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"César Manrique" route in Lanzarote

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  • Jameos del Agua, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

    Jameos del Agua, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

  • Casa de las Palmeras. César Manrique museum house, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

    Casa de las Palmeras. César Manrique museum house, Haría, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

  • Cactus garden, Teguise, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

    Cactus garden, Teguise, Lanzarote © Fundación César Manrique

  • Sculpture at the César Manrique Museum-Foundation © Turespaña

    Sculpture at the César Manrique Museum-Foundation © Turespaña

  • Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote © Turespaña

    Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote © Turespaña

  

In the heart of the Earth

The island of Lanzarote is known as the island of volcanoes. If we come to this island we'll discover evidence of past volcanic activity, but which also appears now as geysers and fumaroles coming from the depths of the Earth. The interaction between man and nature has always been exemplary in Lanzarote and thanks to this the UNESCO declared the island a Biosphere Reserve.
 

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A good way to discover the cultural and natural wonders in Lanzarote is to follow the trail of one of the island's most important artists: the painter, sculptor and architect César Manrique. In 1966 he settled definitively in his home island after having developed his artistic career in Madrid and New York. He spent the last decades of his life working in the island (he died in 1992), to get visitors to respect the landscape and the cultural identity of Lanzarote.

We start the route in the village of Arrecife, the capital of the island. There, Manrique worked in San José Castle, an 18th century military fortification, to turn it into the International Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses works by artists such as Tàpies, Alechinski, Millares, Óscar Domínguez, Guerrero and Lasso, amongst others. He also fitted out the entrance to the castle and designed an open restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The town of Arrecife offers many other attractions, as well as splendid beaches and leisure activities: military architecture: San Gabriel Castle and Las Bolas Drawbridge; the Church of San Ginés and the houses of Los Arroyo and Agustín de la Hoz, the current cultural centre.

Then we'll head towards the town of Tahíche (5 kilometres away). There we'll find the "César Manrique" Foundation building, where the artist used to live (Taro de Tahíche), built in a natural area with five volcanic bubbles. It also has a Museum that exhibits some of the works by Manrique.

After visiting the traditional architecture and the corners of the village of Teguise (about 5 kilometres from Tahíche), we can turn off towards Guatiza, a village situated 8 kilometres away, where Manrique designed the Cactus Garden, his last intervention on the island. It is a botanical garden dedicated exclusively to cactus species from all over the world.

In the municipality of Haría, we have the chance to discover another example of Manrique's aim to combine culture and nature. Here he made the most of a wide tunnel caused by a volcanic eruption to create attractive cultural spaces, closely connected with nature. For example, in the part of the tunnel that is closest to the coast he created the Los Jameos del Agua Art and Culture Centre, where as well as a natural lake we'll find a spectacular auditorium that makes use of the inside of a volcanic cave. On the other hand, as part of this vast tunnel we must highlight the Los Verdes Cave, which has a kilometre of galleries that are fitted out for visitors.

It is interesting to travel through this landscape calmly before continuing on the route that takes us to the town of Famara, where we'll be able to enjoy excellent views of the Atlantic Ocean and of the Chinijo archipelago from the Mirador del Río viewpoint, designed by the artist.

If we return to the geographical centre of the island, to the town of Mozaga, we'll be able to admire the work that the author made in honour of traditional agriculture in Lanzarote. It is a large sculpture with a group of buildings around it, currently transformed into the House-Museum Monument to farm workers.

We mustn't end our trip round the island without going to the Timanfaya Nacional Park, situated in the west of Lanzarote. It is a vast natural area designed by the volcanic activity. The last time it was really active was between 1730 and 1734. It currently has 25 volcanoes, some of them emblematic such as Montaña del Fuego, with certain dormant volcanic activity: in some places the temperatures on the surface go over 100ºC.

There César Manrique designed a carvery for a specialised Canary Islands restaurant, which uses geothermic and magmatic energy as the oven: it is installed over a crack in the ground, directly above the volcanic heat that lies in the heart of Lanzarote.
 

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