The island of Lanzarote and the volcanic world of Spain (Canary Islands)
Lanzarote is a Spanish island off the coast of North Africa. It is a real volcanic world. On the island of Lanzarote you will see deserted fields formed by volcanic ash, or one of the world’s best restaurants powered by geothermal energy.
Don’t forget to visit the bizarre cave system decorated by the artist who was friends with Andy Warhol. If you find yourself in the Canary Islands, be sure to visit the island of Lanzarote.
On the island you can find black beaches on the background of Martian landscapes. But they are not so many
Where is it
Lanzarote is the easternmost island of the Canary archipelago. Only 130 km away from the island lies the coast of Africa and the western part of the legendary Sahara Desert.
Geographical coordinates (29.014202, -13.650654)
The island stretches from southwest to northeast for about 60 km. The width of the island reaches 20 km.
Landmarks of Lanzarote
Although the island lies in a tropical climate belt, it cannot boast lush tropical vegetation. Moreover, the island is more like a desert. However, this does not stop it from impressing you with its attractions.
Parque Nacional de Timanfaya
The park actually looks more like Mars.
The park is located in the southwest part of Lanzarote. Timanfaya is characterized by rugged, rocky landscapes that were formed by a series of violent volcanic eruptions. So in fact, here you will be surrounded by the most real Martian landscapes.
You can ride camels through rugged treeless terrain and watch small geysers erupt. The brilliant blue water of the Atlantic Ocean can be seen from almost anywhere in the Park.
The Montañas del Fuego Mountains (also called the Fiery Mountains) have many partially collapsed volcanic cones. It should be noted that the places here are quite unreal, so do not forget that you are still on planet Earth.
El Diablo Restaurant, located in the heart of the Tierra Mountains, serves food cooked in an oven using geothermal heat. Visitors to El Diablo can watch steam erupt from several volcanic calderas around them while they dine.
Vineyards of Lanzarote
There are quite a few of these vineyards in Lanzarote.
The island of Lanzarote is home to a unique wine region called La Geria. It is here where the grapes are grown directly on the volcanic ash. Each vine is protected by a semicircular stone wall.
La Geria grows the ancient variety of grapes Malvasia. Malvasia is known for being added to Madeira’s famous fortified wine.
César Manrique is an artist as a landmark
Cesar Manrique. 1990
The most famous resident of Lanzarote was an artist named César Manrique. He was born and raised in Lanzarote and loved the striking and varied landscapes of the island.
After a stay in New York in the 1960s, Cesar returned to his native island and carried out several creative projects. For example, an interesting installation in a cave system with stone steps, neon lights and tiered plants.
One of Cesar Manrique’s works
All of César Manrique’s artworks created in Lanzarote are related to nature and highlight the beauty of the island.
Mirador del Rio
Many visitors consider Mirador del Rio one of the most picturesque places on the island of Lanzarote. It is an observation deck that rises to a height of more than 470 meters. It was conceived by Cesar Manrique. But Jesus Soto and Eduardo Caceres built it.
The observation deck is almost completely enclosed in volcanic rock, making it almost invisible from a distance.
There’s a small café and a stunning view of several nearby islands. And the view of the infinitely blue Atlantic Ocean punctuated by rocky islands dotted with dormant volcanoes always leaves visitors in awe.
The panoramic windows of the restaurant on the observation deck of the Mirador del Rio overlook the island of La Graciosa.
Lagomar is an amazing combination of ancient caves and modern architecture
Lagomar is not exactly an ordinary museum. Or rather, it is not just a museum. It is also a hotel, a restaurant and just an amazing place.
Conceived by César Manrique and designed by Jesús Soto, it was built in a quarry with natural tunnels and caves. It is a veritable labyrinth to explore.
Interesting fact – In the 70’s famous Egyptian actor Omar Sharif came to Lanzarote while filming the movie “The Mysterious Island”. He was so impressed with Lagomar that he just … bought it. But that’s not all. It is said that Omar was an avid gambler, and later managed to lose Lagomar in cards of the British Sam Bernadi
In the 1990s, Lagomar was refined by architects from Germany and Uruguay. They added more plants, reclaimed wooden beams, and many other objects.
It’s a real cactus sanctuary.
