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Housing Bubble – Exploring The César Manrique Foundation

If you’re staying in one of our villas in Costa Teguise, such as Villa Catamaran you are just a ten minute drive away from a property that is really out of this world.  As the small village of Tahiche, which is just a couple of kilometres from this coastal resort is home to the César Manrique Foundation, which used to be the home and studio of the eminent artist of the same name, who was born on Lanzarote in 1919 and who played a vital role in the controlled development of tourism on the island.

 

Cesar Manrique Foundation, Tahiche, Lanzarote

Going Underground at The CMF

 

Gone With The Wind

Given the amount of wind that Lanzarote is subjected to – the island is located in the path of the Trade Winds – it is no surprise to find that cave houses and other partially submerged dwellings have quite a heritage here, providing much needed protection from the elements.  The famous artist César Manrique took this concept one stage further though in 1968, when he built the first stage of his home, which at this time was known as the Taro de Tahiche.

Housing Bubbles

Manrique had found the site for his new house when out walking with friends across the lava fields which dominate in this part of the island.  Glancing the green shoots of a fig tree across the flow, the artist stumbled across a series of large underground chambers, which were to become the basement of his new home.  Creating an amazing edifice on two levels with a total surface area of 1800 metres square, along with a further 1200 metres dedicated to terracing and gardens.

Traditional Features

Manrique had long preached the importance of maintaining and preserving the islands rich architectural heritage to other islanders, so it is little surprise to find that the upper and most visible level of his house pays homage to these same styles and traditions.  Featuring elements such as the distinctive, almost Russian Orthodox looking chimney shape and uniform white washed walls.

Visitors enter via a bougainvillea clad wooden door that leads into a small entrance hallway, giving glimpses of one of the chambers below.  This entrance then opens out into the main upper level exhibition space, which features works by some of Manrique’s contemporaries such as Pablo Picasso.

Public and Private Spaces

Underground Chamber, CMF, Lanzarote

Subterrenean Living....

Today, the Taro de Tahiche is home to the César Manriqe Foundation, a body dedicated to pursuing the artist’s protectionist policies and as a result is an interesting mix of both public exhibition space alongside intimate glimpses into more private areas, such as bathrooms and living rooms.

Like all of Manrique’s best known works the site features a beautiful water feature, which is the prelude to entering the subterrenean volcanic chambers below.  Here Manrique interlinked the five volcanic bubbles beneath his house creating a separate and distinct environment in each.  Which visitors have to pass through before finally emerging into a much larger gallery space which houses lots of Manrique’s best known canvasses.  The interaction between man and nature is also aknowledged here with the odd rock from the surrounding lava flow incoporated into the walls.

As well as paintings, visitors can also view a selection of other Manrique memorabilia such as pottery, graphic designs and drawings for some of his architectural creations such as the Mirador Del Rio.

The César Manrique Foundation certainly provides a fascinating insight into the life and work of the man who has made such an impact on Lanzarote and as such is a real must see for anyone keen to know more about the island’s culture and development.

Background Information

The CMF is open daily from 10.00 to 18.00 and admission costs €8 per adult, with children under 12 admitted free of charge.  The Foundation also stage regular exhibitions and are currently showing Workshop of Dreams, a recreation of the work space created by the artist in Haria, where he lived after moving away from Tahiche.

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Art Cars, Manrique & The Olympics

 

Cesar Manrique, BMW Art Car Collection

Driven By Design...Manrique´s Art Car

Cesar Manrique was pimping rides long before MTV got into the game.  And his famous BMW Art Car is currently on show in London as part of the London 2012 Festival, which is being staged to help mark the Olympics in the UK capital.

Art Drive! Exhibition

Art Drive! Is an event that is being organised by the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) in London and features 15 vehicles from the BMW Art Cars Collection.  Every year since 1975 BMW has invited a leading contemporary artist to customise a BMW 730i in their own individual style.  And over time this has led to a veritable who´s who of the modern art world contributing to this unique and innovative project.

