Famous Places to Go in Spain

La Gomera, one of Spain's Canary Islands, positioned in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa.

The island is of volcanic origin and roughly circular; it is about 22 km (14 mi) in diameter and rises to 1487 m (nearly 5000 feet) at the island's highest peak, Garajonay. Its shape is rather like an orange that has been cut in half and then split into segments, which has left deep ravines or barrancos between them. These barrancos, in turn, are covered by the laurisilva – or laurel rain forest.

The upper reaches of this densely wooded region are almost permanently shrouded in clouds and mist, and as a result are covered in lush and diverse vegetation: they form the protected environment of Spain's Garajonay National Park, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 The slopes are criss-crossed by paths that present varying levels of difficulty to visitors, and stunning views to seasoned hikers.

Playa de Alojera is the beach front serving the town of Alojera, located on the west of the island. It is a beautiful place of mystique and magic, where coincidence suddenly loses all meaning. It is a place for individuals, families or partners to learn their true being. Get in touch with their true soul without the pressures of the outside world interfering. It is a place where you will be very highly accepted and see the true side of people who care and make you feel warm and welcome. And greater than all this, it is where time stands still and the magic begins!

The local wine is distinct, and is often accompanied with a tapa (snack) of local cheese, roasted pork or goat meat. Other culinary specialties include almogrote, a cheese spread, and miel de palma, a syrup extracted from palm trees.

The inmates of La Gomera have a unique way of communicating across deep ravines by means of an amazing whistled speech called Silbo Gomero. This whistled language is indigenous to the island, and its existence has been documented since Roman times. Invented by the original inhabitants of the island, the Guanches, Silbo Gomero was adopted by the Spanish settlers in the 16th century and survived after the Guanches died out. When this unique means of communication was threatened with extinction at the dawn of the 21st century, the local government required all children to learn it in school.

In the mountains of La Gomera, its original inmates worshiped their god, which they called Orahan; the summit and center of the island served as their grand sanctuary. Indeed, many of the natives took refuge in this sacred territory in 1489, as they faced imminent defeat at the hands of the Spaniards, and it was here that the request of La Gomera was drawn to a close. Modern-day archaeologists have found several ceremonial stone constructions here, which appear to represent sacrificial altar stones, slate hollows or cavities. It was here that the Guanches built pyres up which to make offerings of goats and sheep to their god. This same god, Orahan, was known on La Palma as Abora and on Tenerife and Gran Canaria as Arocan. The Guanches also interred their dead in caves, which still dot the landscape.

Christopher Columbus made La Gomera his last port of call before crossing the Atlantic in 1492. He stopped here to replenish his crew's wine and water, intending to stay only four days. However, he became romantically involved with Beatriz de Bobadilla y Ossorio, the governor of La Gomera, and he ended up staying one month. When he finally sailed she saved him cuttings of sugarcane, which became the first to reach the New World. The house in San Sebastián in which he is reputed to have stayed is now a tourist attraction.

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Paul David Kirby

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