The Cactus Garden in Lanzarote is one of the main attractions of the island. Once again, César Manrique had his hands in its creation. He was able to turn the old quarry into a beautiful botanical garden full of cacti. There are now more than 4,500 cacti from around the world (that’s as many as 450 species).
The garden fits perfectly into the shape of the quarry. And thanks to the structure, the cacti are protected from the strong winds that sometimes blow over Lanzarote.
Jameos del Agua
Jameos del Agua, a cave with a restaurant, swimming pool and auditorium
Located in the north of the island, the unique place Jameos del Agua is the remains of a volcanic lava tube.
The La Corona volcano erupted 4,000 years ago and formed a 6-kilometer lava tube. Over time, some sections of the tube collapsed, creating openings called “Jameos.” The site was also transformed by César Manrique.
In the sixties, three of these caves and part of the remaining tube were added with gardens, a swimming pool, a museum, an auditorium and a restaurant. In addition, you will see here a salt lake with small white crabs.
Cesar Manrique House Museum
Cesar Manrique House Museum
The museum is located in the northern town of Aria in Palm Grove. César Manrique lived here until his death in 1992.
Today it is a museum where the furniture and all the objects are preserved as they were during the artist’s life. You can enter his studio and see how he worked. However, the house is less remarkable than what César created.
Lanzarote is the fourth largest island of the Canary archipelago. Its area is 836 km², and its population is 86 thousand people. Lanzarote is an amazing place that symbolizes the triumph of civilization over a hostile environment. The island has been declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Lanzarote is particularly rich in traces of volcanic activity, as eruptions in 1730-1736 and 1824 caused towns and villages to be buried under lava flows. Most of all the island, which is 60 km long and 20 km wide, resembles the lunar surface. Lanzarote has more than 300 volcanoes, but on the black ash onions, potatoes, tomatoes, melons and grapes grow beautifully. But the most unusual product of the island is cochineal, a natural red dye that is used in the making of camparis and lipstick. Tourists discovered the island later than Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Lanzarote has learned from the problems of neighboring islands. On the small, beautiful island, environmental stewardship is paramount.
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South of Lanzarote.
Arrecife, the main port and capital of the island of Lanzarote, is not particularly beautiful, despite a redevelopment in the late 1990s. There are only two historical sites here. The first is the 16th century San Gabriel Castle (open: Fri 10:00-13:00, 16:00-19:00, admission free), located near the center of the town. In the castle there is a small archaeological museum, which is not of particular interest. But it is still interesting to walk around the suspension bridge and fortifications. The castle was built to protect the island from pirates.
San Jose Castle, built a few kilometers to the north, is much more attractive. The castle was built in the 18th century to protect the port and is perfectly preserved. Today the fortress houses the small but very interesting Museum of Modern Art created by César Manrique (open: daily 11.00-21.00, admission paid, bar and restaurant open 11.00-24.00). The museum houses works by Picasso and Miró, as well as by Manrique himself. The contrast between the modern exhibits and the ancient walls of the fortress is impressive.
The main resort of Lanzarote, Puerto del Carmen, is about 10 km south of Arrecife. The long beach of golden sand stretches for 5 km and is very convenient for tourists. The sea is shallow and ideal for children. A variety of bars, stores and restaurants are concentrated on Avenida de las Playas, the main shopping street of the island.
The old town is to the west of the beach. A beautiful small port with traditional bars and restaurants has been preserved here. There are pleasure boats departing from the port, including glass-bottomed catamarans and boats that can take you on sea fishing trips.
At the next intersection, turn left onto Puerto Caillero. The main attraction here is a modern yacht club with good restaurants. The town is built up with expensive apartment complexes. From here you can take boat trips and submarine rides, including an excursion to Papagayo.
The main road to the west passes through the picturesque town of Jaisa. The brightly colored houses are adorned with even brighter colors. In this town there is a farm, which Man-rique turned into the famous restaurant “La Era”. Between the towns of Uga and Yaisa is the entrance to Timanfaya National Park (open: daily 9.00-17.45, entrance fee, stops at 17.00). The park covers a region called Montañas de Fuego (Mountains of Fire). Just north of Jaisa is a place called Ejadero de los Camellos (open: daily 9.00-16.00), where you can go to the volcanic slopes of Timanfaya on camelback. This region was formed by a series of eruptions in the 1930s, when volcanic activity persisted for six years. Eleven towns were then buried forever.
