Secrets of the Canary Island Pyramids

Canary Islands are famous as a perfect holiday destination, but many tourists visit the islands without knowing that there are a few strange pyramid-structures that hold a number of intriguing mysteries from the ancient times. Who built the pyramids? when they were constructed? and why they were built? ― These are the questions that never got convincing answers. But there are three interesting theories and an ongoing heated debate.

the Canary Island Pyramids
the Canary Island Pyramids © Dorian Martelange

The mystery of the Canary Islands pyramids first came to light by famous explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, who never able to solve its puzzle. Russian adventurer and scientist, Victor Melnikov, also tried his best to solve the mystery and he stumbled upon many other mysteries that the islands boast in its soil.

Double sunset

Double sunset
© Reddit

The complex of pyramids, with a ladder-like form, is located southeast on the island of Tenerife, in the city of Güímar, and it is spread out over 64 000 square meters. Official information is that the pyramids were built around 5,000-7,000 years ago, around the same time as the ones in Egypt, Mexico, and Peru which are very similar to each other.

On the other hand, some scientists claim that the pyramids were built by local farmers in the second part of the 19th century. They stacked stones, discovered from plowing lands beyond their own. Elders say that similar structures were once all over Tenerife, but they were looted and the materials were used for construction projects.

But the pyramids are located in a place where there was no farming. The way they are built and their location make it seem as though they were used for rituals, or astronomical reasons, or both.

Portrait of Thor Heyerdahl, as a grown-up explorer.
Portrait of Thor Heyerdahl, as a grown-up explorer © NASA

Norwegian adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl, explored the pyramids during the 1990s. He lived in Tenerife for 7 years and claimed that the pyramids of Güímar were more than just piles of debris. And here are his arguments. The stones used for the construction of the pyramids were processed. The ground beneath them was levelled, and the stones were not gathered from the field, but they were pieces of frozen volcanic lava.

the Canary Island Pyramids
© Dorian Martelange

It was Heyerdahl who noticed the astronomical alignment of the Güímar pyramids. If you were to go at the very top of the tallest pyramid during the Summer Solstice, you would observe an interesting phenomenon ― a double sunset. At first, the light would drop behind the mountain, and then it would raise and set again. Besides that, all the pyramids have a ladder on their western side, and during the Winter Solstice, they are exactly where they should be if you were to observe the sunrise.

the Canary Island Pyramids
The Canary Island Pyramids © Dorian Martelange

Heyerdahl was never able to determine how old the pyramids were or who built them. But he determined one thing for sure ― a cave located underneath one of the pyramids was once inhabited by Guanches, who were native people on the Canary Islands.  The Guanches are as much of a mystery as the archipelago of pyramids. They are considered the main mystery of the island since no one has ever figured out where they came from.

Descendants of the Atlanteans

The Guanches
The Guanches were a mystery because it had never been established how these white-skinned and fair-haired people came to be living on islands close to North Africa © Curiosm

According to the works of ancient Roman writer, Pliny the Elder, the Canary Islands were uninhabited during the 7th-6th centuries BC, but there were ruins of large structures that were discovered in the area. Citizens of the archipelago (called “abode of the blessed”) were mentioned in some ancient Greek legends.

That is when a theory came to life: Were the Guanches descendants of the few Atlanteans, who survived after the mythical disaster?

Even though the Guanches culture is almost entirely lost, and they haven’t “flourished” among European civilizations, modern-day citizens of the Canary Islands believe that the blood of the aborigines still flows through their veins. They claim that if you run into a tall, dark-haired person with blue eyes, there is no doubt – there is a true Guanches native standing in front of you.

Spaniards who arrived on the Canary Islands during the 14th century saw the Guanches exactly as described above. According to their reports, the island was inhabited by tall, light-skinned, light-haired, and blue-eyed people. Their average height was above 180 centimeters, but there were “giants” who were more than 2 meters tall.  However, such an anthropological type of human was not typical for these geographical latitudes.

The language of the Guanches was the most intriguing aspect for the Europeans. They could communicate with each other without making a sound, only moving their lips. And they were able to send signals to each other only by whistling, sometimes even from a distance of 15 kilometers. The whistling is used to this day by the citizens of the island of La Gomera. Kids in school also learn it as their traditional language.

And here is the interesting part. The Norseman, Jean de Béthencourt ― conqueror of the Canary Islands, wrote in his diary:

“La Gomera is the homeland of tall people. They speak only with their lips, as if they have no tongue.”

When astounded Europeans determined the reason for the extravagant type of communication, they explained: “Their ancestors really did lose their tongues as some sort of punishment, but they do not remember what the punishment was exactly. Of course, the Guanches who met the Europeans had their tongues, and conventional speech was completely developed, but, by habit, they continued to communicate by whistling.”

And finally, the main question. The Europeans did not find anything resembling a naval fleet in possession of the Gaunches, but rather what seemed like primitive barges. It is almost a 100 kilometer distance to the nearby coast (North Africa), and it is difficult getting there because of sea currents. The passage from Europe is much easier, but it is 1200 kilometers longer.

So, really, where did the Guanches come from?