The Fascinating Footprint of Cesar Manrique on Lanzarote

As one of the Canary Islands, situated off the northwest coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, Lanzarote is a well-established and well-liked holiday destination. Thanks to the turquoise waters, golden sand beaches and a permanently balmy climate, it is no surprise that flights to Lanzarote are packed full of sun-seeking travellers all year round.

However, this particular island is quite unique and somewhat different to its equally alluring Canary counterparts. Rather than capitalising on tourism by building more high-rise apartment blocks or hotels to accommodate increasing demand, Lanzarote has retained its natural beauty and artistic charm.

This is mainly down to one man - Cesar Manrique. Born in the capital of Arrecife, Lanzarote’s most famous son succeeded in protecting the island’s native and cultural assets, which are still evident today. So, if this sounds like your kind of destination, here are some of Lanzarote’s most appealing sights and delights, which Manrique was largely responsible for.

Mirador del Río

Manrique created this spectacular viewpoint in 1974 on a steep cliff known as Risco de Famara, It is around 475-600 metres high and looks over the strait of Rio towards the island of La Graciosa. The cafe, souvenir shop and viewing platform are all integrated in the lava rock, so as to protect the location’s intrinsic aesthetic.

Jardin de Cactus

Yet another amazing landmark that is incorporated into Lanzarote’s landscape, the Jardín de Cactus (Cactus Garden) is located toward the north of the island in Guatiza. Here, you’ll find over 10,000 different plants and arguably the world’s best collection of cacti. From the amphitheatre-like giant bowl, cut from an old quarry, to steep terraces that resemble the wall patterns of local fields, every design and construction detail has been carefully considered with the terrain in mind.

Jameos del Agua

If legendary Hollywood movie star Rita Heyworth called this landmark “the eighth wonder of the world,” you know it must be special. The Jameos del Agua is “the most beautiful nightclub in the world,” according to Manrique, who created this incredible cultural attraction in the 1960s. Climb down the stone-staircase, cross the clear water lake and find yourself in the open-air cave known as Jameo Grande, which features walls of tropical plants and an inviting, albeit out of bounds swimming pool.

Taro de Tahíche (César Manrique Foundation)

Constructed within a series of volcanic bubbles, Taro de Tahíche is one of Manrique’s former residences and now the home of his very own foundation. The imagination and ingenuity of this particular abode simply must be witnessed on a visit to Lanzarote. From volcanic staircases to built-in concrete sofas, Manrique tried to feature as many natural wonders as possible. Even though you can immerse yourself in his amazing work, a considerable modern art collection has paintings by Picasso, Miro and others as well.

Museum of International and Contemporary Art

The site of Lanzarote’s Museum of International and Contemporary Art is situated in a historic fortress dating back to 1774. But in the 1970s, Manrique convinced the island authorities to restore the Castillo de San José into a museum for art. After appreciating the paintings and sculptures on display, be sure to eat and admire the view at the museum restaurant.

Many may think that Lanzarote is a quintessential package deal destination, but thanks to Cesar Manrique, it boasts several artistic and cultural delights, which set the island apart from alternative holiday resorts.

Images by Raúl A.- and Gabriel Villena used under creative commons license.