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Lanzarote 

In the Canary Islands 

An island of 150,000 inhabitants with 89 volcanic fire mountains, Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands archipelago off of the African coast, has been recognized a biosphere reserve by UNESCO since 1993.

Its capital, Arrecife, where we first arrive, surprises with its architecture. The buildings on the island take the form of cubes, with white that contrasts with the black lava flows that cover part of the island. This architecture extends to the whole of Lanzarote.

Whitewashed cubes with two floors in the villages and six at most in the capital. The only exception is the large hotel in Arrecife, with 17 floors. And the only colors we see adorning the doors and window frames are blue by the sea, and brown, yellow, green or purple in the villages.

One rightly wonders about this rather unique architectural unit. We were told that it is thanks to the influence of a famous architect and artist from Lanzarote, Cesar Manrique. Ardent defender of the original landscape of the island, it seems that he managed to convince the political authorities about the merits of this architectural concept, which we admit is at once amazing and befits this island of contrasts. In addition, no billboards are present to spoil the concept.

Island of contrasts, indeed 

In some parts of the island, it is almost like being in the middle of the desert, even though the sea roars a few steps away. The camel was introduced 500 years ago from Africa to help work the earth. Today they are also used in tourism, which is the main economic driver on the island.

Here, there is no groundwater. This does not prevent many different crops from growing: potatoes, corn, sweet potato, watermelon, pumpkin, onion, aloe, and even vines.

Speaking of vines, they are quite remarkable. You have to see the wine region of La Geria, with its vines winding in the center of volcanic stone circles, creating a unique landscape. You should also taste these magnificent white wines created from the Malvoisie grape variety.

18,000 goats also live on the island and contribute to the production of delicious cheeses.

What else is there to see? 

The Timanfaya National Park, in the center-west of the island, is one of the main attractions.

On September 1, 1730, between nine and ten o'clock in the evening, the earth opened and a sea of lava quickly buried ten villages. This lava continued to flow for six long years, covering a quarter of the volcanic ash island. A small museum in the centre of the park traces the history of these eruptions that formed the cones and calderas that surround us, and it is possible to experience some geothermal phenomena: see cigarette buts that are thrown on the ground ignite for a few seconds, or be wet by a small geyser when a bucket of water is tossed on the soil.

Lichens and sorrel are the only plants found on the lava fields in this park. Moreover, the sorrel, which was imported to the island, has proven to be very invasive, preventing any other plants from taking hold.

A stop at the salt works of Janubio is interesting and one must not miss El Golfo, the beautiful green lagoon where Almodovar shot scenes from his film “Broken Embraces”.

Discover Las Hervideros and its caves formed by a river of underground lava where the sea roars, helping to dig steep caves in the coast.

Give honor where honor is due

We must see the house of Cesar Manrique. He built this all-white house on three black lava flows, wanting to exploit the contrast. It was an architectural success that was out of the ordinary! Black lava is omnipresent in the many gardens that are overgrown with cacti and flowering plants, around the pool and through strategically cut openings and windows.

The house of Manrique is also a museum. He was an artist himself, and developed many friendships with famous artists; there are even some of Picasso’ s works there. Not to mention, the magnificent large and colorful windmills that were designed by Manrique himself.

Since his recent death, the house has been occupied and cared for by the foundation he created. It is a must-see.

What else is there to do?

Lanzarote is famous for its hot weather all year. Temperatures range between 22 and 25 ° C and do not fall below 12 ° C in winter.

The wind is present almost permanently on the island, creating a paradise for snowboarders and enthusiasts of wind sports.

Its beaches, both those made with blond sand found on the east coast, in the seaside resort of Puerto del Carmen, and that of black sand found elsewhere on the island also host many diving centers.

In short, Lanzarote is worth more than just a look!

Christiane Théberge 

 

Arrecife

Camels waiting for tourists

Winery in La Geria 

Timanfaya National Park

El Golfo

Manrique's giant windmill sculpture

 

   

 

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