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Popular Tenerife Legends & Myths

Princess Guacimara

 

Princess Guacimara

They say that she rose at the crack of dawn every day to gaze at Teide, covered at times by snow, and at others by ash. Kneeled up on the earth which it had given her, she prayed to this God that was so tall and so beautiful.

The story of Guacimara is the epitome of adventure and sacrifice. The Guanche Princess of Anaga sensed trouble ahead when she saw enemy sails of the Spanish far away in the distance. They say that she fought from the centre of Santa Cruz down to the sands of Añaza and that with her spear, she battled the warriors that had come to take her land and dignity.
Her achievement was immortalised in the wonderful ‘Poema de Viana’, half chronicle of war, half love story:

 

“And they say that she was so beautiful
And they say that she was so brave
And they say that such a spell was hidden in her look
That more than one adventurer fell at the beaches of Añaza,
When not wounded in the flesh, their souls wounded by love”
 

Perhaps the most beautiful Guanche Princess in history, Guacimara was the daughter of Beneharo, and recently wed to Ruymán, heir of Taoro. She managed the weapons of her people with skill, and as a child, knew all the barrancos of the kingdom. As a result of her beauty, she aroused passions in the local men, who silently loved her.
Then Ruymán arrived, who loved Guacimara unconditionally at a time where love affairs, family rivalries and marriages of convenience were the norm.

Rather than fall to enemy hands, she leapt into the ocean from a cliff top; a sacrifice that amplified her legend, and made her a treasured part of Canarian history. Perhaps her body transformed into a mermaid, perhaps even today she continues to swim in the waves between the islands, freer than ever before – we can create our mythology from the stories and legends as beautiful as that of the unbreakable Princess and the noble warrior.

The Spanish invaders wanted to end the Guanche bloodline, but the Guanche people continue to exist. Guacimara, the Guanche Princess and defender of Tenerife, and the primitive inhabitants of the islands were betrayed by the paid killers sent from distant kings. But her people live on, as well as the legacies of her sacrifice, and perhaps even her spirit.

*Translated from Spanish to English by Elisha Ramage who can be contacted for translations at: ElishaRamage@hotmail.com

 

Atlantis

 

Atlantis

Throughout generations, the story of Atlantis has been very popular, especially in the Canaries.
It is claimed that the Canary Islands formed the mountain tops of the lost city of Atlantis which was part of a huge underwater continent in the Atlantic.

Legend has it that Poseidon, Greek god of the sea, was the ruler of this large advanced city, and its people were generous, fair and very peaceful.
It is said that the inhabitants changed and became greedy and warlike which earned the wrath of Zeus who passed judgement by causing volcanic eruptions and massive tidal waves that destroyed everything in its path.

Some say that the ruins of Atlantis still exist and point to cathedral looking underwater structures that hint at those possibilities.

 

Gara & Jonay

 

Gara & Jonay

A typical Guanche legend known to many on the islands is about Gara, a beautiful princess from
La Gomera who fell madly in love with Jonay, prince and son of the king of Tenerife.

The legend goes on to say that using goat hides, Jonay swam across to La Gomera to meet his lover. Shortly after this, Teide began to release smoke at the site of the volcano and seeing this as a bad omen, the parents objected to their relationship.

Caught up with emotions, they fled together to the highest peak in La Gomera but were followed and eventually surrounded.

Knowing there was no way out, they sharpened a stick at both ends and in a final embrace, drove the stick through their hearts to become eternal lovers.

The Garajonay national park is named so to commemorate this young couple who chose death rather than a mortal life living apart.

 

 

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