Car Canvasses

Previous contributors include Andy Warhol in 1979, David Hockney in 1995 and Roy Lichtenstein in 1997.  And Lanzarote´s favourite son Cesar Manrique made his mark on the project when he was invited to customize a BMW in 1990.  The resulting design typifies Manrique´s colourful, high impact abstract style – and along with the other vehicles in the collection can now be viewed for free in London over the coming weeks.

In true art guerrilla style the ICA have commandeered the brutalist architecture of the Great Eastern Street NCP Car Park in Shoreditch as their gallery display space and backdrop for the exhibition of 15 vehicles from the Art Car Collection.  And they will be on display to the public free of charge until the 4th of August.

 

Art Drive, BMW Art Car Collection

Another Car Canvas on Display in London

Birth of the Art Car

The whole art car concept came about as the result of an idea originated by a French art and car lover called Herve Poulain who wanted to combine his twin passions in order to make a memorable splash in the Le Mans 24 Hours Race.  Poulain was close friends with Alexander Calder – one of the most eminent sculptors of his day – and in tandem, the pair approached BMW and persuaded them to allow Calder to customise a car for entry in the gruelling 24 hour rally.  The concept of the Art Car was born!

BMW were so delighted with the resulting publicity that they soon began commissioning other artists to come up with their own designs for future events and over time the project became a showcase for some of the biggest names in the art world.

Manrique was perhaps a slightly unusual choice as the artist had reservations about the impact of motor cars on the natural world that he fought so hard to protect.  But at the same time the pragmatic artist also accepted that cars were an inevitable and indispensable facet of life in the modern world, so he accepted the commission.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of Manrique´s ultimate demise will recognize the rather bitter irony of this decision as just two years later the artist was killed in a fatal car crash just yards from his home in Tahiche (now the Cesar Manrique Foundation).

The BMW Art Car Collection has been exhibited in most of the world´s major art galleries such as the Louvre in Paris and the Tate in London.  And the ICA´s latest event adds a further modern twist to this fascinating collusion between the art world and BMW.

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Join The Wet Set In Puerto Calero

Puerto Calero has often been referred to as the Millionaire’s Marina.  Not least is it provides berths for expensive yachts from around the world and tends to attract a more upmarket visitor as a result. 

 

Puerto Calero Marina, Lanzarote

Puerto Calero - The Millionaire´s Marina

 

Villa Carlota – High Quality Accommodation

But you don’t have to own a boat or be fabulously wealthy to enjoy a break here, as we offer a good selection of quality villas in this port resort such as Villa Carlota, a luxurious four bedroom rental property that can sleep up to eight guests in total comfort.  This high quality holiday villa has been decorated to a high standard and boasts plenty of luxury extras such as a Jacuzzi, swimming pool and games room.

Lanzarote´s First Sports Marina

Puerto Calero is just a five minute drive along the south east shoreline from the island’s largest resort of Puerto del Carmen, but it’s a world away in terms of style and feel.  It is still only one of two sports marinas on Lanzarote and was first developed during the mid 1980’s, opening to the public for the first time in 1989.  The marina proved so successful and popular that within 10 years the owners decided to double its capacity from 200 to 400 berths, whilst simultaneously developing the on land amenities too.

Ideal Holiday Location

Today Puerto Calero is a bustling destination at all times of the day and night, offering a wide variety of things for visitors to do and see.  It also makes an ideal base for anyone seeking to book self catering accommodation as it is located just a fifteen minute drive from the airport at Arrecife and is also in close proximity to Lanzarote’s key tourist attraction, the Timanfaya National Park.

Shopping and Markets

Over the last few years the marina owners have also sought to increase the retail offering in Puerto Calero by creating the Paseo de Moda, or Fashion Walk, which is populated by top end clothing outlets such as Helly Hansen.  A new twice weekly market also takes place there every Tuesday and Friday, featuring a small but growing selection of stalls selling local produce and handicrafts.

