Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar
...Pyramids and Many More Surprises

In the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar they teach a lot about the customs, culture and history of the Canary Islands. In a single visit, without knowing many technical terms, you can get a general idea about the different aspects of the islands.

North complex of the Pyramids of Güímar

The first panel we found explained a bit about the origin of the family of Fred Olsen (the owners of the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar) in the Canary Islands and the export of products by sea (bananas, tomatoes, etc.) which they carried out in the past.

The two original figureheads (the conquered and the conqueror) from the boats with which they started to work in the Canary Islands, Bruno and Bencomo, at Piramides de Guimar Park

There are some murals leading up to the museum which represent the arrival of the Spanish in the Canary Islands and then in America.

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In Tenerife the Guanches have resisted so much to the conquest by the Spanish, that had to stop initially in La Gomera and then continue their journey to ‘India’, although it is well known that they ‘stumbled upon’ the American continent in the middle, where they were received like gods…

Before entering the museum, there is a papyrus or large reed plant, which will be an important and essential element in the theme which develops in the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar. 

The papyrus or totora was used in Egypt to make paper and they (and other civilisations) also use it to build boats.

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Thor Heyerdahl crossed the ocean from Morocco to Barbados in a boat made of reed or papyrus (he covered more than 6,000 km in 57 days) in order to demonstrate that it was possible to make this journey in a boat made of such material

Prices and Tickets of Piramides de Guimar

In October 2015 the prices for the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar varied if the visitor was a resident or not and if they opted for the full visit to the park (tours and exhibitions) or three other options: Combination 1 (entry and the Rapa Nui exhibition), Combination 2 (entry and the Jardín Venenoso exhibition) or just entry.

Full tourCombination 1Combination 2Basic ticket
Student (- 25)€12.15€10.90€10.90€7.65
Child (aged 9-12)€5.50€5.50€5.50€5.50
Student (- 25)€11.25€10€10€6.75
Child (aged 9-12)€4.50€4.50€4.50€4.50

The Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar is 64,000m2, so if you decide to do all of the tours and exhibitions which are offered to you there you should allow about three or four hours so as not to miss a single detail.

Theories About the Creation of the Guimar Pyramids

Whatever the origin of Piramides de Guimar, at Tenerife Travel Secrets we believe that the cultural heritage of the island must be cared for and protected, whether it be simply a pile of rocks (because they are quite unusual), or anything else. Without a doubt, we believe that the construction of the pyramids was not by chance, whatever the objective.

The theories which are considered and presented through the different posters which can be found around the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar are the following:

Theory #1. There are various examples of tiered pyramids in the world and Thor Heyerdahl (founder of the park) saw many similarities between the construction of the Güimar Pyramids and others for it to have been coincidence. He believed that ancient civilisations from the European/African side of the Atlantic were able to make out Tenerife on their way to South America, stopped on the island and eventually constructed or taught its inhabitants to construct this type of building.

In the museum of the Pirámides de Güímar there is a large collection of photographs of pyramids in the world. The oldest pyramid in Egypt is Saqqara and it is staggered.

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Thor Heyerdahl believed that Christopher Columbus was not the first to arrive in South America and the basis of this theory is that remains of this kind of vessel have been found on both sides of the ocean. He personally made two journeys with two different vessels (Ra and Ra II) to demonstrate that this journey could be done. When he made the journey in 1970 on Ra II, he could make out the Teide in the distance

Replicas of three ships of papyrus built by Thor Heyerdahl. Papyrus is a very light plant, cut, dried and moistened to make it flexible, thus built boats which material allowed them to be very fast.

Theory #2. When the University of La Laguna did the first archaeological studies, no vegetal remains were found from before the 19th Century. For that reason, they thought that the Güimar Pyramids are piles of large rocks made by the farmers at the time when they were clearing the adjacent pieces of land to be able to cultivate the areas which remained free of stones.

Theory #3. Later a study was done by the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias in which if a person positions themselves in the centre of the north section of the Güimar Pyramids on 21st June, they can observe a double sunset, or if they position themselves in the centre of pyramid 2 and create an imaginary line towards the horizon on 21st December, the sun rises exactly in the middle of it. For that reason, the theory of the pile of stones is thought very improbable and too coincidental. It is thought to be a microcalendar with a specific objective: to indicate the solstices (the start of the summer and the winter).

In general, all the stepped pyramids (in their construction details) have a ladder to access the top and face east - to the sunrise. This general rule is met with pirámides de Güímar

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The rocks have been dated, but no organic material was found which would indicate when the pyramids could have been made.

