Fortaleza de Ansite

The Fortaleza de Ansite (Ansite Fortress) is a natural geological rarity home to vestiges of the indigenous aboriginal culture of old Gran Canaria. This stunning basaltic formation consists of a vertical outcrop divided into three large rock structures. They are named Fortaleza Grande, Fortaleza Chica and Fortaleza de Abajo or Titana.

From its vantage point, overlooking the Tirajana ravine, one can easily conjure up visions of the old times when the aboriginals, protected by the elevated terrain, settled the area and made their home inside the many caves in the area. This little wonder of nature was once a dwelling of the former inhabitants of the island.


Where is Fortaleza de Ansite located?

It is located in the Santa Lucía de Tirajana municipality. It’s a small town near the centre of the island of Gran Canaria, 50 kilometres from the capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It’ll take you no more than one hour to get there from Las Palmas. But just around 30 minutes if you are staying in the south of the island. You must get to Santa Lucía via the GC 550 road and just before arriving, take the detour left towards Vecindario via GC 65. There are plenty of road signs pointing you to La Fortaleza – La Sorrueda, you just have to follow those.


History of Fortaleza de Ansite

The Ansite Fortress is home to a very important archaeological site. Consisting of a group of natural caves that were settled by the aboriginals of the Canary Islands until its conquest by the Kingdom of Castille in 1483. These caves served as dwellings, store areas and burial sites; and a large number of ceramic artefacts, pottery, cave paintings and tombs have been unearthed here.

Recent findings set the date of first settlement further back in time, to more than 2000 years into the past.

Due to the archaeological richness of the site it has been deemed a Cultural Heritage Asset by the Canary Islands Government, the highest level of official protection that can be awarded.


Visiting Fortaleza de Ansite

The first rock formation you find at Ansite is Fortaleza Grande. This fortress is pierced by a tunnel connecting the terrace, where the parking lot is located, to the steep area where the caves are.

Once you’ve crossed you will see the Tirajana ravine down at your feet, that view alone explains the reasons why the aboriginals chose this practically unassailable location. It’s fitting that Ansite was the aboriginals last bastion of resistance against the Castilian troops.

Now you can turn left and leave the outcrop behind. You will find the caves, which are layered at different heights, although some are more accessible than others, and afterwards, Fortaleza Chica.

What is believed to be a ceremonial and astronomical observation area can be found at the very top. You should be mindful that access can be quite tricky, especially for children.

The panoramic vistas on Fortaleza Grande and the ravine from Fortaleza Chica are exceptional, and make the visit already worthy.

Fortaleza de Ansite can be visited every day of the week except Mondays. And let’s not forget to mention there’s a guided tour available.


Fortaleza de Ansite Routes

There are several hiking and biking routes and trails available for you to visit the Fortress. Let’s mention a few of them:

  • Circular route from La Sorrueda Dam. Start circling around the dam before heading towards Ingenio de Arriba, and then Santa Lucía de Tirajana. From there a descent to Ansite and finish arriving at La Sorrueda Dam where you started.
  • Circular route from Santa Lucía de Tirajana. This route starts at the town centre of Santa Lucía and heads through Llano de la Piedra towards the cemetery. Then across La Sorrueda (not the dam, but an actual neighbourhood) and the road to Fortaleza Grande. After making your way to the top, the route takes you through a cave to the other side of the mountain where you skirt the sides of Fortaleza Chica. Then, a trail parallel to the road takes you back to Llano de la Piedra and the centre of Santa Lucía.

La Fortaleza de Ansite en Sorrueda


The Legend of Ansite

Ansite became the stronghold and the symbol for the aboriginal resistance and their struggle against the conquest of the island by Castilian forces. The legend takes us back in time to the early months of the year 1483.

At the time, Tenesor Semidán was the Guanarteme, the ruler of Gáldar. After several years of confrontation against the Castilian attacker he was finally captured and sent to mainland Spain to be received by the Catholic Monarchs and baptised as Fernando Guanarteme.

Later that same year he sailed back to Gran Canaria. By then, pockets of rebels commanded by Bentejui, Guanarteme of Telde, sought refuge in the mountains to continue their fight. On April 23rd 1483 he met Bentejui, Princess Guayarmina and the Faycan of Telde, Tazadre (an advisor and shaman).

Guayarmina surrendered and left Ansite with the rebels, while Bentejui and Tazadre refused to yield and chose instead to jump off the top of a cliff to the sound of Atis Tirma, a cry that meant “for my land”.

This event marked the end of the resistance against the Castilians. The Catholic Monarchs granted Fernando Guanarteme the right to live in Gáldar with 40 of his followers. However, by 1490 the group had grown in number and was forcefully dispersed.

Fernando Guanarteme would prove useful again in the conquest of the islands of La Palma and Tenerife. He thus became a tainted figure, a target of animosity. Seen as a traitor to the aboriginals by some, a peaceful intermediary in the inevitable European conquest of the archipelago by others.

As you can see, this particular enclave is of paramount importance in the history of the Canary Islands, one of many you can visit while in Gran Canaria. The fascinating story and stunning geological formation of Fortaleza de Ansite, paired with its rich flora and fauna well deserve a visit. 

If you are unsure of where to stay, just remember: there’s always a Lopesan Hotel available for you. Ready to fulfil your wishes and offer you a dream stay, a unique experience for your Canarian visit. So you can enjoy the cultural and gastronomical richness and the stunning landscapes and vistas of Gran Canaria. 


Lopesan Gran Canaria Inglés

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