Maritime Excursions

 

Yellow Submarine, Submarine Safaris, Lanzarote

Dive Dive Dive....with Submarine Safaris

 

Many tourists first visit Puerto Calero as a result of booking a trip with one of its two big excursion operators, Catlanza and Submarine Safaris.  Catlanza offer sailings down to the beautiful beaches at Papagayo on board their giant, luxury catamaran and guests can enjoy free food and drink all day, along with Jet Ski rides and snorkelling.  Submarine Safaris head beneath the waves on an aquatic voyage of discovery on board their yellow submarine, Sub Fun Tres.  Giving guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with the wonderful array of sea life in the waters around the island.

Meals in the Marina

Back on dry land there are also plenty of good places to eat in and around the marina.  For a really luxurious or special occasion head for Amura at the end of the marina which serves good quality international cuisine in wonderful surroundings right by the water.  Azure restaurant is also well worth a visit and is located in the first line of restaurants along the marina waterfront.

So Near, So Spa

As well as good quality villas the marina is also home to a couple of good quality hotels in the shape of the 5 star Hesperia and the 4 star Costa Calero.  The Costa Calero boasts a great spa which is open to the public as well as guests and is ideal for anyone seeking a spot of serious pampering.

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Weather in Lanzarote – When’s The Best Time To Visit?

It’s August in Lanzarote and after a week or so of blistering heat with temperatures in the high 30’s Celsius today is a much cloudier and cooler day – it’s even been trying to rain.  Which goes to show that much like anywhere else on the planet Lanzarote has good and bad days when it comes to the weather.

But whilst you can’t make guarantees you can certainly discern broader patterns and trends throughout the year, which is important as one of the most frequently asked questions we are asked to field is when’s the best time of year to visit Lanzarote?  Or what will the weather be like in September (substitute other months as applicable here!).

 

Papagayo Beach, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Enjoy Lanzarote's Beaches All Year Round

Year Round Sunshine

So let´s try and get this straight – on Lanzarote the weather is good all year round.  By good we mean hot enough to sunbathe on the beach, with little in the way of cloud and certainly nothing in the way of rainfall.  That´s the norm – but then you can get aberrations which last for weeks on end. 

What is certain however is that certain times of year are more reliable than others, whilst during certain months specific climate factors such as the Trade Winds can kick in, having a major impact on how the weather actually feels when you´re on the ground here. 

Autumn – Our Favourite Season

So when do we think is the best time of year to visit?  Our standard answer is any time, as the weather really is great all year round.  But if you were to push me then I´d have to say that my favourite time of the year on the island weather wise is autumn – and there are a number of reasons for this.  Firstly, the Trade Winds that blow from roughly April through to August have dropped away by September, which makes sunbathing on the beach a much more pleasurable experience.  It also makes nighttimes more enjoyable as you don’t have to keep a jacket or top handy in case the wind picks up again.

Secondly the sea temperatures are still at their highest – but as the schools return both here and across Europe the beaches become a lot less crowded.  Which means obviously that you have a lot more space to spread out and enjoy and less competition for wave room in the water.

Beating The Winter Blues

After autumn we think the next best time to visit is in winter, especially this side of Xmas and the New Year.  As there is still little in the way of wind and nothing to beat the feeling of escaping cold and grey Britain for the clear blue skies and sunshine of Lanzarote.  Sure, the temperatures do start to fall a little as Autumn moves into winter here, but even then you can still expect to enjoy heat in the low to mid 20´s Celsius.  If you are staying in a villa or apartment complex such as then you´ll find that these are usually so well protected from any winds that the ambient heat is in fact much greater.  And the further south you stay, the more likely you are to experience better weather, making Playa Blanca the best choice of resort at that time of the year.

February, March and even April can often prove to be the least reliable months on Lanzarote weather wise.  As the oceans start to warm again after winter this can create plenty of cloud and even rainfall, although you could also just as easily experience two weeks of unbroken sunshine.  But if we were pressed on which months are the riskiest then we would have to plump for those.

