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Seven wonders that make a visit to Spain’s La Gomera worth it

This lesser-known Canary Island may not be easy to reach but it rewards visitors with a feast of scenic and peaceful beauty that’s hard to come by in busy Spain.

Seven wonders that make a visit to Spain's La Gomera worth it
A sea of cloud builds around Roque Agando, with Tenerife's majestic Mount Teide in the background. Photo: Jörg Bergmann/Flickr

With a population of just 20,000 people and a landmass of only 114 square kilometres, the second smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands rarely makes it into Spanish newspapers or into tourists’ itineraries. 

There are in fact no direct flights to the island from any other part of Spain or Europe except for its bigger and busier brothers Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

All this has fortunately served to maintain La Gomera’s charm and splendour, ensuring it remains a hidden treasure for hikers, nature lovers and peace-seekers.

Photo: Nasa/Wikimedia Commons

La Gomera is after all a rugged natural paradise steeped in organ-shaped cliffs, sweeping ravines and dense greenery (forests cover a third of the island).

If you’re still not convinced, these seven wonders in La Gomera may literally send you packing. 

Garajonay National Park

La Gomera’s National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is packed full of laurel forests, with trails for both hikers and cyclists. A must. 

Photo: Guillaume Baviere/Flickr

Los Órganos

La Gomera’s imposing cliffscape has this church organ-shaped rock formation as its masterpiece. Catch the boat from Valle Gran Rey to reach this natural sculpture.

Photo: Wikimedia

Vallehermoso

As its Spanish name suggests, this is a truly beautiful valley and village in which to stay in La Gomera, especially if you want to sleep over in a more rustic setting than the sleepy capital San Sebastían. Not too far is Hermigua, an equally picturesque village. 

Photo: Jörg Bergmann/Flickr

Castillo del Mar

This former banana loading station in Vallehermoso has a Game of Thrones aura to it, a medieval-like castle surrounded by the Atlantic blue and dramatic cliffs.

Photo: Castillo del Mar/Deposit Photos

Photo: Jörg Bergmann/Flickr

 

Roque Agando

Deep in the forests of La Gomera’s interior lies this majestic rock formation. A sea of cloud often builds around Roque Agando, with majestic Mount Teide in next-door Tenerife adding the finishing touch to a spectacular view. Rock climbers welcome.

Photo: Ingo Ronner/Flickr

Photo: Jörg Bergmann/Flickr

 

Valle Gran Rey 

This steep, green gorge offers scenic views all the way down to La Gomera’s longest beach.

Photos: Jörg Bergmann/Flickr

Mirador del Santo 

Head to this lookout point in the quaint mountain village of Taguluche at sunset to catch a view that sums up why La Gomera is so special.

Photo: Jörg Bergmann/Flickr

 

 

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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