Theory #4. Under pyramid number 1 is the Cueva Chacona (a volcanic tube some 8 metres long) where Guanche remains were found, but it is impossible to know whether the pyramid was or wasn’t from the time of the Guanches (from 980 to 1020).

In the museum of the Pyramids of Güímar there is a section dedicated to the Chaconne cave, where Guanche remains were found.

Theory #5Antonio Díaz Flores built the house, emigrated to South America, made a huge fortune, became a Freemason (in 1874, 3 years before passing away), and upon his return to Tenerife believed that he wanted to reproduce what he had seen in South America. The pyramids are not mentioned in his writings from when he bought the land. However, when he died and the papers were drawn up to divide his estate between his heirs, the pyramids were mentioned, and for that reason it is thought that he was the one who built them. The Freemasons also worshipped the sun, so they are guided by the solstices.

Entrance of Parque Etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar and Museum in the Casa Chacona

Piramides de Guimar, Their Structure

The first pyramids which you will come across in the park are pyramids 5 and 6. From the viewing point (leaving the museum) you can see a very long pyramid (numbers 3 and 4 were joined together in the second phase of construction). To the right you can see number 2 (from where you can see the winter solstice) and number 1 is the smallest one which is found behind number 2.

Pyramid number 5 in the Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar.

Their existence was first known about when different articles appeared in a local newspaper in the late 90s, and although initially there was speculation around the idea that they had occult origins, that hypothesis was soon thrown out. Someone sent a copy of one of the articles to Thor Heyerdahl (a famous Norwegian pyramid historian) and after studying them he convinced his friend Fred Olsen to buy the land and do some excavations, with a group of archaeologists from the University of La Laguna, in the ceremonial square which separates pyramids 2 and 3.

Pyramid No. 2 with the square that connects with the Pyramid No. 3 in the Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar.

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The Güimar Pyramids were about to disappear, as the Council’s urban planning had imagined the construction of a road which passed straight through the land. The condition on which the land was then bought was that the Council reclassify it as protected (the opposite of what usually happens… )

They are similar to other tiered pyramids in that:

  • All of this type of pyramid have these steps which lead to the highest part;
  • The stones with which the pyramids were made are different from those which are found in the surrounding land, as they are volcanic rock and less rounded;
  • All of the stones have been put in the walls with the smooth side facing outwards, so that the walls are completely straight;
  • The corner stones have been carved so as to have straight angles;
  • In pyramid number 4 an excavation was made and inside you don’t find large stacked stones (as you might expect in a pile of rocks) but rather very small stones and sand.
Pyramid No. 6 in the Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar.

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The pyramids of Piramides de Guimar are practically in the original state in which they were found, when Thor Heyerdahl came to Güimar for the first time.

North complex of pyramids at the Parque etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar.

Guimar Pyramids Museum and Cultural Dissemination Area About the Life of Thor Heyerdahl

In the museum you can find reproductions of different gods from Peru, Mexico, etc., frescos which are found in South American pyramids, children’s memory games, varied activities, reproductions of boats, differences between tiered pyramids and tiered structures, their relationship with the vessels which were found in those areas, photographs of pyramids, etc.

In the museum of Casa Chacona there are many replicas and activities for all ages and tastes.

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The Aymara Indians live on Lake Titicaca and are the experts in creating this type of reed vessel, as the currents in the lake have forced them to make boats which are resistant enough to be able to sail there

Replica of a papyrus boat made by the Aymara from Lake Titicaca.

There is an auditorium where you will find the biography and life adventures of Thor Heyerdahl (1914 to 2002), told through images. For the last 10 years of his life, he lived in the Güimar Valley investigating the pyramids, although he continued doing different studies and investigations all over the world.

In the auditorium of Pyramids of Güímar it is explained in detail the life of Thor Heyerdahl.

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There is a reproduction of the boat Ra II, which is just a metre smaller than the original boat, which the Aymara built from reed (or papyrus) in just a month and a half using very rudimentary tools. It also has the flags of the different nationalities of the crew members on that voyage.

Reproduction of the boat Ra II built by the Aymara in Parque etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar.

Routes Within the Etnographic Park Piramides de Guimar and Permanent Exhibitions

The Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar can be visited in different ways, as with the passing of the years they have added new, diverse routes:

  • Ruta Cultural – this is divided into two parts along the park and talks about Canary Island history, culture and traditions: famous visits to the islands, mythology, the period of the conquest, the pirates who were on the islands (Amaro Pargo, Cabeza de Perro), etc.
Cultural route and the building of the Kon-Tiki cafe of the Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar.