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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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Exploring Arrecife – Lanzarote´s Cool Capital

Arrecife is the only city on the island of Lanzarote and is currently home to around 45,000 inhabitants – equivalent to about 30% of the total population.  It was awarded the mantle in 1852, assuming the role from Teguise in the interior of the island, a switch that reflected Arrecife´s growing importance as a maritime trading port and economic hub.  A role that is still strongly in evidence today in and around areas such as Porto Naos, home to what is left of Lanzarote´s fishing fleet and Puerto Marmoles – the main ferry and container port.

 

Castillo San Jose, Arrecife

Castillo San Jose, Arrecife

 

El Charco – The Capital´s Historic Heart

The historic heart of Arrecife is located in and around the El Charco area, which is an inland lagoon in the heart of the city known locally as The Puddle.  The church of San Gines is located here as are a few blocks of older more historic buildings – as well as the La Recova market – but the bulk of the architecture in the city is drawn straight from the Spanish brutalist school of the 1940´s and 50´s – so don’t expect to stumble across too many gems.

That being said though Arrecife is still home to two historic castles – both of which now house museums and are located right on the waterfront, where they formerly stood guard against pirate attacks and raids. 

Castles and Pirates

The Castillo de San Jose was built during the 18th century and was once known locally as The Fortress of Hunger, as it was partly created as a public works scheme to alleviate chronic poverty on the island at that time.  Today it is home to Lanzarote´s Museum of International and Contemporary Art, where visitors can view a small but interesting selection of works from leading Canarian artists, including the ubiquitous César Manrique.

Whilst the Castillo San Gabriel is a much older fortification, dating from the 16th century and located at the foot of the main shopping thoroughfare Calle Castillo Y Leon (also known locally as Calle Real).  For many years San Gabriel housed an exhibition of Guanche artefacts but a recent facelift has transformed the space into a museum that explores the cultural and social history of Arrecife.

Arrecife Gran Hotel – A Tall Story

 

Arrecife Gran Hotel, Arrecife

Arrecife Gran Hotel, Arrecife

 

Lanzarote’s other main landmark, perhaps rather strangely, is a hotel.  However this is not just any old establishment but the only high rise building on the island and one with quite a story attached.  As before it was built César Manrique had helped to force through a law prohibiting the construction of edifices taller than a Canarian Palm tree in a bid to stave off over development. 

Somehow however this 17 storey monster slipped through the net – and once constructed was deemed too big to demolish.  So after years of lying vacant behind corrugated iron hoardings the island government gave the go ahead for it to be transformed into a hotel and today this is the home of the Arrecife Gran, one of just six 5 star hotels on the island.

Playa del Reducto – Urban Beach

The Arrecife Gran is located right next to the city centre beach of Playa del Reducto – a beautiful palm fringed playa that is wildly popular with local city residents.  And just beyond the beach lies a park and the start of the coastal promenade that now runs all the way along the south eastern shoreline to Puerto del Carmen.

Getting Around

There are regular bus services into the capital from all of the main resorts on the island and the service is cheap and reliable.  Driving in the capital can be a bit daunting for tourists as there are lots of one way systems and few parking spaces.  So if you are planning to take the hire car the easiest thing to do is to head for the Arrecife Gran Hotel, which is easy to find and which also offers an underground car park that is open to the public (hourly fees apply).

Places To Stay

The closest tourist resort to Arrecife is Costa Teguise, which is just a ten minute drive to the capital, where we offer villas for rent such as the Beach House from as little as £668 per week.

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Shop Till You Drop On Lanzarote

Any shopaholics heading for Lanzarote can breathe a sigh of relief and visit safe in the knowledge that they can still enjoy a serious fix of retail therapy whilst visiting the island.  As Lanzarote is home to a number of shopping centres, as well as some great markets and unique independent outlets.

Duty Free Tax Status

Shoppers will be delighted to know that Lanzarote enjoys duty free tax status, which helps to make items such as alcohol, cigarettes and perfume much cheaper than in mainland Spain and indeed in most other parts of the EU too.

