The highest elevation in Spain and the islands of the Atlantic, Mount Teide is also the third-largest volcano in the world from its base, after only Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It is an active volcano that last erupted in 1909.
The mountain is a sacred place for the Guanches, the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands. According to the Guanche mythology, Guayota (an evil god) kidnapped Magec (the god of light and the sun), and imprisoned him inside the volcano. Without the sun, the world was plunged into darkness, and the people prayed to Achamán, principal god worshipped by the Guanches. Achamán fought Guayota in a fierce battle. He freed Magec and trapped Guayota inside the volcano instead, the evil god remained.
Another Guanche story held that Mount Teide was responsible for holding up the sky. Archeologists, over the years, have found many tools and pottery crafted from stone and other natural products. It is thought that these tools were built by the Guanches and offered to the mountain to counter the influence of evil spirits.
Mount Teide is surrounded by the Teide National Park. The park has an area of nearly 19,000 hectares, and was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in mid-2007. That recognition helped to boost the allure of the park, which was also named one of the top twelve treasures of Spain after making the UNESCO list. Located in the center of the island of Tenerife, the park hosts close to three million visitors a year.
Know Before You Go
From the center of Tenerife island, just go uphill.