Las Palmas Modernism

Art Nouveau also found its way to the Canary Islands. Unlike in Barcelona, Brussels and Vienna, it was not treated ideologically here, but simply as a decorative style. Canarian Modernism, in general, did not invent new spatial forms, did not use new constructive technologies and did not aim for the amalgamation of architecture and other art forms. It just borrowed stylistic features of different variants of European Art Nouveau and applied them on the façades of the buildings, often in an Eclectic context. 

In Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, Modernism is chiefly associated with the work of two architects: Laureano Arroyo Velasco and Fernando Navarro Navarro. Arroyo was a Catalan architect who served as the municipal architect of Las Palmas from 1888 until 1910. He designed hundreds of structures in the city, mostly in Eclectic style, although a many of his later works represent Modernism. Navarro was a Gran Canarian architect who succeeded Arroyo in the post of the municipal architect. He authored some of the most recognisable Modernist buildings in Las Palmas. 

Most examples of Modernist architecture in Las Palmas can be found in the Triana and Vegueta districts. Calle Mayor de Triana and its side streets provide the largest concentration of structures in that style. 

My portfolio includes 15 outstanding examples of Las Palmas Modernism. Some notable buildings are missing, including the house of Sebastián Suárez Tascón (Calle Constantino 13; Laureano Arroyo Velasco, 1909), the house of Juan Bosch Sintes (Calle Travieso 18 / Calle Cano 29; Pelayo López Martín-Romero, 1916-1918), and the house of Rafaela Rodríguez Quegles (Calle Malteses 20 / Calle Dr. Rafael González 3; Pelayo López Martín-Romero, 1916-1920). 

I took all the photos in late April 2022. 

You will find the locations of the mentioned buildings on the map below. 


1. Palace of Juan Rodríguez Quegles

Calle Escritor Benito Pérez Galdós 4, Triana
Mariano Belmás Estrada & Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1900-1901

This palace was built on a lot of land that had belonged to a monastery. It was constructed by lawyer and merchant Juan Rodríguez Quegles as a gift for his future wife. The work was assigned to Mariano Belmás Estrada, a well-known architect from Madrid, but was completed by Fernando Navarro Navarro. It is an eclectic building with a hint of Modernism. The winged lions that can be seen on the sides of the tower are said to be from the 1900 Paris Exposition. Decorative materials include Carrara marbles, hardwood from Cuba and Equatorial Guinea, stained glass from France, and tapestries from the Netherlands.



2. House of Ana Sigala Hernández

Calle Herrería 10 / Calle Pelota 18, Vegueta
Laureano Arroyo Velasco, 1899-1903

This building, designed by Laureano Arroyo Velasco, shows the influence of the works of Catalan Modernists like Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Its most notable features are the closed balconies made of wrought iron and glass. The cornice is adorned with stylised battlements, which explains the colloquial name of the building in Spanish (Casa de las Almenas). Among other materials used are Arucas stone, Italian marble, different types of wood, stained glass, etc.



3. House of Juan Negrín Cabrera

Calle Mayor de Triana 101, Triana
Laureano Arroyo Velasco or Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1902

This house, built for businessman Juan Negrín Cabrera, is one of the first Modernist buildings on the main street of Triana. The ground floor has openings with horseshoe arches and Art Nouveau pilasters, corbels and whiplash ornaments. The upper floors have more traditional windows with frames and pediments made of volcanic stone. 



4. Kiosks on Plaza Hurtado de Mendoza

Plaza Hurtado de Mendoza (Plaza de las Ranas), Triana
Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1902

The Hurtado de Mendoza Square, also known as the Frogs’ Square, is one of the most verdant public places in Las Palmas. Under the shade of the trees here, three old press kiosks can be admired. These are all domed structures with horseshoe arches and minor Modernist features. 



5. House of Juan García Déniz

Calle Obispo Codina 5 / Calle Juan de Quesada 1, Vegueta
Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1905

This building is located on the busy road separating the Triana and Vegueta neighbourhoods. Its façades show whiplash motifs around the doors and windows (different motifs on different storeys).





