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Spikey Sights – Exploring The Cactus Garden

The plant world´s spikiest species are superbly showcased at the Cactus Gardens in Guatiza, another Manrique man made marvel and one of the most popular visitor attractions on Lanzarote.

Dyeing For Cactus


Cactus Garden, Guatiza, Lanzarote

The Cactus Garden in Guatiza


The villages of Guatiza and Mala have long been the central hub of Lanzarote´s cactus country, an area where locals have cultivated the tunera prickly pear cactus for centuries in order to harvest the cochineal beetles that feed from them in order to extract a carmine red dye from them for export purposes.  This used to be big business until the end of the 19th century when synthetic dyes were first introduced and there are still numerous acres of land under cultivation here today.  As was observed by the French adventurer René Verneau when he toured the Canaries in 1891; “I returned to Arrecife, skirting the east cost for some distance….in the small hamlet of Guatiza they grow tuneras to breed cochineal”.

Manrique Marks The Spot

So this area was an obvious and logical spot for the creation of one of Manrique´s best loved projects, the Jardin de Cactus and as early as the 1970´s the artist and architect had already earmarked the site of a former quarry for the creation of this plant lovers Paradise, encouraging the island government to buy and wall in this piece of land.  Work on the Cactus Garden didn’t actually start in earnest until the late 1980´s though and it wasn’t open to the public until 1990.

8 Metre Metal Cactus

It´s certainly hard to miss the Cactus Garden if you´re touring around Lanzarote as there is a huge 8 metre green metal cactus standing at its entrance way.  Typically of Manrique´s major projects this cactus symbol or brand is then cleverly repeated throughout the installation, giving it a unique and easily recognisable identity.

10,000 Cacti

After passing through the entranceway and paying your admission you are then greeted by an amazing panoramic view of the entire gardens, with its many stone terraces and walkways, containing some 10,000 plants across 1,000 different species.  For the first time visitor it is truly amazing to encounter so many different species of cacti and unsurprisingly this is widely regarded as one of the most impressive collections of this plant type in the world.

Manrique was aided in this creation by a very well known botanist called Estanislao Gonzales Ferrer and the collection of plants are not just drawn from the Canary Islands, as there are also specimens on show here from as far afield as Madagascar and America, including various agaves and succulents as well as cacti.


Cactus Garden, Guatiza, Lanzarote

Barrel Cacti and the restored windmill


The various pathways through the garden all lead to a delightful bar and restaurant area which is located beneath a restored windmill – an edifice once commonly used across windy Lanzarote as a source of energy but which is today solely ornamental.  Visitors will also find that there´s a gift shop located closet o the restaurant area.

Background Information

Typically, a tour of the Cactus Garden occupies an hour or two and it is well worth taking your camera along as the some of the plants here are really out of this world, especially when they are in flower. 

The Cactus Garden is open daily from 10.00 to 17.45 and costs €5 for adults and €2.50 for children.  There is ample free parking available and you may also come across a local farmer in the car park who often demonstrates just how locals used to farm the cochineal beetle.

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