Jorney into the World of César Manrique

For years has been the backbone of tourism in Lanzarote, also its safeguard and environmental advocate.

El Mirador del Río, Lanzarote. Foto: Flickr
El Mirador del Río, Lanzarote. Foto: Flickr
The Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote. Photo: Flickr

Hi, you will forgive me because I feel a little «corny» in this week, not in vain I will talk about a person who touches me closely, an island that still touches me closer and a material which is, for me, like a second skin. I had thought in this island as one of the options for my future construction, but the feeling didn’t let me to think with clearly so I discarded it entirely, but not before of enjoy my stay in the island (as always).

There is no other island like Lanzarote anywhere in the Atlantic, its peculiar orography and its unique climate make it a spectacular place to live, and on a better site for the summer, all year round (which is not little). However, the island had lacked of a thing that the time denied it: an architectural identity, a natural resource, an international boost. Luckily, the island did not have to move to find whom will succeed in it, he was born there, in Arrecife, and he did not stop until he achieved their goal. I, Rodolfo, not have witnessed of this event, not because I not wanted (obviously), the reason is that I arrived late, I have the luck to have whom lived in first-hand: my father (you know, I inherited his charm).

Mirador del Río, Lanzarote. Foto: trafficnews
Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote. Photo: trafficnews

The first time I landed on the island took me by the hand, before getting off the plane told me: «Son, if you do not like something on the island, I disown» because you understand that glimpsed the island with unusual excitement (not I had heard before the verb disinherit, and had no idea of ​​the consequences, but I thought it was something fun for my parent’s grimace at the word).

The first stop was the Mirador del Rio, hidden under a thick layer of volcanic rock is undoubtedly the most amazing that I have peered viewpoint. Inside, a winding road with white walls and wooden floors leads to the inside of the gazebo, to a room where two large windows lead you slightly curved outward, increasing the (smart) illusion of spaciousness. At that time, I was dazzled figures adorning metal rods and space, but it was not until years later that I learned that also prevent sound reverberation.

Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote. Foto:
Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote. Photo: Edwin Jones. Click to find out where to stay

The first spiral staircase which I liked being up there too, in the Mirador del Rio, from there you can access the terraces by a beautiful skylight fracture. I can not forget either the famous wrought-iron sculpture which represents a fish and a bird, natural symbols of water and air. The next visit was to the Jameos del Agua, at first I was some uneasiness in the caves introduce a volcanic cave, but the company and explanations of how and why, were reassuring me.

The first time I heard the name of César Manrique down the stairs of the «Jameo guy» and did not pay due attention, lost sight through the vegetation, the dance floor or wood and stone decorations in place. Then we got into the volcanic lake grotto, which struck me most was the white light given off by a hole in the top of the dome, sunlight contrasting darkness of the cave. Natural lake crossing a footbridge discover the «big Jameo» and with it, the oasis.

Jardin de cactus
Cactus Garden, Lanzarote. Photo: wikipedia. Click to find out where to stay

The first feeling you get when you discover the oasis of Manrique is of disbelief. A white pool, with a background of blue water in a sea of ​​rocks, palm trees and cactus that seem real but are (attest). That time was chosen to ask my father the artist: we will never forget. Then we visit the «Garden of Cactus,» the latest work of Manrique space, a real show of landscape integration and an example that should be studied in schools. However, these conclusions are, in part, taken on subsequent visits, of course, at that age I was not to disquisitions.

The first ocurrenciaes not enter the garden, only the name seems to drive you away, I could not believe that someone would have thought so great idea. The place was a quarry for extracting aggregates, now abandoned, the artist was determined to give the shape and dimensions which currently owns. Winding roads surrounded by gravel and cactus stands (of course), with some containing goldfish ponds, take you to two unique buildings: a store of objects and a cafe (without the latter there is no life anywhere). Somehow I do not quite envision this space fills me with peace and power.

Bodegas El Grifo, Lanzarote
Bodegas El Grifo, Lanzarote

The first tour around the island took us to many places, almost all of them had something to do with the artist, architect misnamed by many, since it never started the race and, therefore, much less could finish. We were in the Royal Palace of Mareta, built by order of King Hussein I of Jordan, which presented it to King Juan Carlos I of Spain years later, by the way, the latter maintained a good friendship with Manrique. We also visited the wineries «El Grifo», whose logo was the famous artist, but whose wines were there long before, in fact, is the oldest winery in the Canary Islands and one of the most mellow of Spain.

The first time I said goodbye to César Manrique, without having met him, I understood that I could never Separate me of it, so, in what was his home, Taro de Tahiche, which now houses the foundation César Manrique, tried to catch in my memory details of each corner is difficult because it has 30,000 square meters of land, 1,800 of living space and 1,200 square meters of gardens and terraces. Of course, it remains indelible in my retinas super masonry exterior wall covered with lime, with a colorful picture that seems to have no beginning or end.

Taro Tahiche
Taro de Tahiche, Lanzarote. Photo: holiday

Lime is extracted from Limestone or the Dolomias, each has minerals in different proportions that give them different properties. There are basically two types: air and hydraulic distinction is given the possibility to react with water or not. Limestones of Lanzarote were exported for centuries which is one of the main economic activities of the island, also used in its construction, for it «Caleras» (lime kilns) in which previously crushed stones were introduced were built. The outgoing product a great powdered lime or quicklime to be off and let stand to use.

The use of lime comes from an ancient tradition of using natural resources. More and more voices that advised by his great qualities against the cement (as far as finishing is concerned, of course). They have a great plasticity, do not retract with moisture and adapts well to deformations due to its elasticity (no cracks), it is permeable to water vapor (not water) which makes breathable (goodbye condensation) also it provides good thermal and acoustic insulation. By the way, can be used as paint, but professionals call it «enjabelgar», yes, you should perform the action once a year.

As to not want it in my future construction! It has many qualities that make you forget why the cement is used! Goodbye.

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