Risco Caído and the sacred mountains of Gran Canaria are a World Heritage Site, a recognition that makes us happy and that encourages us to know a little more about these treasures.
The decision was taken at the 43rd World Heritage Committee that Unesco holds in Azerbaijan with delegations from 195 countries. With this declaration is attached to Risco Caído and the sacred mountains of Gran Canaria to the category of “cultural landscape”.
As defined by Unesco, it is a joint work of humanity and nature that, in this case, covers 18,000 hectares sheltered by the Caldera de Tejeda and goes back to the aboriginal culture.
The aboriginal societies that inhabited Gran Canaria for about 1500 years before the arrival of the Europeans were made up of Berbers or Amaziges of North African origin:
Located in a vast mountainous area of the centre of the island of Gran Canaria, the site of the Risco Caído is characterized by the topography of cliffs, ravines and volcanic formations present in a landscape of rich biodiversity. Its territory includes a considerable number of vestiges of dwellings, cisterns and troglodytic granaries, whose antiquity reveals the presence of an autochthonous insular culture that evolved in an autarchic way since the arrival of the North African Berbers, at the beginning of our era, until the conquest of the archipelago of the Canaries by the Spaniards in the XV century.
The troglodytic vestiges also include some caves dedicated to ritual practices, as well as the temples or “almogarenes” of the Risco Caído and the Roque Bentayga where ceremonies related to the seasons of the year were held. It is possible that these two “almogarenes” are related to an eventual cult rendered to the stars and the “Mother Earth”.
Risco Caído and the sacred mountains of Gran Canaria constitute a pre-Hispanic archaeological site of troglodyte settlements with temples and markers of clear astronomical features.
The 1500 caves for habitational and agricultural-livestock use, vertical settlements, fortified granaries, caves, temples, necropolis, Libyan-Berber inscriptions, a thousand rock cave triangles (symbol of fertility, the greatest concentration in the world), and the routes of the ancestral transhumance, have contributed to its worldwide recognition.
Rapanui in the Pacific and now Gran Canaria in the Atlantic are the two most genuine representations of the ancient disappeared island cultures of the world, which has 100,000 islands of which only Gran Canaria includes sanctuaries with astronomical functionality, a quality that makes it unique, together to other attributes.
It is also the largest insular troglodyte manifestation of the planet with unprecedented vertical urbanisations, almost impossible, and strange cave-ponds testimony of very ancient cultures.
Highlights the almogarén or sanctuary of Risco Caído, place of meeting of the Faycanes (priests). The cave has the peculiarity of its vaulted structure (unique case in the islands) that has an artificial orifice that receives the light of dawn at certain times of the year produces a peculiar optical effect on the images printed on the wall of the cave. The drawings of triangles (possible representations of the pubis) suggest that it is a temple dedicated to fertility.
This recognition will also ensure the conservation of heritage and the transmission of the exceptional cultural legacy. The set of archaeological sites of the ancient Canary Islands declared World Heritage Site are distributed mostly by the municipalities of Artenara, Tejeda, Agaete and Gáldar.
It is not a very populated area, far from the coast and perhaps for that reason not too well known to many visitors in Gran Canaria. Surely from now on it gains more popularity, but we hope it will continue to maintain its mystery and the charm of the landscapes carved by time and human hands when they tried, not only to survive but also to understand and give meaning to their world.