On the coast, not far from Santa Cruz, is the bright, clean and cared for town of Güímar with its nice array of beaches, architecture, shops and churches that date back to the conquest of the island in the 15th century.
There is plenty to do in this area of undiscovered beauty however, aside from the appeal of a laid-back holiday spot the principle attraction of Güímar is its mysterious pyramids. These are in a park, set up by Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian explorer, of Kon Tiki fame. The park helps to demonstrate that pyramids with stepped sides and flat tops were built by the earliest civilisations on both sides of the Atlantic and that the same shapes appear repeatedly. Is this phenomenon a result of contact between ancient civilisations?
The first similarity between the Güímar pyramids and those in Egypt are they are on the edge of town, next to the supermarkets, schools and apartments and not in some open space or desert. The park is well signposted and there are a dozen or so parking spaces directly outside which will probably all taken, but if you continue a few metres down the road there is a large free car park opposite the school.
For €7.60 you get an information pack in English that includes a map.
There are wide pathways that lead through the gardens and around the six pyramids, smaller and nowhere near as grand as those in Egypt. They were originally thought to have been made by farmers clearing the land of rocks and rubble. Similar structures, known as “Morras” were found in many locations on the island; however, over time these have been dismantled and used as cheap building materials. Heyerdahl, established that the rocks had not come from the surrounding area but from the lava fields and the ‘heap of rocks’ were in fact pyramids similar to those constructed by the Mayans and Aztecs in Central and South America. The recurrence of man-made pyramids and other structures such as ziggurats and temples is spread across the globe, from the Americas to the Middle East from Africa to the Pacific and although their purpose may vary, the construction is a common and widespread characteristic of past civilisations.
The recurrence of man-made pyramids and other structures such as ziggurats and temples is spread across the globe, from the Americas to the Middle East from Africa to the Pacific and although their purpose may vary, the construction is a common and widespread characteristic of past civilisations.
Beneath one of the pyramids, a group of archaeologists found Guanche artefacts in an underground chamber. It is thought that the native Guanches hid here when the Spaniards came. I had been told the pyramids were not particularly stunning to look at but I found them fascinating. I found it particularly intriguing that from the way they are positioned they may have special astronomical significance. All the pyramids have stairs on their western side that face the direction of the rising sun. From the platform of the largest pyramid, a double sunset can be seen on 21st June, the Summer Solstice, when the sun sinks behind the mountain, then emerges again behind the next mountain before setting a second time.
In order to show possible connections between ancient civilisations it is worth bearing in mind that the current of the Atlantic Ocean flows westward from the Canaries; it is the same route taken by Columbus in his voyages. To prove this, Heyerdahl sailed from Morocco to Barbados, in the Ra2. The Ra2, made from reeds, is the only full-size boat on display although at the time of our visit we could not see it as workmen were doing things with piles of rocks!!
There is a modern auditorium built underground and equipped with the latest technology that allows the viewer to watch a short film in their own language. The film fills in the history of the pyramids and lasts about 20 minutes. There is also a photo gallery and models of Heyerdahl’s other boats in the auditorium.
In addition, the museum extensively covers Heyerdahl’s theories, the voyages. There is a lot of information on these mysterious ancient buildings along with scale models of canoes made from reeds and images and sculptures found in South America depicting pale skinned men with beards unusual as the native Indians are dark with hairless bodies.
There is no definitive proof but many of the pyramids are located in islands implying there was contact between the inhabitants. How did it occur – is it possible that at one point the Canaries were used as a stopover point on an ancient shipping route, after my visit to Güímar I certainly wouldn´t dismiss this theory lightly.
You need about 2 hours in the park to do it justice. On your next visit to Tenerife, I would recommend you find time to pay a visit to the mysterious pyramids at Güímar.