Tejeda, Gran canaria
Tejeda is a small village in the centre of the island of Gran Canaria, and very close by you will see a rather sombre looking cross called "Cruz de Tejeda" which is thought to be the very centre of Gran Canaria. Tejeda has an altitude of over 1000 metres above sea level and the main activities in Tejeda are the cultivation of almonds and fruit. While you are in Tejeda you can of course lunch in the Parador hotel which is close by and stop off at some of the local Tejeda shops and purchase locally made marzipan or Bienmesabe, which means "tastes good to me" and is made from the locally grown almonds and locally produced honey.
The centre of the village of Tejeda is home to Nuestra Senora del Socorro (the church of Our Lady of Help) and two museums which both have exhibits demonstrating the farming culture and traditions of Tejeda. The museums are called, "The Museo de Tradiciones de Tejeda" (Tejeda Traditions Museum) and the "Museo de Tres Cruces" (Three crosses museum). Have a look at some of the other museums, that are available.
At Cruz de Tejeda which is a very popular tourist attraction you will find bustling bars and shops that sell souvenirs and other local specialities. Cruz de Tejeda even has a man selling donkey rides to children at the weekends. The actual stone cross at Cruz de Tejeda is at an altitude of 1580m above sea level and from here, the Parador hotel, and other viewpoints, you can see almost right across the island of Gran Canaria, and on a clear day you can see right across to Tenerife and the peak of mount Teide but if you like things nice and quiet don't visit Tejeda or Cruz de Tejeda at the weekends because this is a very popular spot for the locals and at the weekends it is very busy. While you are here in Tejeda take the time to just watch the light change as the sun goes down, and make sure sure you have your camera ready to take some truly stunning photos. Stay prepared as well. Remember, at Tejeda you are very high up and when the sun eventually gives way to the night it gets cold up there.
Walking holidays are obviously very popular in Gran Canaria because of the mountain walks but Tejeda also offers some more gentle walks. Some of the walks available from Tejeda are new, but most are the ancient "Caminos Reales" (Royal Walks) and these ancient tracks were used by the original Guanche people of Gran Canaria, to get around the centre of the island. Before the advent of roads as we know them today, these tracks were the only way for the guanche people to get around the interior of the island.
The village of Tejeda rests inside the volcanic crater of the same name and all around the crater you will find ancient archaeological remains such as Guanche graves,rock engravings, paintings and fascinating old caves. The land around the centre of the island is actually quite barren and while Tejeda may have in the past, had agricultural and horticultural traditions, as the population inevitably grew, it became increasingly impossible to live successfully off the land and the proceeds of farming. It seems, according to research, that about 50% of the population have already left their ancestral roots in the Tejeda village, and the only thing that has saved the village from complete desertion, is the increase in tourism to the island of Gran Canaria, and the level of tourism that the area of Tejeda itself attracts.
However in complete contrast to the modern attitude of opening up to tourists, the eighteen villages that make up the municipality of Tejeda have fought to recover and sustain their traditions and customs, and in so doing are preserving their heritage. The flip side to this, is simple, obvious, and yet totally in contrast to the desire to keep the villages of the municipality of Tejeda traditional. Because these other eighteen villages, and Tejeda are now so typically and traditionally Canarian, they have become an even greater tourist attraction. It is almost inconceivable that a person can visit Gran Canaria and not visit Tejeda and the other villages of this area.
If you happen to be on holiday over the 7th of February then make this a special date in your diary because it is the festival of the almond tree and everybody gets dressed up and joins in the festivities. Truly a special event, because the area of Tejeda is renowned for it's almond cultivation, and February just happens to be when all the trees are in bloom. A breathtaking event to be sure. Most of the other local fiestas are held between May and the end of summer and during this time you can see all the Tejeda villagers dressed up for the celebrations and looking at their best. For some real island culture, early February, is the perfect time to visit Gran Canaria and Tejeda.