Dry, fiery and dramatic: the landscapes of the Spanish island of Lanzarote are like no other. Born through volcanic eruptions millennia ago, the northernmost of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa has since been sculpted by the hands of Mother Nature. Today, the island is home to beautiful beaches as well as stunning volcanic caves and formations.
But amidst the grey volcanic ash and lime-green lagoons of Lanzarote, I’m surprised to find the presence of art. Not just any art, but an immaculate immersion of abstract art in nature.
It’s the creation of César Manrique, an iconic architect, sculptor and artist who is said to have ‘made’ Lanzarote.
The Father of Lanzarote
Manrique was born and raised in Lanzarote, but his love for abstract art only intensified in Madrid and New York, where his talent flourished.
“When I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the more beautiful places in the planet.”
He lived up to his words: It is impossible now to imagine Lanzarote without César Manrique. He sculpted the island with his artistic style, giving it a strong identity and character. Today’s Lanzarote sports striking landmarks that display his unique flair: from the stunning grotto of the Jameos del Agua to the viewpoint, Mirador del Rio.
Jameos del Agua was originally a grotto, but has now been transformed into a modern museum. Resembling a contemporary art gallery set within a jungle, Jameos del Agua has an oasis-like setting featuring luscious palms, abstract paintings, white-washed tunnels and open-roofed patios.
On the high escarpment of Batería del Río stands the Mirador del Río overlook, which offers some of the best views on the island. César’s style is on full display here: the mirador features a balustraded café with a minimalist design, and a platform that has been integrated into the lava rocks above.
César’s desire to live with the volcanic lava led him to build his own house in the Taro de Tahiche, which has been converted into the César Manrique Foundation. Here, you’ll find yourself walking into an oasis in the center of a river of petrified bluish-black lava. This is the best place to find out more about Lanzarote and Manrique.
These attractions are just a short drive away from most Lanzarote hotels. Most also organize day trips to these museums.
Photo | Nellie Huang