Northeast of the island of Gran Canaria, 18,000 hectares concentrate a cultural landscape that is key to understanding the history of the island. He Risco Caído Cultural Site and Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria It is an archaeological site characterized by a rugged topography and vestiges of a native population, whose architectural and astronomical knowledge surprised experts.


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The pre-Hispanic culture of the Canary Islands stands out for its “troglodytism“, that is, the use of caves, specifically, the artificial cave. The Cultural Landscape of Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountain Spaces is a great field of observation of the constructions and buildings of troglodyte settlements such as homes, places of storage and sanctuaries. architectural capacity and its constructions are object of fascination, then They did not have metals or large tools to drill into the mountains.

Acusa Seca cave houses, in Gran Canaria, 11 km from the archaeological site of Risco Caído.
Acusa Seca cave houses, in Gran Canaria, 11 km from the archaeological site of Risco Caído.

The Risco Caído and Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria was declared World Heritage of UNESCO in 2019, ranking as monument number 48 of the 50 inscribed on the list. It was chosen under criteria III and V of this UNESCO distinction: for being a “exceptional testimony of a living or disappeared civilization” and for “an exceptional example of human settlement or its interaction with the environment.”

Former settlers

The current Canarian society is heir to Amazihg populations (Berbers) and the Spanish (since the Castilian conquest of the late 15th century. The date of the arrival of the continental Amazighs to the islands is not known exactly, but it is estimated that it was about 2,000 years ago and since their settlement, evolved in a native population.

According to the official website of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, one of the manifestations of the Canarian-Amazigh people are the sacred mountain spaces, where “the humanized space shakes hands with an idolized nature to relate perception and action, the ideal and the material, the sacred and the profane”. In this World Heritage site it is evident control of the environment of this island civilization.

Panorama of the mountains of the Risco Caído Cultural Site and Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria.
Panorama of the mountains of the Risco Caído Cultural Site and Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria.

light calendar

Perhaps the most striking thing about this place is the light calendar of the Cave 6 of the Risco Caído archaeological site. Known as the almogarén or Risco Caído sanctuary, it is artificial and has a light entrance whose flash is projected inside the camera coinciding with rock engravings.

The scientists concluded that it was an astronomical marker, a light calendar. The light runs longitudinally along the wall, which begins and returns to the point that indicates the spring equinox and the summer solstice (from March to September) and from September the sunlight no longer appears. It is a mystery how they built this kind of astronomical observatory with so few means.


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How to visit the Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria

Artenara town in Gran Canaria, where the Interpretation Center of the Risco Caído and Sacred Mountains Cultural Site is located.
Artenara town in Gran Canaria, where the Interpretation Center of the Risco Caído and Sacred Mountains Cultural Site is located.

He Risco Caído cannot be visited for conservation and security reasons. To learn about this cultural and historical jewel of Gran Canaria you can go to Risco Caído and the Sacred Mountains Interpretation Center from Gran Canaria. In this museum the visitor will be able to learn about the geographic space of the area, the ways of life of its inhabitants and contemplate a life size reproduction of cave 6. Admission is free, it is located in the town of Antenara and opens every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


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