The Native Period: The Menceyato of the Guanches
The Menceyato, the kingdom of the Guanches, was created as such after the death of the last king of Tenerife and the subsequent division of the island into nine sections at the end of the XIV century.
At the end of XIV or at the beginning of the XV century, the Virgen de Candelaria appeared to the Guanches in form of a figure on the coast of Güímar. They brought the Virgen de Candelaria to the “Cueva de Chinguaro”, which was the residence of the Mencey, the king of the Guanches, where she was revered. A Guanche, who had previously been captured as a small boy by Europeans and converted to Christianity, explained to the king the meaning of the figure, after which she was brought to the “Cueva de Achbinico”.
Around 1450, where Candelaria is located nowadays, three monks founded a so-called “Ermita”, also a chapel or small church, run by the monk Alfonso de Bolaños, who in turn was considered the "Apostol de Tenerife". These clerics lived among the Guanches, spoke their language and also baptized many of them. This mission lasted until almost the beginning of the Conquista, the conquest of the Canary Islands.
This activity of evangelization, as well as the conflicts that already existed between the Mencey of Güímar and the other Menceys of the island, especially that of Taoro, had in consequence that Güímar developed friendly relations with the Europeans.
In 1464, the Mencey of Güímar signed the "Paces del Bufadero" together with Diego Garcia de Herrera. Paces were peace treaties, which served around 1490 together with the Governor of Gran Canaria Pedro de Vera to mediate the new head, monk Antonio Cruzado, and after his first disembarkation in 1494 monk Alonso Fernández de Lugo, of the previously founded church of Güímar.
During the conquest, the Menceyato de Güímar was the most important kingdom, which helped the conquerors by provide auxiliary troops and food throughout the campaign. In 1497, however, Alonso Fernández captured many Guanches, both from his own and from the other side, and sold them as slaves.
After numerous complaints in “la Corte”, in today's Madrid, the Catholic kings ordered the release of the Guanches and in 1498 the governor of Gran Canaria, Lope Sánchez de Valenzuela, was transferred to Tenerife to execute the royal decrees.
Having the guarantee of their freedom, the Guanches slowly began to integrate into the new society founded by the Castilians.
Only very few of the indigenous inhabitants were able to retain pieces of their land after the new governors distributed the land of Güímar. Perhaps, this was one of the reasons why considerable groups of Guanches joined together to form indigenous centers and in consequence, places such as Guaza were able to maintain their own identity until the mid-18th century.
Conquest and European colonization: 15th and 16th centuries
Out of all the Menceyatos it was the Menceyato of Güímar, which had experienced the greatest evangelization before the European conquest. In this context, also the historical impact of the finding of the “Virgen de Candelaria”, by the Guanches, on the coast of Chimisay has to be analyzed. The Virgen de Candelaria was brought to the Palace Cave of the Mencey of Güímar, where they worshiped her for more than 50 years, becoming this cave the first temple of Mary of the island.
After 1496 and the end of military operations, the Guanches gradually integrated themselves into the new social fabric.
As mentioned above, very few of the indigenous people were able to retain pieces of their land after the new governors distributed Güímar's land. Perhaps this was one of the reasons why substantial groups of Guanches joined indigenous centers, lived almost isolated in caves and places such as “Guaza” were able to maintain their own identity until the mid-18th century.
The first population center of Güímar originated in the 16th century was the district of “San Juan” - also called “upper Güímar” - near the sources of the gorges "Barranco del Agua" and "Barranco de Chamoco" or "Barranco de Badajoz". The first buildings were connected to the sugar mill, which was led by the brothers Juan Felipe and Blasino Piombino or Romano.
The production of this area concentrated mainly on livestock, sugarcane, cereal cultivation, wine (-stock), honey, etc.
Through a progressive process of estate concentration, during which many of the first settlers disappeared, the estate of Vargas turned more and more into an immense possession.
In the mid-16th century, when these lands were acquired by Pedro Alarcón, they had larger dimensions than today's municipality of Güímar and in addition to the numerous machines and sugarcane plantations they also contained many vineyards, orchards, so-called “dry land”, which was only watered by the rain, houses, employees, etc.
The former government 17th and 18th centuries
The Valle de Güímar will begin to play a role as an important supplier of products of primary necessity and thus to supply other areas of the island, with the 17th century being especially peculiar to Puerto de la Cruz, as this place is still in its expansion/growth phase. Despite the devastation caused by the volcanic eruption of 1705, which devastated significant areas of land for crop farming, the farmers of Güímar joined forces to solve the problem and create new cropping methods to encourage economic and population growth and release Güímar of its stagnation.
The crisis in the sugar cane industry in the 17th century forced the landlords of Güimar to the peasants under different conditions. In this way, the population grew and spread from the original town center further and further towards the coast. This displacement of the population is characterized by the establishment of a small Eremita, called “San Pedro del Tanque”, next to a water depot, from which the modern temple will be created later on. Thus, the city center consolidates during this century mainly divided into the “Plaza de San Pedro” and the streets of “San Pedro Arriba” and “San Pedro Abajo”.
In the 17th century, there was a considerable population growth of the city, which is due to a period of agricultural expansion based on self-consumption farming and the internal market as well as the production of wine - “Falso Madeira” - for export. During these years, the neighborhoods of San Pedro Arriba and San Pedro Abajo were also consolidating. Furthermore, the payments of Fasnia will be delimited and will be part of Arico.
The population of the area of Agache also developed in this century, which was the reason why the first Ermita of El Escobonal was built in 1745.
Contemporary phase: 19th and 20th centuries
Already in the 19th century, Güímar had a well-established urban structure centered on an axis connecting the Plaza de San Pedro and the Dominican monastery. After the expropriation of Mendizábal in 1838, the monastery became the social policy center of the city, housing the employees of the town hall, public schools and the court. In 1854, the first public square of the village was formed right in front of the Ermita of San Pedro Abajo.
In 1858, the villages of Agache failed to detach themselves from the municipality of Güímar and to be independent. In 1911, El Escobonal voted again to delineate Güímar, but this time to connect with the municipality of Fasnia.
The milestone that crowned the city's demographic and urban growth was the award of the title “Villa”, which took place on June 28 in 1900.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the urban center of Güímar consisted basically of the following roads: “El Rincón”, “Plaza de San Pedro”, “Tafetana”, “Santo Domingo”, “Carretera Vieja”, etc. In the first half of this century, a new street, the Carretera General del Sur, consisting of today's “Avenida de Santa Cruz” and the “Avenida Pérez Caceres”, which gained a high urban importance due to its numerous offers such as inns, cinemas, etc. was built. In this context also arises the “Plaza de las Flores”.
In the second half of the 20th century Güímar begins to grow towards the neighboring village of Arafo.
On the barren soils that had been devastated by the volcano de Las Arenas, emerged first through residential caves, then through self-built houses and entire urbanizations, ocurs the probably densely populated village: Fatima, which flourished in 1945, as mayor Antonio Gómez Ramos distributed three hundred square meters of area with the intention to build houses according to the plans of Guímarero Felipe Padrón Sanabria. In 1981, the city council and its mayor, Pedro Guerra Cabrera, who dealt with the problems of land ownership, finally relinquished it to the neighbors.