Vasija
The signs of the use the Guanches (the name given to the prehispanic population of Tenerife) made of the Teide National Park are part of the rich history of this territory. Their constructions, their burial caves, the remains of tools and utensils, along with the wide scientific interest that the summit of Tenerife has raised since ancient times, makes up a wide historical range which is essential to understand the importance of this territory.

 

When the Crown of Castile conquered Tenerife, during the last decade of the fifteenth century, the island was divided into nine menceyatos (kingdoms to which corresponded a given territory) disposed from the coast to the summit, allowing the seasonal use of the resources provided by nature. The territory of Las Cañadas del Teide was not integrated into any menceyato, but was communally used by all of them.

The Guanches used the Cañadas mainly for grazing, which was the basis of the economy and a fundamental pillar of their way of life. During summer, they took the herds to the summits to take advantage of the best vegetation conditions.

Another resource of Las Cañadas, of great importante for the aboriginal population, is the obsidian. This stone was carved to obtain cutting edges and to make tools with them. The tabonas, name of these utensils, were found in archaeological sites distributed throughout the island.

Apart from the material resources that the Guanches obtained in Las Cañadas, this territory had also great importance as a sacred place. For them, in the interior of this volcano lived Guayota, the devil. This belief is related to the eruptive activity that the Guanches, without doubt, became acquainted.

After the conquest, some of the uses survived for long in time. This is the case of grazing, particularly more when the cattle was relegated to the summits in order to dedicate the low-lying areas to agriculture. However, other resources also began to be obtained: the exploitation of apiculture, which continues up to this day; the development of coal works and the production of cisco (retama sheets, sliced and used as a bed for the cattle); the removal of sulfur in the crater of Mount Teide, which was then used in the vineyards; the exploitation of ice in Teide also; and the collection of dirt and volcanic sand to use in the rugs of the Corpus Christi in La Orotava, which is still done today.

The Canary Islands were known since ancient times, since both the Phoenicians and the Romans and Punics located them in their maps and used them as a point of reference. In addition, some Roman historians referred to the archipelago in their writings and, from the XIII century, and mainly during the XIV, several European sailors began to record their passage through the islands.

In 1496 the conquest of Tenerife was completed and the island, as well as the rest of the archipelago, was incorporated into the Crown of Castile. From then on, the Canary Islands became, not only a place of strategic step in the sea routes of the Atlantic, but also a reference for setting the geographic coordinates of navigation charts. For this purpose, and during several centuries, there was a great interest among the European powers to determine the correct placement and height of the volcano Teide, being this one the first mountain outside the continent tested by the Torricelli barometer in the seventeenth century.

Among the travellers that visited Las Cañadas during the XVI century and described Teide in their books, it is worth highlighting the English merchant Thomas Nichols and the Italian engineer Leonardo Torriani. During the Age of the Enlightenment, the French abbé Feuillee was the first naturalist that, during his trip in 1724, performed a scientific description of Las Cañadas and of its flora and fauna. But the visit of the most famous naturalist and explorer of this period was at the end of the eighteenth century: Alexander Von Humboldt, whose comments on the vegetation storeys of Tenerife were the model this scientist used to relate the different types of vegetation with the altitude.

In 1815, the geologist Leopold Von Buch incorporated Teide to the volcanology science and he was the one who began to use the term "caldera" (boiler) in this area, to refer to large volcanic depressions. Shortly after, the great researchers Phillip Barker Webb and Sabin Berthelot devoted ample space in their masterpiece "Natural History of the Canary Islands" to the flora, fauna and geology of Las Cañadas.

With the stays in Las Cañadas of Charles Piazzi Smith, in 1856, and Jean Mascart, in 1910, the high mountain of Tenerife began to be a part of the astronomical research, thanks to the clarity of the sky at that altitude. By that time, the atmospheric dynamics also arose great interest in the scientific bodies of several European countries. Finally, it was Germany the country that established an observatory of atmospheric research in Las Cañadas, although it was of short duration and was dismantled following the beginning of the First World War. The Spanish government ended up taking centre stage in this type of studies, with the inauguration of the Meteorological Observatory of Izaña in 1916. On the other hand, with the establishment of permanent telescopes in Izaña since the 1960s and the creation of the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands slightly later, the astronomical research carried out in Las Cañadas continued to make great progress after the work started by the pioneers already mentioned.

Since the end of the XIX century, with the publication of the first travel guides about the Canary Islands in Britain, some tourist activity began to develop in Tenerife, very modest in comparison to the current, but starting to play a role in the island's economy. It was parallel to the establishment of many British families, mainly in the Valle de La Orotava, on the occasion of the commercial development related to the export of bananas, tomatoes and potatoes to Europe.

One of the virtues of a trip to the Canary Islands, according to the early chroniclers, was its climate for the treatment of respiratory diseases. Naturally, one of the appealing extras was a tour to Las Cañadas del Teide. This tourist activity led to the construction of hotels in La Orotava, Puerto de la Cruz, Tacoronte, La Laguna and Santa Cruz. It continued upward during the first half of the twentieth century, even though there were severe ups and downs caused by the two world wars and the Spanish civil war.

Between the forties and fifties of the last century, the construction and commissioning of the roads that allowed to reach the centre of the island contributed, in great measure, to the tourist development of Las Cañadas del Teide and to its statement as a National Park in 1954. Later, in 1960, the Parador Nacional del Teide was built. Therefore, the national park and its reality as a tourist phenomenon have been hand in hand since its origin as a protected natural space.

For the uniqueness and richness of its nature, as well as its excellent state of conservation, this national park has been awarded the European Diploma for the Conservation in 1989, which has been frequently renovated since then. More recently (2007) it was also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.