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Exploring The Jameos del Agua

The Jameos del Agua is arguably the most impressive of César Manrique´s many creations on Lanzarote – not least as it has been developed on such a grand scale and has essentially been constructed underground within a volcanic tunnel which was created by the eruption of nearby Monte La Corona.

 

Swimming pool, Jameos del Agua, Lanzarote

Jameos del Agua

 

What´s A Jameo?

This tunnel is one of the longest of its kind in the world – measuring about 6km – and is also home to another popular island attraction, the Green Caves.  Jameo is a word derived from the old aboriginal Majo dialect (these were the island residents prior to the Spanish conquest in the 15th century) and is used to describe an opening or entrance way into a larger cave, grotto or volcanic bubble.  The Jameos del Agua is in fact made up of three separate jameo – the Jameo Chico, the Jameo Grande and the Jameo Redondo and is so named as it also plays host to an internal lake, which is home to a unique species of blind albino crab.

Manrique´s First Major Project

It can be hard at times to pin down the Jameo´s true function – it was initially conceived as a restaurant and nightclub, but today it is closest to being a tropical gardens as well as a concert venue.  It was the first of Manrique´s major projects on Lanzarote and he also intended it to show how it could be possible to create tourist attractions that were ecologically friendly and which blended into Lanzarote´s unique volcanic landscapes.  At the same time the Jameos also helped to put Lanzarote on the map as a tourist destination for the first time, winning plaudits and architectural awards and attracting the first wave of VIP visitors to the island.

The project to complete the Jameos del Agua went on in fact for some eleven years – as Manrique was still living in New York during the mid 1960´s when it first got underway.  As a result he called on one of his close associates Jesus Soto to help oversee its development and it only fully and opened to the public in 1977.

Crabs and Caves

Like all of Manrique´s creations the Jameos also has its own brand symbol, in this instance a giant metallic crab, which is evident as you drive towards it from the coastal villages of Arrieta and Punta Mujeres.  The tour begins as you then descend into the Jameo Chico down beautifully crafted wooden stairs into what now serves as a small bar and reception area.  Which hints at the abundant vegetation and planting that is prevalent throughout the rest of the site.

Stairs then led down to the central underground grotto, which is where you can see the albino crabs glistening in the water like tiny jewels.  The atmosphere and scale of the development is cathedral like, a feeling further enhanced by the ambient music that is played in the background – and makes for a great spot to just sit and contemplate.

Bright, White Swimming Pool

As you walk along the narrow volcanic walkway that runs alongside the lake you quickly notice the amazing symmetry of planting and design at each entrance/exit point, before spiralling up stairs that suddenly thrust you out into the light and the sight of a bright white swimming pool – a typical Manrique touch that contrasts brilliantly with the surrounding black volcanic rock of the jameo.

Natural Auditorium

Just past the pool visitors then find the auditorium, which is housed within another volcanic grotto and which boasts great natural acoustics as a result.  The auditorium has played host to numerous musical performers over the years although it is currently undergoing renovation and hasn’t hosted a concert now for some time.

Visitor Information

The Jameos del Agua is a real must see if you are planning to do any sightseeing on Lanzarote  and is open daily from 10.00 to 17.30.  Admission costs €8 for adults and €4 for children.  You can also enjoy dining at the Jameos at night every Tuesday and Saturday when the venue hosts traditional folk dancing, phone 0034 928 848024 for information and reservations.

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