canary islands I lanzarote I volcanoes and cesar manrique

Timanfaya National Park (my photo)

Timanfaya National Park (my photo)

I'll finish up my series of postings on the Canary Islands with Lanzarote - the easternmost island of the archipelago, as well as the lowest and one of the driest.  Given its relative lack of ecological diversity and (surprisingly) of large succulents, its main attraction for me was its volcanic landscapes.  Craters are scattered across the island, most notably in the moonscape of Timanfaya National Park, formed during a prolonged period of vulcanism during the mid-18th century.  

Disappointingly, very little of the National Park is accessible by foot.  A bus tour gives a good impression of the overall landscape, but none of the craters can be visited by the general public.  So, more rewarding was hiking around slightly less surreal but still dramatic craters on other parts of the island. Most interesting were those containing the remnants of agricultural terraces. This "taming" of a landscape typically thought of as inaccessible, if not treacherous, is a theme that has long captivated me (and that I also explore in my Tenerife entries).   

Isla Graciosa, just offshore from the main island (my photo).  I was disappointed not to have the chance to go, but it's a bit of an ordeal to get to, and probably not easy to get around. 

Isla Graciosa, just offshore from the main island (my photo).  I was disappointed not to have the chance to go, but it's a bit of an ordeal to get to, and probably not easy to get around. 

Volcanic craters with terracing (my photo)

Volcanic craters with terracing (my photo)

Even the most inhospitable parts of island are productive.  These arc-shaped walls protect grape vines from the wind (my photo). 

Even the most inhospitable parts of island are productive.  These arc-shaped walls protect grape vines from the wind (my photo). 

Entrance to El Mirador del Rio, an observatory (overlooking Isla Graciosa pictured above) built into lava cliffs (my photo)

Entrance to El Mirador del Rio, an observatory (overlooking Isla Graciosa pictured above) built into lava cliffs (my photo)

This integration of human agency with a seemingly inhospitable landscape manifests itself in various forms across the island, most uniquely in the work of the artist and architect Cesar Manrique.  Manrique (1919-1992) had an outsized influence on the built environment of Lanzarote, most notably through the design of a series of indoor and outdoor spaces merged seamlessly and whimsically into lava formations and other landforms.  I was fortunate to visit five of them, three of which are pictured here.  The other two - El Casa Taro de Tahiche (Manrique's home, now a museum) and Los Jameos de Agua (a series of spaces built into a partially collapsed lava tube) - I found to be the most remarkable, and will say more about them in a later post. 

Darren 

Restaurant, El Mirador del Rio (my photo)

Restaurant, El Mirador del Rio (my photo)

Artwork at entrance to El Jardin de Cactus (my photo)\

Artwork at entrance to El Jardin de Cactus (my photo)\

El Jardin de Cactus, a garden of succulents built into an old quarry (my photo)

El Jardin de Cactus, a garden of succulents built into an old quarry (my photo)

Museo LagOmar, a home (now a museum) designed by architect Jesus Soto with strong inspiration and input from Manrique (my photo).  The property was owned, for a single day until he lost it in a game of bridge, by Omar Sharif. 

Museo LagOmar, a home (now a museum) designed by architect Jesus Soto with strong inspiration and input from Manrique (my photo).  The property was owned, for a single day until he lost it in a game of bridge, by Omar Sharif. 

LagOmar (my photo)

LagOmar (my photo)

LagOmar (my photo)

LagOmar (my photo)