The mythical Garden of Hesperedes

Llano de Pino Travel Blog

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So, this was my last day. I got up to another sunny morning but, there were quite a bit of clouds that I could see. This did not bode well for a trip to the Caldera.

I got ready for my day then consulted Mona, again. She had already checked the weather and webcams and there was zero visibility, -4 Celsius, and very windy.

She suggested a trip around the northern part of the island as I could not make it that far the other day. That sounded like a good plan.

I headed north along the coastal road, stopping now and then for some amazing views near Los TIlos.

I passed through Los Sauces and was continuing north when …….another road block, and this time there was a man standing in the road with it. Ok, plan ruined again. I turned around a headed south. I stopped briefly at a panoramic lookout where I was able to see the city of Los Sauces and its place on the mountain…..a nice view.

I stopped again, near Los TIlos, at the Monument Al Jardin De La Hesperedes. This is a monument to the Garden of the Gods. Here’s a bit about the connection to Islas Canarias.

Hesiod -a Greek poet of the 8th century B.C.- wrote about the legendary Garden of Hesperydes. The story starts with Atlas.  
Atlas was a Giant, titan Japeto's son. The titans were defeated by Zeus, king of the gods, who confined them in the Tartarus -the hell.

Atlas had fought the war on his father's side. According to some opinions, Zeus condemned Atlas to support the vault of heavens upon his shoulders. Other maintain that an angry Perseus showed him Medusa's head thus converting him into a high mountain that supported the sky.

Be that as it may, Atlas had to hold up the sky beyond the Columns of Hercules -the Strait of Gibraltar. Atlas had three daughters, the Hesperydes: Egle, Eritia and Aretusa. The three lived in the most westernly land of the world, some wonderful islands in the Atlantic Ocean, a Garden of Eden where weather was always mild and where golden apples grew on the trees. Goddess Gea (Mother Earth) made sprout those apples as a wedding gift to the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera.

The Hesperydes cultivate the Garden, but a fierce dragon looked after it. It was called Ladon, and it had hundred flame-spewing heads. Hercules -also called Herakles-, the greatest hero of ancient times, had to perform twelve very difficult tasks, almost impossible to accomplish, the "Twelve Labors of Hercules". Labor number eleven consisted in stealing the Hesperydes' Golden Apples. Hercules found Atlas supporting the sky near the Ocean, in the mountains which we call today Atlas (Morocco).

 Since the Garden of Hesperydes' dragon knew Atlas, Hercules persuaded him to go to the islands and steal the apples, while he stayed as supporter of the sky in his place. Atlas went to the Garden in which he could enter since the dragon recognized him, killed the monster, stole the golden apples and returned to the place where Hercules stayed.

Atlas, tired of his task, intended to leave Hercules with the burden upon his shoulders, but the hero managed to cheat him. He passed him the burden again and fled with the apples. But they returned to the garden, since they were given to goddess Athena, who gave them back to the gardeners, the Hesperydes. Concerning Ladon, the watch-dragon killed by Atlas... it lives on in their children, the Canarian Dragon -Trees (dracaena daco). According to the legend, the blood flowing from the dragon's wounds fell all over the Garden of Hesperydes. A dragon tree sprouted from each blood drop. Dragon trees have massive trunks from which raise a bunch of twisted branches, Ladon's hundred heads. When a piece of bark or a branch are broken, the tree "bleed" a dark-red sap called "dragon-tree blood", which can be used for medical purposes. Dragon trees grow slowly, but they can live for several centuries. There is a specimen at Icod de los Vinos -Tenerife- which is called the “The Thousand-Year old Dragon Tree". The Guanches revered the places where these trees grew as specially meaningful and full of energies. 


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Llano de Pino
photo by: delsol67