César Manrique, artist, sculptor, architect and activist, may not be as well-known as some of his contemporaries (during his stint in New York in the 1960s his circle included Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol) but his work is credited with an arguably greater legacy: that of keeping his native Lanzarote free of destructive mass tourism.
A passionate advocate of honouring nature, he has left an indelible footprint on the island. During the 70s and 80s, his passion to protect the home he loved so much led to him working closely with the island’s tourism authorities to create magical attractions. Here are six of the best places to see some of Manrique’s most impressive projects.
Cesar Manrique Foundation
Taro de Tahiche – C/ Jorge Luis Borges, 16 35507 Tahiche, Lanzarote
Living here from 1968 – 1988, the Foundation is now a homage to the artist’s work; flooded with light that pours in via huge windows built into volcanic rock. Curves and texture honour the building’s natural habitat, whilst brilliant white terraces full of cacti and palms mark a stark contrast with the black volcanic rock beyond. Inter-connecting tunnels wind through rooms built into natural volcanic bubbles, each decked out with mid-century furniture. Retro and a little bit sci-fi, this former home is utterly unique.
Mirador del Río Viewpoint
35541 Haría, Las Palmas, Lanzarote
Manrique was frequently quoted as saying the best painting is nature. It’s hard to find anything that embodies that ethos more than this lookout point, on the northernmost part of Lanzarote. Sitting 400 metres above ground, you’ll be treated to a bird’s eye view over one of the most beautiful panoramas on the island — out over the Atlantic Ocean and across to one of the oldest salt mines.
Jameos del Agua caves
Jameos del Agua, Carretera Arrieta-Órzola, S/N, 35542, Lanzarote
It’s easy to imagine the parties hosted here in the 1970s, and whilst its heyday may be confined to history, its legacy lives on. This is a cave system that’s home to one of the world’s most unique restaurants, built into a volcanic tube, with a striking backdrop carved from rugged black basalt. Stroll through the venue before settling down to dine, past bar seats built into the rocks, a brilliant turquoise pool and statement palms.
Jardin de Cactus
Carretera General del Norte, s/n, 35530 Guatiza, Lanzarote
A crucible of cacti, some native, others brought in from afar, this is a vast garden, home to over 450 species of cactus. This is a striking example of Manrique’s work; a sun-trap making its mark on the arid landscape. Various elevations allow for an evocative experience — it’s an amphitheatre of nature and an almost other-worldly experience, softened by calming water features.
César Manrique House Museum
Calle Elvira Sánchez, 30, 35520 Haría, Las Palmas, Lanzarote
A characteristic subterranean hideaway, many describe Manrique’s home as being like that of a classic Bond villain. This is where Manrique lived up until his untimely death in 1992, and it’s been preserved ever since. Expect his signature style of architectural curves carved out of volcanic rock but with all the comforts of home — bubble chairs, eclectic sculpture and zany art. You can also visit his old studio, still full of unfinished work.
El Diablo Restaurant
Montaña del Fuego Carretera General Yaisa- Tinajo, s/n, 35560 Tinajo, Lanzarote
This is a typically bold lookout designed in partnership with artist Jesús Soto and architect Eduardo Cáceres. Book a table for sunset and look out over a backdrop of burnt ochre views; land born of violent volcanic eruptions in the 1730s. The kitchen serves local specialities cooked by geothermal blasts from the earth beneath you. Sound crazy? It is, but in a very cool way.
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