Pirámides de Güímar, Tenerife

An article published in a local newspaper in the early 1990s brought these six step pyramids into the public eye. The information reached Norwegian anthropologist, Thor Heyerdahl, who was internationally renowned for his transatlantic voyages using vessels of prehistoric design, and for his theories concerning human migration.

Heyerdahl carefully studied photographs of these pyramids and noticed the many geometrical similarities between them and the step pyramids found in Sicily, Mexico, Mesopotamia, Polynesia and Peru. He relocated to Tenerife to study the step pyramids and established a permanent residence here until his death in 2002.

The Casa Chacona Museum is situated on the ground floor of a 19th century house. In the first room is a collection of different statues and pre-Colombian engravings of bearded gods found in Mexico and Peru. At the time these statues were made the American Indian population of these places were not able to grow beards and therefore these replicas of bearded gods would suggest that visitors from across the ocean had travelled to South America well before our records state.

Within the same exhibition is a sacrifice scene from a Mayan mural painting from the pre-Colombian temple of the Warriers. The painting shows a fair-skinned prisoner with long, yellow hair being sacrificed by dark-skinned captors. If there had been no European visitors to these countries at this time why would the native population create murals and engravings of fair-skinned and bearded people?


Heyerdahl’s theory is that some sailors may have used the ocean currents and trade winds, which create a constant conveyor belt from Africa to America, to cross the Atlantic Ocean much earlier than we think. The current is composed of the Gulf stream, the Canary current and the North Equatorial current. The conveyor belt is produced by the encounter of the warm waters from the Gulf of Mexico and the cold waters of the Atlantic, in combination with the global winds of the northern hemisphere.

The first civilisations that arose on either side of the Atlantic Ocean have many cultural parallels that Heyerdahl believed were due to overseas contact. While trying to prove his theory he collected a large number of examples, such as the practice of trepanation of the skull, mummification, hieroglyphic writing, construction of step pyramids and the use of reed to make boats.

The Expeditions room displays a model of the wood rafted boat, Kon Tiki, in which Heyerdahl and a crew of five sailed the Pacific Ocean in 1947. Models of the Ra and Ra II that Heyerdahl used to cross the Atlantic Ocean in  1969 and 1970 and the Tigris, in which he crossed the Indian Ocean in 1977-1978, are also are also displayed here.


The six step-pyramids of Güímar were built for sun worship with stepped sides and flat tops and were left by the earliest civilisations on either side of the Atlantic. The first were built by reed boat builders in Mesopotamia and Egypt about 5,000 years ago and later they also appeared among reed boat builders in Mexico and Peru.


The site of the pyramids is also home to Cueva Chacona, a natural lava tube that contained remains dating from the times of the Guanches, and the Poison Garden, which houses over 70 poisonous plant species from around the world.


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Pirámides de Güímar, Tenerife

by Uncover Travel time to read: 2 min
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