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This route appeared because of the constant questions by visitors who wanted to know a bit more about traditions, Canary Island games, costumes from the islands, flora and fauna in the Canaries, emigration, etc

Panoramic terrace of the parque etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar.
  • Ruta Botánica Canaria – gardens embellish the area around the Güimar Pyramids, but they have made the most of planting native Canary Island flora (tuneras, dragon trees, etc.) and a pine tree area for picnics … There are small interesting details and little secrets which we are not going to reveal so that the surprise remains for you J

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Wolfredo Wildpret de la Torre, a Professor Emeritus at the University of La Laguna – besides other achievements in his carreer, has helped in the development of the gardens which surround the pyramids.

  • Ruta de Exportaciones – products which have been important for export in the Canary Islands, like bananas, tomatoes, cochineal, wine, etc.
  • Ruta Volcánica – this will be open soon, although there is already an explanation of the Malpaís de Güimar, and in a palm grove on different panels you will see how the Teide and the Ucanca Valley were formed.

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In 2016 a new area will open (in collaboration with the University of La Laguna) – a kind of sustainable garden.

The Ethnographic Park Pyramids of Güímar is continuously growing.
  • Rapa Nui Polinesia Exhibition – extreme survival, where they talk about primitive navigation and Easter Island (extra charge). It is an area assigned to the Mata Ki Te Rangi Foundation. They tell how the island was populated, how the people lived and, when they lost the art of navigation, how they started to construct the Easter Island Statues, for which they deforested the island to the point of savagery. This is posed as an example of what is happening in the rest of the world today.
Part of the exhibition of Easter Island in the parque etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar.

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He was the first scientist who excavated Easter Island, demonstrating that it wasn’t just heads in the ground

  • Jardín Venenoso (extra charge) – there are some basic rules to be aware of the danger posed by plants (without frightening), so you cannot touch, smell or eat the plants. You are taught that some of the plants used to be used for medicinal purposes, but also for deadly ends. There are many stories and historical events linked with poison – super interesting and ‘illustrative’ :) 
The Jardín Venenoso (Poisonous Garden) at the Pyramids of Güímar is the only one in Spain.

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The inspiration for creating this garden was one located in Northumberland (England) – The Alnwick Poison Garden. It is the only garden with poisonous plants in Spain.

The Jardín Venenoso (Poisonous Garden) at Pyramids of Güímar has many common plants

Piramides de Guimar for Children

A variety of different activities are on offer with a focus for children, such as bilingual summer camps, activities like treasure hunts, workshops teaching about recycling, etc.

On the other hand in the park there is a children’s play area and a conservatory near the cafeteria where children can continue to learn as they play.

Children's playroom next to the Kon-Tiki cafe in the main building of the parque etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar.
Kon-Tiki cafe in the main building of the parque etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar.

We took our 3½ year old and, although the visit was somewhat long for him (it seemed too short for us J), there was always some interesting detail which captured his attention. In any case we believe that from 6 or 7 years old a child could really make the most of the visit.

Outdoor playground near pyramid No. 6 Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar.

Purchasing your ticket

Getting to Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar

From the motorway you have to take exit 22 (leading to Puerto de Güimar), towards the town of Güimar. You should drive through the town, but the route is clearly indicated so you won’t get lost, and you can park for free in the car park at the main entrance to the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar.

Etnographic Park Piramides de Guimar - Calle Chacona s/n Güímar, 38500 - Tenerife

Final Comments from the Authors

The visit to the Ethnographic Park Piramides de Guimar was a surprise. We had heard all sorts of comments about what we would find there, but the way the different theories surrounding these tiered pyramids are presented really delighted us. Whatever the origin and the function for which they were created and constructed, as we mentioned previously, it is laudable that an individual company has put so much into conserving and taking care of this rare heritage site in the Canary Islands.

North complex of pyramids at parque etnográfico Pirámides de Güímar.

On the other hand, it is interesting how the different options within the park to do with Canary Island culture and tradition have developed, so that the visitor (be they resident or not) leaves the park knowing a bit more about the origins and ‘raison d’être’ of Canary Islanders in general. It is definitely a visit we would vehemently recommend for all those who want to learn a bit more about the Canary Islands and form their own idea of the origin of the Güimar Pyramids.

Pyramid No. 5 under the morning sun in the Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güímar

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