6. House of Vicente Lleó Benlliure

Calle Mayor de Triana 65 / Calle Arena 2, Triana
Laureano Arroyo Velasco & Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1905

This building was owned by Vicente Lleó Benlliure, a Valencian businessman who had founded the Janubio Salt Flats in Lanzarote in 1895. The ground floor of the building housed a pharmacy and a perfume shop and had elegant Modernist furniture and decoration. There were apartments on the three upper floors. 



7. House of Rafael González Hernández

Calle Dr. Rafael González 18-20 / Calle Torres 19, Triana
Mariano Estanga Arias-Girón, 1906-1907

This magnificent house is a work of Mariano Estanga Arias-Girón, a Valladolid-born architect who lived in Tenerife and designed many buildings there. The façade shows extravagant floral motifs combined with more sober features in the vein of Vienna Secession. 




8. House of Manuel Apolinario

Calle Mayor de Triana 76 / Calle Munguía 1, Triana
Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1907-1908

This is probably the most beautiful Modernist building on Calle Mayor de Triana. Its façade shows large openings surrounded by a rich decoration of floral and whiplash motifs and a balcony with an elaborate wrought-iron railing. The building has a reinforced concrete structure.







9. House of Bonaventura Escudé Martí

Calle Mayor de Triana 78, Triana
Laureano Arroyo Velasco, 1907-1908

The main features of this Moorish-Mudéjar-looking façade are the horseshoe arches of the windows, the tiled frieze with floral motifs between the first- and second-floor windows, and the  large three-dimensional arch reminiscent of muqarnas on the pediment. 



10. House of Agustín Melián Falcón

Calle Mayor de Triana 80, Triana
Laureano Arroyo Velasco, 1908

Various historical architectural styles have been reinterpreted on this Modernist façade, as shown by the arches above the doors and windows and the pinnacles on the cornice. 



11. House of Juan Negrín Cabrera

Calle Mayor de Triana 82, Triana
Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1907-1908

This is another Modernist building owned by Juan Negrín Cabrera on Calle Mayor de Triana. It looks similar to the house of Manuel Apolinario just some steps away: large windows, floral and whiplash ornaments in stucco, and wrought-iron railings. 



12. House of Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez

Calle Mayor de Triana 98, Triana
Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1908

This building was constructed in 1867 and renovated in 1908 in Modernist style, as shown by the motifs around the doors and windows. 




13. House of the Manrique de Lara sisters

Plaza Mayor de Santa Ana 5, Vegueta
Fernando Navarro Navarro, 1915

This building, located on the square in front of the Cathedral of Santa Ana, is considered to be Navarro’s masterpiece. The façade ornaments are more abstract and geometric here than in his previous works. The use of light glazed tiles and dark volcanic stone provides attractive chromatic contrast. 






14. Literary Cabinet

Plaza de Cairasco 1, Triana
Fernando Navarro Navarro & Rafael Massanet Faus, 1919-1920

The first theatre in the Canary Islands, the Cairasco Theatre, stood on this site since 1845. That building, however, had many deficiencies and lacked space, which is why the city of Las Palmas needed another theatre. The New Theatre (later renamed as the Tirso de Molina Theatre and now known as the Pérez Galdós Theatre) opened in 1890. 

The old theatre building was used by a cultural association known as the Literary Cabinet already in the 19th century. It was renovated multiple times. The latest round of renovations took place in the late 1910s, when the building got a new façade (designed by Fernando Navarro Navarro and Rafael Massanet Faus) and some new interiors (designed by Joaquín Prats). The most beautiful of the interior spaces, the Golden Salon, has paintings by Manuel González Méndez on the ceiling, depicting Apollo, Orpheus and Thalia. The predominant style is Eclecticism, with hints of Modernism here and there.  



15. Kiosk in San Telmo Park

Parque de San Telmo, Triana
Rafael Massanet Faus, 1923

This kiosk is one of the most emblematic structures of Las Palmas Modernism. It was designed by Rafael Massanet Faus, a Valencian architect who lived and worked in Gran Canaria for decades. It is an octagonal structure with a dome. The surfaces are decorated with colourful Manises tiles. These show fruit and floral motifs and also announce the products that the kiosk sold: coffee, refreshments, beer, and ice cream. Large awnings and stained-glass windows are other notable elements of the kiosk.