The island of La Palma is a beautiful place filled with inky volcanic beaches, telescopes, and nature reserves. What some visitors don’t know is that it’s also littered with ancient pre-Hispanic ruins left by the island’s indigenous inhabitants, the Guanches.
Indigenous to the Canary Islands, the Guanches had the bad luck of being discovered by the Spanish, who conquered and absorbed their society. The Spanish did a predictably thorough job, but Guanche ruins can still be found scattered around the islands.
One of the most impressive ruins is the Pirámide de Vandama, a step pyramid made of smartly stacked stones. Visible from the tourist district of Los Cancajos, it has been subject to many legends and stories. Some skeptics say it’s a new structure made for the tourists, while others insist it’s an ancient sacrificial ground where captured Spaniards were murdered. Old accounts from a visiting Spanish captain suggest it was used as a place to dry fruits.
Modern archeologists have determined that the pyramid is indeed pre-Hispanic and information about it can be found in the local museum dedicated to the island’s history. The pyramid itself is, however, fully accessible if you know where to go, and unfortunately not currently protected. So if you visit, please do your part to leave the historic pyramid untouched.
Know Before You Go
There is no road to the pyramid but the best way to reach it is from the LP-5 road, where you can walk north until you see it between the shrubs. It is required to cross some rough terrain to get to it, but it is possible.