Head on and turn left to Montañas del Fuego. Familiarity with the mountains of Lanzarote leaves no doubt that at least one of these volcanoes (the one you are standing on) is still not dormant, but just sleeping. At a depth of less than 10 meters the temperature reaches 600 ° C, and on the surface in some places – 120 ° C. The guide will demonstrate this to you in the most obvious way. In the local restaurant Isolote de Hilario, meat is roasted using the heat of the earth – a kind of natural barbecue.
It is forbidden to enter the park by car. To see the unusual scenery, you must take a special bus. The badlands you saw on the way to the national park are just an appetizer before the main course. There is only one word to describe this landscape: “lunar. Without coming here, it’s impossible to imagine what awaits you here. The last time the local volcanoes woke up in 1824, the period of volcanic activity lasted ten years.
The most impressive example of dry enarendo cultivation is the vineyards in the valley of La Jería. Each vine is planted in a miniature crater. A semi-circular wall of lava stones protects the plant from the wind and scorching sun (so do other plants). Horseshoe-shaped defenses cover the entire plain and rise up the slopes of the mountains, going to infinity.
The Heria Valley is home to several wineries (bodegas) where you can taste the excellent local malvasia. Just beyond San Bartolomé is the El Grifo Wine Museum (open: daily 10.30-18.00, free admission; www.elgrifo.com), which has a library of old books. In front of the entrance to the oldest bodega in the Canaries is a monument to Manrique. Wine has been made here since the 18th century. You can learn about the wine-making process, walk through the vineyards and taste the local produce. San Bartolomé is also home to the Tanit Ethnographic Museum (open: Mon-Fri 10.00-14.00, www.museotanit.com), which tells the story of the island’s past.
The geographic center of Lanzarote is not far from San Bartolomé. Here Manrique erected a stark white sculpture “Monument to the Peasants”. Also of interest is the Peasant’s House Museum (open: daily 10.00-18.00, admission free), where there is a restaurant with traditional Canarian cuisine.
Return to the main road and head west, past Yaisa. Turn right into the fishing village of El Golfo. Beneath the rock, which resembles a petrified giant wave, stretches an emerald green lagoon. This is the inner edge of a volcanic cone, half of which is hidden by the sea. El Golfo is a place of stunning beauty. It is impossible to drive up there from the main road. You must leave your car in the parking lot where you can go down a steep path to the village. El Golfo is famous for its excellent fish restaurants.
Continue south to the natural lagoon of Hanubio and the salt flats of Las Salinas de Hanubio. The coarse salt mined here is used in Arrecife for canning fish. Today the need for salt has diminished markedly, but mining has not ceased. Local artists paint the salt in different colors and use it for street paintings in honor of the Corpus Christi holiday in Arrecife.
The modern resort of Playa Blanca on the south coast is Lanzarote’s third largest tourist center. There is a ferry to Fuerteventura from here (travel time 40 min). There is a small port, a nice beach with golden sand and many hotels and restaurants. Just a few kilometers to the east are the best beaches on the island. Three beaches are called Playas de Papagayo (Parrot Beaches). The road is good at first, but soon becomes very rough and rocky. There are no facilities on the beaches, so you have to take everything with you. However, you do not need much, as it is common here to swim naked. Go to the beaches by boat, which delivers holidaymakers in the morning and takes them away in the afternoon. A round trip from Puerto Calero can be arranged.
North of Lanzarote
On the island of Lanzarote, whose destiny depended to a large extent on the work and creativity of one man, it is essential to visit the César Manrique Foundation (open: Mon-Sat 10.00-18.00, 10.00-15.00, entrance fee) in Taicha, about 12 km northwest of Arrecife. Manrique lived here, and his house, as you might expect, looks rather unusual. The house was built in 1968 on a lava flow that formed after eruptions in the 1730s. Five volcanic bubbles formed at the bottom of the flow, where the artist made his dwelling.
