The varied landscape of Lanzarote, with its jagged volcanic cones overlooking neat serried rows of vines planted in the startling black volcanic grit, and trim white washed villages surrounded by neatly tended vegetable gardens reflects the way that the inhabitants of the island have harmoniously adapted the natural environment for their own uses.
The foremost exponent of the unique beauty of the island was César Manrique, who, as artist, polymath, designer and architect played a very important role in retaining and preserving Lanzarote’s rich culture and natural beauty.
Thanks to Manrique and the movement he created in the late 1960s Lanzarote was largely spared the mass tourism developments which ravaged the Mediterranean coastline of France and Spain. The artist died in 1993, but the Foundation he created is still active today in raising environmental awareness.
The 7 Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism which Manrique and his friends designed and built throughout the island, from the volcanic tubes of the Jameos del Agua to the traditional architecture of the Casa-Museo Al Campesino celebrate the extraordinary richness of the island’s natural and manmade history. At the Museo Al Campesino a large restaurant serves the best of Lanzarote cuisine, for Manrique believed that food and its preparation is also a vital part of the island’s history and its traditions.
Today islanders still take pride in the quality of the products that they have always used - from the wide variety of species of fish caught in the seas around the island, to the excellent vegetables from the tidy allotments and fields of black volcanic gravel called picón.
A staple of Lanzarote cuisine is the delicious small potato grown on the island, which is served with mojos - sauces made from garlic, olive oil, vinegar, herbs, and a selection of spices. Gofio, a toasted and ground flour made from corn or maize is blended with stock to thicken soups and stews. Seafood and fish all kinds, from squid and octopus to mussels harvested on the rocky coast form another important element of the island’s cuisine.
The extensive vineyards of La Geria, planted in the black volcanic gravel produce some of the best white wines in the world. Sheltered from the fierce trade winds by tiny graceful curving walls made of lava, the Malvasia vine flourishes in Lanzarote’s hot dry climate, its roots questing down through metres of the cool moisture retaining picón to the mineral rich soils below. With more than 2,500 hours per year of sunlight, the wines produced here regularly win medals in competitions all over the world.
Islanders of Lanzarote take pride in the excellence of the basic ingredients from which the rich gastronomy of the island is produced.
From the delicious vegetables grown in the immaculate fields of black volcanic gravel, to the wide variety of both fish and shell fish caught in the seas off the island, the quality of Lanzarote’s cuisine comes as a surprise to many visitors.
Find out more about Lanzarote food
The huge eruptions of the 1730s, which blanketed the third of the island with thick layers of fine black gravel called locally picón was at first seen as an absolute disaster for the island. Much rich farm land was buried, and many islanders thought they faced starvation.
However, it was soon discovered that picón absorbed condensation and rain like a sponge, releasing moisture slowly and helping keep the roots of plants cool. Vines, it was quickly found, thrived in this climate.
Find out more about Lanzarote wine
César Manrique, the island’s most famous son and internationally renowned artist, designer and architect, had a passionate vision for the island and its people. Part of this passion involved harmoniously blending the natural and manmade together. His extraordinary Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism around the island combine landscape and architecture in a unique way, with volcanic lava tubes transformed into performance spaces, or lookout points built into 500 metre high cliffs with astonishing views over the beautiful Chinijo archipelago.
Find out more about César Manrique
and the Centres of Art, Culture and Tourism
The varied museums of the island cover many aspects of the island’s ancient and more recent past. These include: The Museo Agricola el Patio in Tiagua (farm museum), Casa - Museo Palacio Spinola (18th century manor house), Castillo Santa Bárbara – Museo del Emigrante Canario (museum depicting the emigration of islanders), The Fundación César Manrique in Tahiche (Manrique museum), Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo (exhibition of modern Spanish artists and Manrique), Museo del Vino El Grifo (winery and museum), Museo de Cetáceos de Canarias in Puerto Calero (whale museum).
Find out more about Lanzarote museums
Gabriel Cubas, timple & guitar teacher
"The first timple was made here, the music is slow and gentle and people say that it comes from the rhythm of a camel's walk"
Read our top 10 tips for things to see and do in Lanzarote