Castillo de la Luz, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria's Castle of Light

The Castillo de la Luz (Castle of Light) is a La Isleta landmark. There are those who claim it should have been a shoo-in for my Top 10 sights to see in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In truth, it just missed out and it's worthy of a dedicated blog post of its own.

Castle Castile

Castillo de la Luz

The Castillo de la Luz, as you see it now, dates back to 1494. It was built on the foundations of a wooden fort constructed by Juan Rejon, the captain of the conquering Castilian invasion force in 1478. Originally, it was located on a reef that meant the waves of the Atlantic lapped it at high tide but the development of the Puerto de la Luz has put some distance between castle and ocean.

Entering the fortress

Castillo de la Luz

I'd previously only seen this castle from the outside whilst visiting the adjoining Parque del Castillo de la Luz, one of my Top 10 parks in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. So, it was a honour to receive an invitation to join a guided tour of what looks set to be an exciting addition to the capital's museums. Places were limited and we were shown around by a guide who offered a condensed history of the Castillo de la Luz in Spanish, as workmen put the finishing touches to the restoration project.

Project castle

Castillo de la Luz

The architects who won the job for the latest restoration, the last being back in 1969, were Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos. They opted to focus on maintaining the original 15th century tower and the outer walls whilst gutting the clutter of the interior. Yet you don't get the impression you're exploring a ruin as there is a new staircase and lift. And on the upper levels there's a glass floor, which the more hesitant members of our touring party were loath to cross before our guide convinced them that it would be able to take our combined weight.

Foreign invasion

Castillo de la Luz

Francis Drake, a  naval hero in the eyes of the English but fearsome pirate according to the Spanish, tried to take Las Palmas de Gran Canaria by storm in October 1595. However, he was repelled, with the Castillo de la Luz standing strong against Drake and his men. Although Dutch buccaneer Pieter van der Does was more successful with an attack four years later, causing the castle to go up in flames. However, the only invasion the castle faces these days is a tourist one.