Where better to put a free visitors centre devoted to volcanic eruptions than Santiago del Teide, the west coast town close to the path of Tenerife’s last big eruption in 1909? The flow stopped just short of Chinyero and several walking routes through the lava fields can be accessed from here.
Volcanic rubble crunched beneath my feet in the first of the display rooms as a large video screen outlined the main events surrounding the 10 day explosion that was felt on other nearby Canary Islands. I was given a choice of languages for the video, all information at the centre is in English, Spanish, German, and Russian. Although the rocky floor was designed to induce sensations of that volcanic era, I noticed there was a wide wheelchair track around the room, this was also common to the entire centre.
Emerging through the curtain into the two lane main display area I could see a lot of thought had gone into the layout with display boards and more video screens and even a static model of Tenerife with the main cones prominent. I had read quite a lot about the famous eruption but was impressed with the depth of information as I worked my way around the exhibits. Details like the 600 metre crack that unleashed enough lava to cover 200 football pitches, and the 16 metre an hour flow gave me some idea of how frightening it must have been.
Putting the whole thing in context the exhibition uses first hand accounts from news reports and telegrams sent between the worried neighbouring councils. Photos taken as the drama unfolded and samples of the different types of rock involved all played their part.
There was more about the wider picture of volcanic activity in the Canary Islands with film of the 1971 mini eruption in La Palma. Touch screens made sure that a thirst for more details could be directed to specific topics such as the cultural background, practical problems like transport caused by the flow, and how locals responded. As well as fear, some were enterprising enough to organise trips to the edge of the activity.
All this is enough to give anyone a desire to see the main areas for themselves. Next door to the volcanic displays there is a smaller hall dedicated to the local walking routes such as the trek to Arguayo that passes by the shrine in Chinyero marking the spot where the lave stopped short of the statue of the virgin that was wheeled out from the church. The annual almond blossom walk and several other routes begin just up the road at the rear of the town hall. Some visitors may be inspired to visit Cueva del Viento above Icod de Los Vinos to delve into the volcanic tubes from thousands of years earlier.
Walkers regularly pass through Santiago del Teide on their way to Masca, Los Gigantes, and all points north, this welcome addition gives them another good excuse to linger a while in a proud and beautiful town.
Category : about tenerife
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