A Bit About Galdar
Galdar is located on Gran Canaria island at its most northern tip. To get to Galdar from Playa del Ingles, I took a bus to the capital, Las Palmas, and from there another bus to Galdar. All together the trip was about an hour and a half. Galdar is called the “first capital of Gran Canaria” because in the time before the arrival of the Europeans, this was the capital for the indigenous people of Gran Canaria, called “Agaldar” back then. The location of the Archaeological Museum and Park, is the actual site of the ancient village of Agaldar and its impressive “Painted Cave”. The photo to the left in Galdar is a monument to the “Native Princesses”.
The Indigenous People of Gran Canaria
Much evidence and research traces the Indigenous peoples of Gran Canaria to being descendants of the Berbers from North Africa about 3,000 years ago. When the Europeans arrived in the Canaries in the 14th and 15th centuries there were about 30 indigenous villages spread throughout the island with about 20,000 people populating them. Only 3,000 indigenous people survived the Spanish colonization.
The Ancient Village of Agaldar and the Archaeological Site
The ancient village of Agaldar was occupied from the 7th to the 16th centuries, with the best documented periods falling into the latter part of this era. The archaeological site comprises a group of man-made caves, known as the Troglodyte Complex, and within its centre is the decorated chamber, the “Painted Cave” or in Spanish, the “Cueva Pintada”.
The cave dwellings were dug out of the volcanic rock. Another type of dwelling within the village were semi-underground houses, houses that were started underground, then compressed volcanic rock was often used to build up the walls.
The entire archaeological site is protected with a roof over it and with access through its entirety with raised walkways. Several elevators allow visitors with mobility issues access to the whole site, as there are several stairs to climb.
The highlight of the guided tour through this archaeological site was visiting the painted cave, which is completely surrounded by glass to prevent any further deterioration of its painted portions. When the cave was discovered, it contained mummies, pottery and other archaeological items. It is estimated that this cave was painted in the 12th century; it is the most complex example of indigenous mural painting in Gran Canaria.
It is thought that this cave was used for special rituals related to burial ceremonies and offerings.In ancient cultures, oftentimes items are buried with the dead for the afterlife. Since this indigenous culture did not have a writing system, much is speculation.
This indigenous people had herds of goats, grew crops of barley, wheat, beans, peas, and lentils. They also ate figs and dates and preserved food with the use of salt. Within the museum portion of this site, there are many ceramic objects made by the indigenous people. Their pottery was hand made, with perfect shaping and symmetry and often decorated with geometrical shapes, circles, triangles and squares. Ceramic items were often used for storage or the preparation of food. There is a growing interest in the indigenous peoples as evidenced by the large group that took part in the guided tour and the many questions asked of our guide. The guide himself admitted that there is still a lot to learn about the indigenous peoples of Gran Canaria.