Lanzarote is a beautiful medley of volcanic, lunar-esque landscapes and stunning beaches, with sands from golden and ochre to black. It was home to iconic local artist, architect and all-round creative, Cesar Manrique, whose ever-popular creations provide an incredible fusion of art and nature amid the landscape he so loved.
The Cesar Manrique ideology
Cesar Manrique attended the University of La Laguna before exploring wider Spain, where he learned to hone his creative skills as a teacher of art, and would eventually explore the United States – specifically New York. It was while in New York that he realised his dislike for city life, and yearned to return to the natural surroundings of his home island.
Cesar Manrique sought to enhance Lanzarote’s natural features, such as its volcanic formations. He was driven by a love of nature, fuelled by happy childhood memories of being on the beach. Opposing the spread of high-rise concrete was at the heart of much of Cesar Manrique’s work and his passion and determination kept heavy urbanisation at bay on Lanzarote, maintaining the island’s natural beauty.
Jameos del Agua
Jameos del Agua is arguably the most incredible creation of Cesar Manrique. Crafted from a 6 kilometre lava tube, openings within the tube formed after the roof collapsed, leaving behind fantastic, open-air caves. These caves form the attraction’s centre-piece – an idyllic pool, surrounded by volcanic walls and lush, tropical plants.
Elsewhere within the Jameos del Agua is a natural lake, home to blind, albino crabs – or ‘Jameitos’ – found only in Lanzarote. This explains the lobster and crab theme, which you’ll see in the artistic touches throughout the attraction, from the giant lobster pots used as planters decorating the walls, to the lobster-shaped door handles!
There’s also a bar/restaurant within the volcanic surroundings, but perhaps most impressive is the auditorium. A venue for classical concerts and performances, the natural acoustics, rugged cavern overhead and the careful lighting accentuating every crack and crevice makes for an incredible spectacle.
Jardín de Cactus
An amazing outdoor space, Lanzarote’s cactus garden is hard to miss. Signposted by a huge, green, metal cactus, the entrance leads visitors into a vast amphitheatre, which is home to over 10,000 cactus plants of every shape and size imaginable. Carefully designed under the artistic flare of Cesar Manrique, the attention to detail in these gardens is staggering, and really has to be seen to be believed. This part of Lanzarote is traditionally used for growing cacti, with the ideal conditions needed for the plants to thrive.
Mirador del Rio
A breathtaking example of Cesar Manrique merging large interior spaces with Lanzarote’s natural rock formations, Mirador del Rio is a stunning lookout point, from which you can see the nearby island of La Graciosa. It merges seamlessly with the surrounding rock, while inside you’ll find a café/bar and souvenir shop. From the outside you might not know the building was there! Be sure to bring your camera and snap the incredible, sweeping views from the balcony lookout point.
The Cesar Manrique Foundation
The Cesar Manrique Foundation was initially set up to allow visitors to the island to see the artist’s home. Crafted from a connection of 5 vast, volcanic bubbles that he discovered in the surrounding lava fields, the ‘building’ is an amazing display of the artistic ideologies of Cesar Manrique, combining art with nature. The sunken garden and volcanic bubble rooms are like nothing you have seen before.
A grand entrance leads you inside, where you’ll find sleek wooden features and beautiful living quarters, before seeing an impressive modern art collection upstairs, featuring works by Pablo Picasso. Most spell-binding though is the homage paid to the brilliance of the natural surrounds – there’s even a live fig-tree growing out of the floor in one of the rooms!
Even on a busy day, there’s a natural flow to the building which makes visiting here a real joy. It’s a naturally peaceful building and one which draws visitors back time and time again.