Risco Caído

On the left bank of the Barranco Hondo ravine, about 100 metres above the course of the ravine, is the ancient troglodyte settlement of Risco Caído, in surroundings that are very rich in paleontological vestiges.

The settlement is made up of a total of 21 caves dug out of the volcanic tuff located on top of a steep cliff that forms a ledge over the left bank of Barranco Hondo, between the small ravines of El Parral and Los Linderos. Also known as Risco Maldito, this ancient settlement has only been left abandoned since the mid 20th century, a further example of the survival into recent times of pre-Hispanic ways of life.

The most outstanding caves are those catalogued C6 and C7, due to their astronomical, ceremonial and symbolic importance.  These caves are located to the north of the settlement, and are probably the oldest. They host one of the most important mountain sanctuaries of the ancient Canarians. All the caves have a large number of pubic engravings, cup marks and bas-reliefs.

Cave C6, known as the almogarén or sanctuary of Risco Caído, is an excavated enclosure with a circular floor and paraboloid dome, very rare in this type of construction on the island.

Apart from its special architecture, the most significant characteristic is that this cave has an optical device or channel that has been dug out to project the sun’s rays or the full moon onto one of the walls of the main chamber, where the cave manifestations in the form of cup marks, pubic triangles and engravings in bas-relief are found. It is a unique manifestation showing a visual language which is incredible for these cultures, a hierophany consisting of the dynamic projection of the sunlight penetrating through the opening, specifically designed for that purpose. This creates a surprising sequence of images that are projected onto part of the engravings, thus reproducing moving visual images that have been repeated from time immemorial and which would have a symbolic and astronomical function. In fact, cave C6 was conceived as an extremely complex and unique solstitial and equinoctial marker.