Our route begins in the highest part of Gran Canaria, at Pozo de Las Nieves de Los Canónigos, an ancient well. From that point, it descends through the northern side of the island heading to San Mateo Valley. This route has two characteristics that bring its important ethnographic value: on one hand, there are many aquifers and places from which to extract water for the villages on the island; on the other hand, the path goes through one of the most important wine production places in Gran Canaria.
POZOS DE LAS NIEVES PEAK
At a height of 1949 meters it is the highest location on the island. There is a chance to visit two of the three snow wells, built in the late XVIIIth century in order to store the snow that was later transported on animals to the ice storage of Las Palmas Cathedral and to Saint Martin’s Hospital for medical and beauty purposes. It is believed that later on, the snow was also used for ice cream and sorbet production. Up in the mountains, the tasks were carried out by the so called neveros, ice workers, who were both the people who came sporadically to the snow wells to recollect and compact the snow, the muleteers who took the load down to the Cathedral and also the man in charge to sell it at the nevería, the ice store. Many of these men came from the village of San Mateo Valley, Camaretas and Hoya del Gamonal.
FROM THE HILLS TO THE SOUTHEASTERN VILLAGES
Until the middle of the XIXth century, when the first roads in inner Gran Canaria were built, its inhabitants were connected by the wide web of Royal Roads that had firstly been created by the canarian aborigines. After the spanish conquest, the new settlements occupied the most fertile and appropriate areas to exploit the canarian forest and its water richness. Many of the narrow paths were then turned into wide cobbled, strengthened ways, which allowed people and cattle access for centuries and became a trade and pilgrimage route. This path was walked both ways on the same day to join the towns of Tejeda, San Mateo, Valsequillo or Teror with the Tirajana villages for economic, religious or social reasons. A considerable amount of traffic took this route and it earned a big name among the paths in its days.
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