The first


of the Canary Islands

The original Canary Islanders were several peoples of Berber origin who inhabited the Canary Islands until they were conquered by the Kingdom of Castile between 1402 and 1496. Although all these tribes had shared roots, each island had its own laws and customs, which often led to confrontations between the settlements. It is calculated that the earliest settlers must have arrived on the islands in around the 5th century BC, so for almost 2000 years the aborigines lived isolated in the archipelago, creating their own distinctive culture and way of life adapted to a wild and volcanic environment.


La Palma

or Auarites

El Hierro




La Gomera


Gran Canaria


and Lanzarote


The Canarian aborigines were the only native people that inhabited the region of Macaronesia. Most of them lived in caves, although in Lanzarote and Gran Canaria emains of settlements have been found with an economy based on hunting and livestock farming, or in exceptional cases, agriculture. Native animals like goats and sheep played a key role in their subsistence, as in addition to cheese, butter and meat, they provided skins for clothing and bones for making tools.Los Guanches are an example of development in an extreme habitat, and thanks to the considerable legacy and archaeological record they have left behind them throughout their history, we have a very good idea of their heritage today.

An example
of agricultural

The archaeological park of Cenobio Valerón comprises a vast collective granary which the original Gran Canarians used to store cereal. The site has over 300 silos carved out of the soft rock and interconnected with each other on several levels. They can be visited without a guide, so you can explore this work of prehistoric engineering at your own pace and you immerse yourself in the island's cultural heritage. If you prefer, you can also hire a guide who will explain all the secrets of this construction.
See Cenobio Valerón>


The Cueva Pintada cave is one of the most important archaeological sites on the islands. The site comprises a small village that surrounds a cavern excavated out of the rock. To get there you first take a walkway across the ruins of the ancient settlement, where you can see how the old houses were arranged and laid out. Once inside the cave you'll be amazed at the geometric motifs that decorate its walls, a fine example of the artistic representations of the period, which you can see from very close up thanks to the glass dome protecting the whole vault.
See Cueva Pintada>


As in the case of other civilisations, the Guanches also practised the burial rite of mummification. Several studies have shown that their technique and degree of perfection attained levels comparable with those of other cultures such as the Egyptian. And although this ritual was only a custom among the aborigines of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, today these mummies are considered the most important remnant of the Guanche culture.

Para verlas de cerca, puedes hacer una visita al Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre de Tenerife (Museo Arqueológico) donde encontrarás más de 140 restos embalsamados y 12 momias completas. Entre ellas, las más antiguas de las islas con más de 17 siglos de antigüedad.

See Tenerife Archaeology Museum >

A culture
present today

Although the aboriginal presence in the islands gradually dwindled after the Castilian conquests in the 15th century, the various works of research and today's cultural awareness have contributed to ensuring the Guanche culture is present on all the islands. You'll find the Belmaco cave in La Palma, El Julan in El Hierro, the Gomera Archaeology Museum and the Canarian Museum in Gran Canaria all have an extensive legacy that will offer an insight into the Canary Islands' past.