being released from prison, Gallardo would later relocate to Madrid. Where he remained until his death, in the summer of 1996.

Atlantic fantastic

Slightly further along from El Atlante, you’ll find a restaurant with a view: El Mirador del Atlante. Sitting at a table on a terrace a mere 30 metres above the foaming-at-the-mouth Atlantic, feast on limpets (lapas) with mojo and steamed clams (almejas a vapor). Before returning to a road which never fails to charm its way into your heart.