Lanzarote and César Manrique

César Manrique was an artist who's colourful work and lobbying helped shape modern Lanzarote.
He left a legacy of installations, public art and a philosophy that has it's heart in promoting the local ecology. He was fundamental in restricting 'high-rise' development on the island and his influence is felt everywhere, from the design of the Griffo wine label (the wine is good too!) to the incredible viewing area design at the Mirador del Rio.

Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

A good starting point to discover about the man is the César Manrique Fundacion in the centre of the island near Tahiche.
He designed and once lived in this amazing complex, now given over to his foundation which preserves and promotes his work in an intriguing museum and art gallery.
Even if modern art isn't your thing, you'll still want to take a look at his wonderful house, which is  Graceland meets the Flintstones. Over several levels there are a series of interconnecting white washed tunnels and caves with swimming pools and entertaining areas.
Who wouldn't want to live in a series of volcanic lava bubbles!

César Manrique Fundacion, Lanzarote

If you thought his house was slightly different then the Jardin de Cactus should convince you of his quirky genius and talent for celebrating life and nature. The garden contains over 7,000 different species of cacti in the walled grounds of a disused quarry. There's a windmill thrown in there, some serious cacti themed ironmongery and you won't be confused about which toilet to go in.
It makes you smile, and the backdrop of this enclosed space against the stark landscape of the Lanzarote mountains makes it feel even more special. I don't know why it works, it just does!

Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote

The Manrique conceived and designed Mirador del Rio is at the northern tip of Lanzarote and offers spectacular views of La Graciosa Island. It is a series of indoor and outdoor viewing platforms built into the top of the cliffs which fall away in an almost sheer drop to the ocean, hundreds of feet below.
Once you've experienced what feels like to be stood on the edge of the world, come back down to Earth with a fabulous seafood lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beach at Arrieta only a twenty minute drive away.

Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote

Another great place to visit is the house of Omar Sharif or at least it was his until he famously lost it in a game of cards. It was originally conceived by César Manrique and was designed by several artists and developers over the years, all keeping sympathetic to the island's natural resources and ecology. In short it is the archetypal James Bond villain's lair. Built into the volcanic cliff face on many different levels it features pools, water features, secret rooms, great views and the restaurant is excellent.

House of Omar Sharif, Lanzarote

There are many more Manrique installations all over the island, some you'll see as the centre piece of a round about for example. But hopefully this gives you a taster of what to expect and enjoy.

The last mention goes to a work in progress and you'll have to go underwater to view it.
The underwater Museum Lanzarote 'Museo Atlántico' was conceived by Jason deCaires Talyor  to promote the protection of the marine natural environment.
We haven't visited the dive site yet, but did stumble across the workshop a couple of years ago, and it was an astonishing sight.
I can imagine seeing the army of figures twelve metres under water on the ocean floor must be a spectacular experience. One day we'll scuba it!

The workshop of  the Museo Atlántico


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