Tenerife has a rich historical background, interesting monuments and museums spread along the island will help you to discover the amazing past of this island, which has been a bridge between continents and civilizations. Let’s have a look at the history of Tenerife.
The formation of the island
Tenerife, and the rest of the Canary islands, are considered the sons of Pluton. The oldest mountain ranges in Tenerife rose from the Atlantic Ocean later than the neighbouring eastern islands, the volcanic evolution which gave birth to the island finished around twelve million years ago.
The island that we know today was formed three million years ago by three different islands, with the mountain ranges of Anaga, Teno and Valle de San Lorenzo. The activity from the Teide volcano finally melted together the different islands which became Tenerife. The amazing volcano is still visible from most parts of the island and its crater reaches 17 km long in some points. The last volcanic eruption took place in 1909 near the village Santiago del Teide and the last volcanic activity in Tenerife took place 500,00 years ago.
The Spanish conquest
The island was conquered by the Spanish empire around 500 years ago, Alonso Fernandez de Lugo, the Spanish conqueror arrived at the bay of Santa Cruz, known at the time as Anaza. On the 31st of May 1494, the king ordered him to suppress the last canary natives mainstay, but the Guanches (natives from Tenerife) proved to be very corageous and resisted the attack.
The king of Raoro, Bencomo (today La Orotava) who was the most important of all nine kings of the island, gathered his soldiers and enticed the impostors to the Bay of Acentejo. 2,000 Spaniards fell and Alonso Fernandez de Lugo was seriously injured.
Since then, the town where this terrible events happened is known as la Matanza (the massacre in Spanish). Currently, next to the highway there is a huge stone wall painted with a Guanche sounding the victory signal through a horn in the place where the massacre happened. On December 25th, 1495, one and a half years later, the Spanish crown finally conquered Tenerife, after a plague destabilised the Guanche population. The extinction of the natives and the Guanche culture was kept secret and always denied for a long time after.
The memory of the last nine Kings was kept alive by statues made with lava at the beach in front of the Basílica, in Candelaria. Unfortunately due to the effects of the years and especially to the erosion, these statues were corroded and destroyed.
In 1496, the city of ‘San Cristobal de La Laguna’ was built, next to a lagoon and close to the harbour of Añaza. In 1723 after the victory over the Guanches, the Spanish governor, de Lugo, changed the government’s headquarters to the city of Santa Cruz.
The mysterious Guanches, natives of Tenerife, where known as the more dangerous and most feared from the canary island inhabitants. They were cavern men and buried their dead in caves.
There is little information about the origins of the Guanches, but it seems that they came from the northwest of Africa. A stone with some symbols engraved was found, supposedly of Bereber origin. However, there are only theories and speculations about how the Guanches first arrived the islands.