If you are planning to buy any of the above items and carry them into the UK or Eire then the allowance limit for alcohol is 2 litres of wine or spirits less than 22% ABV, or 1 litre of spirits above 22% ABV.  Whilst you can legally fly in with 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of rolling tobacco.

Electrical Goods – Buyer Beware

If ever the phrase caveat emptor should be heeded by consumers then that is when you are entering one of the island´s many shops selling electrical goods.  As whilst by no means all of these retailers are indulging in dubious practices we hear sufficient horror stories every year to simply advise our clients to forget about shopping in these stores – as rip offs abound.  So you have been warned…….

Shopping Centres

Lanzarote is home to two main shopping centres.  Deiland is the oldest of the pair and is located close to the airport in Playa Honda, making it a real favourite with the large local population there.  The centre is anchored by a large HiperDino supermarket which is a good place to shop for food as it boasts a fresh fish and meat counter – something that can’t be said of most smaller supermarkets in the main resorts. 

Deiland is also home to a bowling alley, a branch of Burger King (one of the few fast food outlets on Lanzarote) and a cinema (showing Spanish language films only), as well as a selection of local brand name fashion outlets.

The Biosfera Shopping Centre is located in the heart of Puerto del Carmen, which is the largest and most popular resort on Lanzarote.  Here you will find more familiar retail brand names such as Zara, Mango and Footlocker – as well as local favourites such as Pull and Bear. 

Arrecife – Commercial Capital

Lanzarote´s bustling capital city of Arreicfe is also a great place to enjoy a spot of retail therapy, especially on a Saturday morning when the market in El Charco is in full swing as this makes the whole experience much more atmospheric.  The main shopping street is Calle Real, which runs from the sea front back into the centre of the city.  Parking here can be tricky so head for the underground car park beneath the landmark Arrecife Gran Hotel.

Markets

 

Haria Market, Haria, Lanzarote

Saturday Market in Haria

 

Lanzarote is also home to a number of regular weekly markets. The largest and best known of these takes place in Teguise every Sunday morning and attracts tens of thousands of locals and visitors alike.  Smaller and arguably more atmospheric markets are also held in Haria every Saturday morning and in the Rubicon Marina very Wednesday and Saturday.

Shopping For Food

Unlike mainland Spain there are no daily food markets on Lanzarote – so if you have booked accommodation in one of the main resorts, such as Villa Las Palmitas in Puerto Calero then you may need to visit a large local supermarket if you plan to do any of the catering during your stay.

Most of the supermarkets in the main resorts are tiny compared to their British counterparts and sell only a limited range of fresh food.  So you will need to seek out a large branch of one of the two main chains, Spar or HiperDino if you need to stock up on these sort of items.

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Southern Comfort – Exploring The Resort Of Playa Blanca

If your primary concern when taking a break here on Lanzarote is to simply soak up the sun (and why not, given the foul weather in the UK) then you should take a closer look at Playa Blanca, the second largest resort located right at the southern tip of the island.  As it offers the best microclimate and weather – especially during the winter months.

Great Beaches + Wonderful Weather = Happy Holidays

 

Papagayo beach, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Glorious Beaches at Papagayo

 

Playa Blanca is named after the small white beach that is located in the heart of the town and until the early 1990´s this really was still just a quiet little fishing village, serving as the gateway to the neighbouring island of Fuerteventura.  Playa Blanca´s great beaches and climate though made it an obvious contender for tourist development and in the following twenty years the town rapidly expanded into a bustling holiday destination, with hotels and apartment complexes extending from the beaches at Papagayo in the west through to the Faro de Pechiguera lighthouse in the east.

The resort is located about forty minutes drive from Arrecife airport and it retains the feel of a town apart from the rest of Lanzarote, thanks to its slightly isolated position and proximity to Fuerteventura.  That being said though it offers everything that holidaymakers could need, such as good quality restaurants, shops, bars and of course excellent beaches.

