Isle of Lanzarote

About Lanzarote

Around and about the magic Isle of Lanzarote

At the Montañas del Fuego visitor centre a guide shows the awesome power packed into the ground beneath your feet by handing out tiny pieces of rock, which are so hot they cannot be held in the palm of the hand for more than a second or two.
Then he plunges a few dry twigs into a small crevice in the ground and instantly they burst into flames. Finally, he pours a glass of water into a tube in the ground, instantly creating a scalding geyser of steam and hot water that shoots several feet into the air.

Then it’s off the to the nearby restaurant, where food is barbecued over the heat generated from a shaft bored into the mountain. It’s an impressive demonstration of the immense power simmering away just a few feet below the surface.

Just as humbling is to grasp the ingenuity man has been forced to utilise to eke out a living in this hostile environment. In fields of fine picon, granules of black lava, farmers produce crops of onions, potatoes, tomatoes, grapes and melons, protecting each tender plant from the wind and the sun with a network of semi-circular stone walls.

Lanzarote´s unspoilt landscape, free from the disfiguring effects of electricity pylons, advertising hoardings and high-rise buildings, owes much to the fight to preserve the island’s unique environment by one of its own sons, the artist César Manrique.

Born in Arrecife in 1919, Manrique studied art in Madrid and New York before returning to his native island in the 1960s. The tourism boom was in its infancy and Manrique soon realised that his beloved island before long would be buried under a mass of concrete if he failed to act. He cautioned against unfettered high-rise, high-density development and passionately argued for the use of natural materials in harmony with the environment in new building.

He created some stunning visitor attractions, such as Jameos de Agua, Mirador del Rio and Jardin de Cactus, to illustrate his philosophy towards tourism development. So potent was his argument that to this day much of the development work in Lanzarote remains in a traditional style.

Sadly Manrique died in a car accident in 1992 outside his home near Tahiche. Another stunning example of his visionary creativity, the house is now the Fundacion César Manrique, showcasing his remarkable and varied talents as a designer, sculptor and artist.