If you are planning a visit to Gran Canaria we would like to make sure you don’t miss out on some of the cultural richness of the island. When you picture Gran Canaria, the first things that come to mind are beaches and volcanos. But let us prove to you there’s plenty more than that. In fact, there are archaeological sites on the island that very few are aware of. Let us discover them together.
You don’t want to miss out on this archaeological site in Gran Canaria: Maipés de Agaete. And why is that? Let’s see, it’s an ancient burial site made by the former inhabitants of the island, the Canarian aborígenes, and it’s a great testament to their culture. It’s located on a striking patch of volcanic material more than one kilometre in length.
The volcanic flow, called maipés or malpaís, is home to a 700 tombs cemetery, which is more than 1300 years old. It consists of frustoconical burial mounds built on the rock, quite large in size. Inside those, a coffin shaped rock formation would be prepared to lay the deceased in.
Cueva Pintada (Painted cave) is one of the most important archaeological sites in Gran Canaria. Located in Gáldar, off of the northern coast of the island, both the town and local authorities are proud of their successful efforts to conserve, investigate and promote the site so visitors can admire it.
What can be seen at the site? An incredible mural depicting artistically and symbolically the interests of inhabitants from thousands of years ago. There is a centre of studies focusing on prehispanic Gran Canaria.
Furthermore, a recent discovery unearthed a settlement of over 50 housings and artificial caves, part of the old aboriginal capital of Agáldar.
Following the path down Barranco Hondo leads to the site of Risco Caído. Awarded World Heritage consideration by UNESCO, this archaeological site is home to a cave-dwelling, troglodyte settlement that has provided several palaeontological findings. There are in fact, about 21 caves excavated on the higher side of a steep cliff. The hundred-year-old abandoned village of Risco Maldito is also very near, making the whole area packed with interesting locations.
In regards to the caves, we will highlight two of them: Denominated C6 and C7 and located to the north, these caves are the oldest, and are home to some of the most important sanctuaries of all the canarian settlements. Striking engravings and bas-reliefs can be found inside. Goes by the name of Risco Caído, and for conservation purposes is currently closed to the public. A reproduction of it can be visited at the Interpretation Centre in Artenara.
Cenobio Valerón is a collective granary of sorts. Located at the top of the Gallego mountain, it was excavated into the cemented volcanic rock and sediment more than 800 years ago and with the help of stone tools. There are more than 350 holes dug for the storage of grain and other foods. This natural shelter was safe from prying eyes and hard to reach, making its use ideal.
The Fortress of Ansite is composed of three big rock formations: The Big, Small and Lower Fortress. Those were used by the indigenous people, building their homes, burial sites, etc. The oldest findings come from this area.
If you’d like to know more about aboriginal cave settlements in Gran Canaria, you can’t skip visiting this place. It remained inhabited for almost two thousand years. At Big Fortress there’s a pathway that goes up to the top of the mountain. A treacherous trail, but along the side, on your way up, you can find some rock engravings.
A visit to its Interpretation Centre is recommended, there you can observe the archaeological artefacts found in the site.
One of the largest in size and one of the most interesting. Cuatro Puertas (that’s four doors in english) is a cavern excavated by hand inside the volcanic scab. Situated 300 metres over sea level, it has a horizontal space inside with engravings and four entrances, all facing north. It is worth noting that due to works performed at more recent times, at the summer solstice the light is captured in through the openings.
Near the area there are other sacred sites where offerings and rites were performed.
Used as a stronghold by the aboriginals up until the 15th century when castilian troops arrived. At the site walls, caves, rock paintings and other inscriptions can be found. But it also stands out for its connection with interesting religious practices. You can discover many cultural, ethnographic and natural aspects and qualities inside its Interpretation Centre.
Two municipalities of the island, Ingenio and Agüimes share this site. It’s a place of union, harmony and balance between cultures. A beautiful location with over 70 indigenous species of plants, some only found locally, and more than 30 vertebrates.
It’s home to several prehispanic archaeological enclaves. All scattered along the ravine. Among them: burial sites, silos, housing, and even some rock paintings. It’s worth mentioning that some restaurants have opened up in the area, so you can taste the local gastronomy surrounded by the historical site.
The Caves of the King are some of the most important artificially made caves in the island. Well hidden, the entrance is not noticeable until you happen upon it. Inside, a large chamber with holes for small pots excavated on the floor. Two more rooms that were probably used as storage can be accessed as well. Someone relatively important could have lived there back in the day. It’s certainly worth a visit.
And lastly, the largest aboriginal cemetery on the island. Not just large in size, but in number: the substantial amount of burials that took place here, both individual and collective. Located on top of a bed of volcanic flow it’s also near to a centre of astronomical studies, which is not completely coincidental since the main burial mound is placed specifically as to be fully lit on the equinox.
As you can see, Gran Canaria is very rich in history, assets and cultural heritage. Come visit these archaeological sites and ruins that were so important in the times of old. You will learn about the aboriginals and their culture and you’ll visit spectacular places.
At Lopesan Group we would like to encourage you to explore the island and make your vacation an unforgettable experience. We are also in a privileged position as so to present to you a great and varied offer in leisure, entertainment and services in our hotels, all aimed at making your stay… a perfect stay. Don’t miss it!