Galdar Archaeological Site - History and Facts | History Hit

Galdar Archaeological Site

Galdar, Canary Islands, Spain

The Galdar Archaeological Site houses the best preserved remains of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Canary Islands.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Flickr CC Victor R. Ruiz

About Galdar Archaeological Site

The Galdar Archaeological Site houses the best preserved remains of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Canary Islands. Known as the Guanches, these were the indigenous people of the islands and are believed to have originated from North Africa sometime in the first millennium BC.

The Galdar Archaeological Site is also known as Cueva Pintada or the “Painted Cave”, a reference to its most celebrated find, a series of red, black and white cave paintings. Also there is a museum of finds from the Galdar Archaeological Site as well as the remains of a Guanche village.

Galdar Archaeological Site history

Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, early inhabitants of Gran Canaria revered the sun and the stars, and many caves and rock formations became places of worship. Such was the case with the Painted Cave, one of the most important archaeological sites on the Canary Islands and one that played a key part in the islands’ conquest. Inside this volcanic cave are the remains of houses and tools, as well as paintings that depict a type of calendar divided into 12 sections with different geometric shapes.

The pieces and artwork found in the cave date back to between the 11th and 13th centuries, suggesting that the paintings were created during the height of pre-Hispanic society on the Canary Islands. The settlement was abandoned after the conquest, and the society of the time began developing in small colonial hubs.

The cave was ‘rediscovered’ on several occasions following its initial discovery in 1862 during agricultural works.

Galdar Archaeological site and the cave was opened to the public in 1972. The site was closed in 1982 in response to the poor conservation and to enable research to be carried out.  Following more than 20 years of conservation works, the cave was reopened to the public in 2006 as the Painted Cave Museum and Archaeological Park.

Galdar Archaeological Site today

Galdar archaeological site is situated right in the heart of town and is now covered by a huge steel structure complete with walkways over the archaeological remains.

The main attraction is the collection of cave art in the heart of the complex. The rectangular chamber has an irregular pot-holed floor that experts believe was used for ceremonies and interring mummies.

The archaeological museum has different spaces for conserving, researching and disseminating the findings at the site, including a teaching room with a programme of activities for schools and the general public, as well as a lab and a library. The videos screened along the way explain the history and lifestyle of the indigenous people and are available in a variety of languages.

There is a limit of 20 people on each tour so it can be advantageous to book ahead.

Getting to Galdar Archaeological Site

The Painted cave is located at Audiencia street, in the centre of Gáldar, 27 km west of Las Palmas and 50 km N-W of the international airport of Gran Canaria. To get to the site by car, visitors can head to Gáldar through the north GC-2 road.