When it rains in Tenerife visit The Museum of Nature and Man in Santa Cruz

The place to go to find out about the Guanches

If you are interested in the Guanches, who were the people who lived in the Canary Islands before the Spanish conquest, then the Museum of Nature and Man, or the Museo de la Naturaleza y El Hombre, as it is called in Spanish, is the place to go. It is also an excellent place to visit if it is raining and you are looking for something to do.

This large museum, which is located in Tenerife's capital of Santa Cruz, has a section devoted to these mysterious people and it contains many Guanche mummies, as well as skulls, bones and even mummified internal organs. There is a large collection of Guanche tools, pottery and the beads they used to wear, and an engraved stone that was discovered.

There is a display that explains about the Guanche practice of trepanation in which a hole was bored in the skull. There is also an X-ray scan of the chest and stomach of a Guanche mummy.

The collection of skulls is quite spooky, as are the mummies that lie in glass display cases. One of the skulls has the number 66 and if you add another six you have the number of the Great Beast of the Bible's Book of Revelations!

Museum photos

Manta Ray
Manta Ray
Giant Rat
Giant Rat
Horseshoe Crab
Horseshoe Crab
Head of a Guanche mummy
Head of a Guanche mummy
Guanche skull
Guanche skull
Guanche mummies
Guanche mummies

Natural History and Marine Biology

The Museum of Nature and Man was created by combining the Natural Sciences Museum and the Tenerife Museum of Archaeology that had been set up in the 1950s along with the Canary Island Institute of Bio-anthropology.

Besides the archaeology section, with a large part of it devoted to the Guanches, there are areas that are all about the Natural History of the Canary Islands.

There is a Marine Biology display with impressive life-size models such as a gigantic Manta Ray and another of a Leatherback Turtle.

There is a collection of dried specimens of insects found on Tenerife, and in it you will see some of the species of ground beetles found on the island as well as dragonflies and butterflies and moths.

There is also a well illustrated display about the wild plants found on the islands with information about famous botanists and naturalists, such as Humboldt and Berthelot, who came to study the flora and fauna.

If you want to identify a species of plant or animal you have found on Tenerife then this is an ideal place for doing so.

Birds, reptiles and mammals of the Canary Islands are displayed, and exhibits include the extinct Giant Rat and Giant Lizard.

There is a section given over to geology too that shows many forms of rock, minerals and crystals.

Another section shows the different habitats and the biodiversity the islands varied environments provide.

Modern video display screens and a sound system, lighting and an avant-garde almost sci-fi look to a lot of the place contrasts visually with the historical exhibits on show.

The museum provides guided tours if you book up in advance. For general information the number is 922 20 93 20. Access for disabled people is provided.

Groups can be catered for if there are between 10 and 30 people and such groups can visit the museum between Tuesdays and Saturdays if they book up in advance.

It is open Tuesdays to Sundays inclusive from 9am to 7pm, and closed on 24, 25 and 31 December and 6 January.

There is free admission on Sundays and holders of a TITSA Bonobus travel pass are entitled to 50% discount.

Information is translated into German, English and French and there are educational classrooms for pupils who speak Spanish or English to use.

There is a shop selling books, gifts and souvenirs, a multi-purpose hall for events and lectures and a restaurant.

The Museum of Nature and Man is easy to find and is situated in the Fuente Morales street, only a few minutes walk from the main Plaza de España and the Bus Station. It is housed in a historic building which was previously the Civil Hospital.

The nearest underground car parks are in the Plaza de España, in the Nuestra Señora de Africa Market and the Calle Ramon y Cajal.

The Museum of Nature and Man makes for a very interesting and educational experience and is an ideal for a day on which the weather is bad or if you simply feel like something a bit different.

Where is Santa Cruz?

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