Life´s A Beach in Playa Blanca

There are three good quality beaches within the resort, including the aforementioned town beach which is the smallest of this trio.  The largest and most popular of these sands are at Playa Dorada, which also offers plenty of facilities such as sun loungers and shades as well as safe bathing.  There are also a number of bars and restaurants to the rear of the beach making this a great spot for watching the world go by.

Playa Flamingo is another great beach, located just a short walk from the ferry port and set in delightful gardens.  This is another excellent spot for swimmers as the beach here is protected by large breakwaters made out of giant volcanic stones and there are also plenty of amenities

Visit Papagayo

The real jewel in the crown though is Papagayo – a set of bays and coves located about fifteen minutes walk from the centre of the resort.  The beaches here are entirely all natural and widely regarded as amongst some of the best in the Canaries, regularly winning plaudits in travel magazines and polls.  There´s not much here in the way of facilities though so do remember to take along your own shade and water.

Day Trips To Fuerteventura

 

Jandia Peninsula, Fuerteventura

Explore Fuerteventura´s Beaches Too...

 

If you´re staying in Playa Blanca then it´s easy to hop onto a ferry in the harbour and make the short crossing to Fuerteventura.  The brightly coloured buildings in Corralejo provide quite a contrast to the uniform white of Lanzarote and the Dunas National Park is a real must see, as there are some 16km of sand dunes to explore here.  Ferries depart throughout the day and you can read more about the island by visiting our Day Tripping in Fuerteventura page.

Moon Landing

Playa Blanca is also the nearest resort to Lanzarote´s number one tourist attraction, the volcanoes and lava fields of Timanfaya.  This sight is well worth getting up from your sun lounger for and is only a ten minute drive away. 

Rubicon Marina

Playa Blanca is also home to one of only two marina´s on Lanzarote.  Rubicon Marina opened in 2002 – adding a touch of glamour to the resort – and is home to a good selection of shops, bars and restaurants as well as a popular market every Wednesday and Saturday.

If all of this has whetted your appetite for a holiday in Playa Blanca then we offer some high quality holiday villas for rent in the resort, such as Villa Papagayo, a two bedroom property which can be rented out from as little as 525 per week.

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On The Look Out – Exploring The Mirador del Rio

As you´d expect from an island that is home to hundreds of volcanoes and a handful of small mountain ranges Lanzarote offers some fantastic views and vantage points for those who head for the higher ground.  In Spain these lookouts are known as miradors, a word taken from the verb mirar – to look – and the best known of these lofty spots on Lanzarote is undoubtedly the Mirador del Rio, which is located right on the northern tip of the island, overlooking the near neighbour of La Graciosa.

 

View to La Graciosa, Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote

View to La Graciosa from the Mirador del Rio

 

Gunning For The USA

The Mirador del Rio started life as a naval gun emplacement back in the late 19th century and is located some 470 metres above ground level atop the Famara massif range of cliffs.  It was built to guard the Rio straits – a narrow waterway that separates Lanzarote from La Graciosa – during Spain´s conflict with the USA that started in 1898 and which was initially sparked by the sinking of the battleship HMSS Maine in Havana harbour (Cuba was a Spanish territory at this time). A war that ended ignominiously for the Iberian empire, resulting in the loss of former key colonies such as the Philippines and which set America on the pathway to becoming a fully fledged global power.

Bateria del Rio

This location – which is also known locally as the Bateria del Rio – had long been a popular spot for sightseers.  Not least as the drop from the edge of the massif is almost sheer and vertical whilst the vantage point enables visitors to view not just La Graciosa but also the other islets that comprise the Chinijo archipelago of Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este in their entirety. 

A Victorian View

The spot was even visited by the well known Victorian adventurer Olivia M Stone, who described it thus in her book Tenerife And Its Six Satellites: “Having now arrived in an area of basalt rock, we dismounted and walked up to a high point, which was only a dozen yards away and, on arriving, we were amazed to find that we were on the edge of a precipice, with one of the most splendid marine landscapes at our feet.”

