Archaeological Park Belmaco

The Archaeological Park of Belmaco La Palma, located in the Villa de Mazo on La Palma, stands out as a significant archaeological site in the Canary Islands. Since its discovery in the 18th century, this site has been recognized as a landmark for those interested in the archipelago’s past.

belmaco cave

Explore the archaeological richness of Belmaco La Palma Cave, home to the oldest petroglyphs in the Canaries

The archaeological site comprises ten natural caves and an area of petroglyphs or rock drawings, which have been subject to various interpretations. Today, it has been declared a Historic Artistic Monument.

Belmaco La Palma Cave offers services to enhance visitors’ experiences. It’s advised to park vehicles and head first to the visitor center, where detailed information about the site is available. Through informative panels, visitors can traverse a pleasant pathway leading to different archaeological deposits. At the end of the tour, the museum shop showcases beautiful local La Palma crafts.

Belmaco Archaeological Park is an enriching space to understand the history and cultural legacy of the Canary Islands. It offers an educational and captivating experience for visitors keen on exploring the region’s archaeological heritage.

What are petroglyphs?

Petroglyphs are rock engravings found worldwide, including the Canary Islands, particularly on La Palma. These rock markings represent artistic and cultural expressions of the ancient civilizations inhabiting the region.

The Canarian petroglyphs provide a fascinating testament to the Canary Islands’ aboriginal culture, known as the Benahoaritas. These stone engravings give insight into the life and beliefs of people living thousands of years ago.

La Palma’s petroglyphs are varied in design and symbolism, depicting human figures, animals, geometric symbols, and abstract motifs. Each holds specific significance to the Benahoarita culture, reflecting their connection with nature, environment, and spirituality.

It’s believed that petroglyphs served various functions and purposes. Some studies suggest they might’ve been used for ritual, religious, or magical purposes, as protection symbols, territory markers, visual communication, or preserving the community’s collective memory.

Discovering the Beauty and Meaning of La Palma Petroglyphs: A Remarkable Archaeological Treasure

The Canarian petroglyphs, especially those on La Palma, are considered a valuable cultural and archaeological heritage. Their study and preservation are essential for understanding the history and culture of the ancient civilizations that inhabited the island. Moreover, they manifest the creativity and artistic skills of the Benahoaritas.

Must-visit places to admire petroglyphs on the beautiful island of La Palma

The oldest recorded petroglyphs on La Palma and throughout the Canary Islands are those in Belmaco Cave, discovered in 1752 by Don Domingo Vandewalle.

The most significant concentration of rock engravings or petroglyphs in La Palma is found in the municipalities of Garafía (Buracas, La Zarza) and El Paso (El Verde), located northwest and in the island’s center, respectively. Another significant area surrounds the breathtaking Caldera de Taburiente, exceeding 2,000 meters in altitude. Other sites of interest are located in the municipalities of Mazo (Belmaco La Palma Cave), Fuencaliente, Santa Cruz de La Palma, Puntallana, Tijarafe, and Puntagorda, which, although having fewer petroglyphs, contain significant rock ensembles.

Visiting La Palma’s petroglyph sites offers a unique experience, allowing you to delve into the past and appreciate the beauty and meaning of these ancient artistic expressions. It’s crucial to do so responsibly, respecting the sites, and following conservation guidelines to preserve this invaluable legacy for future generations.

belmaco cave

Diversity of shapes in La Palma’s petroglyphs: A window into Canarian rock art

The rock engravings found in La Palma are mainly classified as geometric motifs. While numerous examples of these types of motifs are present on the island, their often complex and strange appearance can mostly be categorized into four basic categories: circuliforms, spiraliforms, meandriforms, and linear. However, these geometric motifs can reach surprising complexity levels, even combining to create uniquely beautiful sets.

One of the most notable examples of the richness and complexity of geometric motifs in La Palma is panel number 19 from the La Zarza site, popularly known as “the rosette.” This panel is considered the “Sistine Chapel” of Canarian rock art due to its exceptional detail and artistic sophistication.

These geometric engravings have a significant presence in La Palma’s sites and are a distinctive element of Canarian rock art. Though four main categories have been identified, each can display a variety of designs and shapes, showcasing the island’s ancient inhabitants’ diversity and creativity.

The exact meaning of these geometric motifs remains a topic of debate and speculation. They could represent magical, cosmogonic symbols, or even astronomical maps. However, due to the lack of written records from La Palma’s aboriginal culture, interpreting these rock engravings remains a challenge.


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