So you have arrived on the Spanish island of Lanzarote and are wondering who sprinkled it with creative magic – look no further than César Manrique.
In this post, you will discover the eleven best places to see Manrique’s work in Lanzarote, from the incredible viewpoint of Mirador del Rio to the magical botanical Jardin de Cactus.
Who was César Manrique ?
Born in Arrecife in 1919, he was a local hero, a multi-talented artist, sculptor, architect, and environmentalist all rolled into one.
César Manrique wasn’t just about painting on a canvas, far from it. He was on a mission to transform his beloved island into a work of art. He championed sustainable development; his influence is everywhere, from architecture to landscape design.
From barren landscapes and volcanic bubbles, Manrique himself had a vision. He believed that development shouldn’t bulldoze over nature but complement it. He fought against high-rises and instead focused on blending structures with the island’s natural beauty and became Lanzarote’s guardian angel.
Manrique soaked up inspiration for his creativity from his travels to New York City and Paris in the 60s. The surrealism of Salvador Dali, the architecture of Antoni Gaudí, and the avant-garde movements of the mid-20th century all shaped Manrique’s unique vision. The result is a superb blend of art and environment that can be seen in Lanzarote and across the Canary Islands.
The 11 best César Manrique attractions in Lanzarote
#1 Cueva de los Verdes – open to the public since 1964
Cueva de los Verdes is a remarkable natural cave system located in Lanzarote. Formed by volcanic activity over 3,000 years ago, the cave system stretches for about 6 kilometres, making it one of the longest volcanic tunnels in the world. The caves were created by lava flows from the nearby La Corona volcano.
Cueva de los Verdes is particularly fascinating because of its intricate formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and other volcanic features. Guided tours lead visitors through this subterranean wonder, providing insights into the geological history of the island and the unique formations within the cave.
Cueva de los Verdes offers a captivating and educational experience, showcasing the raw beauty of Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape.
#2 Jameos del Agua – open to the public since 1966
Jameos del Agua is a mesmerizing natural wonder turned into a unique cultural and recreational space.
The highlight is an underground lake, home to a rare species of blind albino crabs. Above ground, lush gardens and an ornamental swimming pool seamlessly blend with the volcanic landscape. It’s an oasis of greenery contrasting the stark beauty of the subterranean world.
An auditorium where concerts and performances are held and a restaurant/nightclub are all surrounded by the cave’s natural formations, creating a surreal backdrop.
Why not visit some of the places mentioned in this blog post on a César Manrique Day Tour?
#3 Monumento al Campesina – open to the public since 1968
Dedicated to fertility and the island’s farming community, this monument integrates art into everyday life. Steps take you up the 15-metre-high statue for views of the countryside. Adjacent to the statue is La Casa-Museo del Campesino, showcasing life in Lanzarote, from farming to local cuisine.
#4 El Diablo de las Montañas del Fuego – open to the public since 1970
Described in 2023 by National Geographic as one of the most impressive restaurants in the world, El Diablo restaurant, nestled deep in the Timanfaya National Park, is one of César Manrique’s greatest achievements. Creating a circular restaurant with 360-degree views of the volcanic lunar landscape was genius.
Dining at the restaurant is unique as your meat is cooked above the heat generated by Montaña de Timanfaya, Lanzarote’s dormant but not extinct volcano!
#5 Mirador del Rio – open to the public since 1973
Mirador del Río is a breathtaking viewpoint located on the northern cliffs of Lanzarote. This architectural marvel is skillfully integrated into the landscape, enhancing rather than dominating the natural beauty. From Mirador del Río, visitors are treated to panoramic views of the neighbouring island of La Graciosa and the surrounding Atlantic Ocean.
Why not book a tour to see César Manrique’s work in the north of the island?
#6 Jardin de Cactus – open to the public since 1990
See the final project César Manrique completed before his death. Manrique turned a former quarry into a cactus paradise, showcasing nature’s resilience against the harsh volcanic backdrop.
You can read about the cactus garden in my post – Jardin de Cactus: more than just a prickly pear.
Other lesser-known places in Lanzarote designed by César Manrique
#7 LagOmar: This cave house in the village of Nazaret was once owned by Omar Sharif and lost in a game of cards. Manrique was subsequently involved in the design of the beautiful oasis we see today.
Please read more here about LagOmar Volcanic Cave House Museum.
#8 Volcano House Museum: part of the César Manrique Foundation; this was the artist’s home for 20 years. Located inside lava tubes in Tahiche, the surreal design of the Volcano House showcases Manrique’s unique style. If you want to get inside a visionary’s head, this is one place you won’t want to miss.
#9 Taro de Tahiche: While not as famous as some of his other projects, this was Manrique’s own residence. The artist transformed this traditional Canarian house into a harmonious blend of art and architecture. He lived here after the Volcano House until he died in 1992.
#10 International Museum of Contemporary Art: Housed in an 18th-century fortress, this museum showcases contemporary art. Manrique’s touch is evident in the museum’s design and overall aesthetic. Inside the museum, a restaurant offers stunning views of Arrecife Bay via the semi-circular glass construction of the building.
#11 Roundabouts: Lanzarote’s many roundabouts feature sculptures and art installations, often in the form of wind toys designed by Manrique.
Cesar Manrique’s impact on Lanzarote is immeasurable. His projects seamlessly fuse art, architecture, and nature, creating a harmonious balance that helps the island’s tourism by continually drawing visitors from around the world. His legacy lives on, not just in the landmarks he crafted but in the very spirit of Lanzarote itself.
Please PIN for Future Travel to Lanzarote
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