The alternative guide to César Manrique’s Lanzarote

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Anyone who has visited Lanzarote can’t have failed to encounter the legacy of artist and architect César Manrique Whether you’ve set out to visit one of his astonishing art and culture centres or simply appreciated the lack of over-development and attractive, white-washed buildings, we owe a lot to the island’s most famous son.

Manrique was ahead of his time and widely recognised as the pioneer of eco-tourism in Lanzarote. It’s thanks to his work with the local authorities in the 1960s that the natural heritage of the island has been carefully preserved and protected ever since.

He was born in Arrecife on 24 April 1919. His career began in Madrid in 1945, where he studied at the Art School of San Fernando. He spent a brief time living and working as an artist in New York in the mid-1960s, returning to Lanzarote in 1966. It was then that he embarked on his spatial interventions, unique examples of public art and architecture blending with nature.

As well as visiting some of the most well-known Manrique projects (that fall under the Municipal Council of Lanzarote’s Centres for Art, Culture and Tourism or ‘CACT’) during your visit to Lanzarote, here are a few other ways to discover his heritage in the north and east of the island.

Visit César Manrique’s grave in Haría

César Manrique died in a traffic accident in September 1992. It might sound a little morbid to visit the artist’s grave, but in Lanzarote culture, it’s common to celebrate rather than mourn those who’ve gone before. Hence why La Noche de Finaos on 31 October, the eve of All Saint’s Day, and Dia de Los Meurtos or day of the dead are fiestas in local culture. His final resting place is marked by a simple, unpretentious headstone in the cemetery at Haría.

Browse César Manrique’s House-Museum in Haría

Manrique was living in Haría at the time of his death, in a converted farmhouse, he had started building in 1986. In 2013 the house was opened to the public as a museum. Visitors can see the artist’s personal belongings and his studio with unfinished paintings, just as Manrique left them.

While in Haría we recommend allowing enough time for lunch at the Centro Sociocultural La Tegala, a local institution. Better yet, make a day of it and time your visit to browse the craft market that takes place every Saturday morning. From here it’s a short drive up the LZ-10 to the recently renovated Mirador de Haría, a panoramic lookout and one of Manrique’s earliest endeavours.

Stop of at the Cesar Manrique Foundation at Tahíche

Dedicated to conserving the artist’s work, the Fundación César Manrique is headquartered in the centre of Lanzarote in the home that the artist designed on his return from New York. This impressive, 3,000m2 building is sited amid a lava coulee. Features include a lower story built around natural volcanic bubbles interconnected by tunnels.

See the Fobos wind toy

The scene of the fatal traffic collision that led to Manrique’s demise – the roundabout next to the Cesar Manrique Foundation – is marked by a wind toy sculpture entitled ‘Fobos’. This is one of a selection of wind toys designed by Manrique and made from cast iron which are dotted around the island. Manrique had wanted to create sculptures to replace the traditional windmills that were disappearing across Lanzarote. The first wind toy was erected in Arrieta in 1990 on the main road heading to Órzola, where it can still be found.

Fobos caught the eye of film director Pedro Almodóvar, who unwittingly used the same roundabout as the site for a crash in his film, Broken Embraces. Starring Penelope Cruz, the film was inspired by, and much of it shot around Lanzarote. According to the director, it is a homage to Manrique, who showed Almodóvar around his island home in the 1980s.

Stay at Finca de Arrieta eco-village

A little-known fact, Manrique visited the site that is now eco village Finca de Arrieta the day before he died. He picnicked here with a friend of Lanzarote Retreats and a local Lanzarote artist. Little did Michelle and Tila know this when they chose the former arable plot to build their family home, which has since developed to become the Finca. Choose from a collection of 17 yurts, villas and cottages for a sustainable luxury holiday with a difference.