Cueva Pintada

Painted Cave


Useful Information

Image: Guanche living in the cueva pintada. This is not the real cave but the model in the Museo Canario in Las Palmas.
Location: In Galdar, Gran Canaria, Canarias. Located at the GC-810, the old national road through the town, south of the center and the tourist information. Signposted.
Open: All year daily 9:30-18:30, first and last tour.
Guided tours in Spanish every hour on the hour.
English 12:30, German 14:30, French 15.
Only prebooked by telefone or internet!
[2007]
Fee: Adults EUR 6, Children (17-18) EUR 3.90, Children (10-16) EUR 3, Seniors (65+) EUR 3.
[2007]
Classification: ExplainCave House mainly artficial cave in volcanic tufa.
Light: electric.
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
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Address: Parque Arqueologico Cueva Pintada, C/ Audiencia n° 2, 35460 Gáldar, Tel: +34-928-895746, Fax: +34-928-55240.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1873 discovered by the farmer José Ramos Orihuela, some say while looking for a goat, some say while preparing the land for planting.
1876 dicovery mentioned by Chil y Naranjo from the Museo Canario.
1887 cave description by the French anthopologist René Verneau.
1967 press campaign started in favour of the restoration of the place.
1970 restoration started by the Comisaría General de Excavaciones Arqueológicas (General Delegation of Archaeological Excavations).
1972 the cave was declared a Historic Artistic Monument, opened to the public.
1974 first scientific work about the cave published.
1982 cave closed to the public to protect the paintings.
1987 excavation started by Celso Martín de Guzmán and Jorge Onrubia Pintado.
1988 Cueva Pintada Archaeological Park project started.
26-JUL-2006 cave reopened, new museum inaugurated.

Description

Image: the artist at work: a Guanche drawing the exceptional geometric patterns. This is not the real cave but the model in the Museo Canario in Las Palmas.

Cueva Pintada is a small cave with geometric painings from the Guanche, which is uniqe on the island. It is located in the small town Gáldar, which was the seat of Gran Canaria's ancient rulers at the time of conquest in 1478. The Spanish city was built over the aboriginal settlement and the cave lost.

The cave has several rooms which were used as cave houses by the Guanche. They dug the rooms with stone age tools out of the soft volcanic tufa. Several walls were built from basalt or tufa without mortar. Bed and seat were also carved out of the the soft rock.

In the caves mumies, tools and pottery were found. But the most famous finds were the drawings, that gave the cave its name. This drawings are bleaching by the light, so the cave was closed several years ago. Another problem is irrigation water, oozing though the volcanic ash rock of the cave, is raising the humidity and destroys the paint.

The paintings are red, black, and white squares, spirals, and triangles. The meaning of the paintings is not clear, some imagine symbols of female fertility the expression of religious beliefs. But maybe they are just simply for decoration.

The whole site, the cave and the ruins of the surrounding village, were restored during the last years. The paintings were covered by a special glass to protect them. A new museum was created, which shows the findings and - as a part of the visit - the view into the cave. However, it is not possible to enter the cave, just a visit through the protecting glass is possible. There are computers in the museum which allow a virtual cave visit, and there is a new website which also allows a virtual visit. However, the information provided is not very good and the virtual visit is a computer animated mpeg file, obviously generated by the architect of the new museum building. Hopefully this will change soon, now the museum is opened.