Take a trip to La Santo, home to the timeshare resort Club La Santa. World-class athletes come here to train and rest. There are all conditions for practicing almost all kinds of sports. The windswept seashore overlooks the picturesque cliffs of the Famara massif, where the Del Rio observation deck is located, and the island of Graciosa. The beaches are good for windsurfing, but the currents are quite dangerous, so it’s best to be careful.
We can take another route: from the Manrique sculpture “Monument to the Peasants” northward to Teguise. This pretty town with its narrow streets and elegant mansions was the capital of the island until 1852. The 15th-century Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe parish church is the oldest on Lanzarote. Opposite it is the 16th century convent of San Francisco, which now houses a modern art gallery. On Sundays, there is a handicraft market where you can buy a timple, a small folk musical instrument similar to the ukulele, among other things. Several old buildings have been converted into antique stores and restaurants. On top of the ancient Montaña de Guanapay volcano is the 16th-century Santa Barbara Fortress and Museum, a breathtaking view from this windswept summit you won’t regret the effort. Today the fortress houses the Ethnographic Museum of Canary Immigrants (open: Mon-Fri 9.00-16.00, Sat, Sat 10.00-15.00, admission paid). Yellowed photographs tell the history of the mass emigration to South America, at one time the only way for many Canarian families to survive.
From here you can go to the coast, to Costa Teguise, about 10 km north of Arrecife. It is a modern resort, where expensive hotels and apartment complexes are adjacent to apartments rented on a timeshare basis. The original construction of the resort was led by Manrique, the later buildings are not so refined taste. The resort has a lot of excellent sandy beaches. Water sports and windsurfing are best enjoyed on Playa de las Cucharas. Here is a world-class golf course and water park “Ocean”, 2 km from the coast (open: daily 10.00-18.00, entrance fee).
The road to the east coast of Lanzarote goes through the town of Guatissa, where cacti are grown and where the beetles that produce cotenol are still bred. Cesar Manrique has created here a huge Cactus Garden (open: daily 10.00-18.00; entrance fee). The garden has a working windmill that produces its own gofio. Manrique’s work can be appreciated in the caves of Jameos del Agua (open: daily 9.30-19.00, Tues, Fri-Sat also 19.00-2.00 (for concerts); admission paid). The caves opened in 1966 and were Manrique’s first significant work. He turned a visit to the cave with the underground lake into a fantastic journey. The descent into the cave is accompanied by ethereal music. Everywhere are installed unusual plants with lush foliage. Going down to the black lagoon, you can see very rare blind albino crabs Munidopsis polymorpha. Don’t throw coins into the crystal-clear water – metal corrosion kills the crabs. From the cave you enter a true paradise of the southern seas – with a swimming pool and scenic terraces.
You can learn about the history of volcanoes in the local museum “Volcano House” (open: Mon-Fri 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). There is also a restaurant and bar.
The Cueva de los Verdes (open: daily 10.00-18.00, entrance fee) is behind the main road and is part of the same system. It was formed by exploded lava. You can take a tour of the cave. Sound and light effects remind you of the time when the volcano was active here.
On the northern tip of Lanzarote is the small fishing village of Oreola, where the ferry Lineas Maritimas Romero leaves for the tiny island of Isla Graciosa. The island has beautiful beaches and virtually no tourist development. It’s a great place to spend a whole day.
To admire Isla Graciosa from the beret, go to the mirador del Rio (open: daily 10.00-18.00). The observation gallery carved into the rock is another stunning creation by César Manrique. It is perhaps the most impressive mirador in the Canary Islands. Mighty cliffs slope down to the beach, and beyond the strip of water called El Rio (the river), you can see the island of
Graciosa and two small islets, Montaña Clara and Alegranza. These islands, together with a small section of the northwestern coast of Lanzarote, form the Chinijo Archipelago National Park. Complete silence reigns here, with only the wind whistling over El Rio. In addition to the shaped windows of the mirador gallery, you can see Manrique sculptures in the bar and restaurant.
To get to know the local flora, ride donkeys, and play with pets, you can visit the magnificent gardens of Las Pardelas Recreational Natural Park (open: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., admission paid; tours: Tel: 928-842-545), which is near Gumnate, just south of the mirador del Rio (Oreola-Ye road, 1 km).