City of Seagulls

Throughout the first half of the 20th century the battery remained unused and even before Manrique embarked on hi project there had already been a number o other suggestions as to how this spot could be best utilised, including a proposal from the architect Fernando Higueras (a close friend of Manrique) to develop a Cuidad de las Gaviotas, or City of Seagulls.

Instead however it was left to Manrique to develop the site as part of his wider project to create a distinct Lanzarote brand by building a variety of unusual and imaginative tourist attractions.  And working in conjunction with the architect Eduardo Cáceres and the artist Jesús Soto the Mirador was completed in 1973 and opened to the public for the first time, initially as a restaurant.

Hide And Reveal

 

Entrance Way, Mirador del Rio, Lanzarote

Entrance to the Mirador del Rio

 

Manrique was always keen to excite the senses and this playfulness is evidenced in the non descript entrance way to the Mirador, which does nothing to give away the amazing panoramas that unfold as you pass through the entrance passage way and into the main interior of the building.  Here visitors are greeted by two enormous floor to ceiling glass widows (which look like eyes when seen from the outside) and that give the site the feel of James Bond baddie´s hilltop hideout.

The views down to La Graciosa and the other islands are simply breathtaking – and can be enjoyed in even greater close up through one of the telescopes sited outside on the balcony area.

Other Manrique Miradors

The industrious artist Manrique also found time to create similar Miradors on other Canary Islands, such as the Mirador del Palmajero, on La Gomera.

Visitor Information

The Mirador del Rio is open daily from 10.00 to 17.45 and admission costs just €4.50 per adult and €2.25 for children.

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Arrieta – The Jewel of the North

To many locals the ‘real Lanzarote’ can be found in the North of the island, away from the tourist resorts and lave fields of the south.  Here the terrain has been left largely untouched by tourist development and there is still plenty of evidence of active agricultural activity along with some delightful sleepy villages to explore.

 

Playa La Garita, Arrieta, Lanzarote

Playa La Garita

 

Relaxed Seaside Village

Arrieta is located on the coast here in a small bay and is reminiscent of a small seaside resort, without any of the high rise hotels or apartment complexes spoiling the view.  For decades this has been a favourite retreat for Lanzaroteños and Canarians from some of the other larger islands.  But increasingly Arrieta is making its way onto the tourist radar – and rightly so as this is a fantastically relaxed environment for a holiday.

The area now occupied by Arrieta was once an aboriginal settlement and takes its modern day name from a Basque adventurer, Juan de Arrieta Perdomo, who married the daughter of Maciot and Princess Teguise in 1425.

As you enter the village you are struck by the sight of one of César Manrique’s wind toys adorning the roundabout and this huge red weather vane was in fact the last of these that he created on the island before his untimely death in 1992.

Playa La Garita – One of Lanzarote´s Best Beaches

The village sits right next to the blue flag beach of Playa La Garita, which is one of the most beautiful stretches of sand on the island.  The size of the beach is very dependent on the tides, as at low tide you can walk some 3km from one end of the bay to the other, whilst at high tide there’s just a small pocket of sand to stretch out on close to the village.

Playa La Garita can also be subdivided into two distinct beaches – as to the right pretty much anything goes, with dog lovers, naturists and locals camping by the beach all able to enjoy the sands.  Whilst to the left the rest of the beach is more supervised, with life guards on duty, dogs banned and clothes largely kept on!

Eat On The Beach

There are two good little restaurants located right next to the beach at Arrieta too, which makes it a great spot for a bite to eat if you are out touring the island.  Casa En La Playa sits in between the official and the natural beach and serves good quality sea food and other traditional Canarian fayre, such as Gambas al ajillo and Pimientos de Padron.  El Chiringuito at the other end of the beach focuses more on snack food, such as burgers and sandwiches, along with some tapas. And come the weekend they also cook up large communal plates of paella, which you can enjoy for a few Euros.

There are also quite a few little bars and restaurants in the village itself, including the up market eatery El Marinero, the traditional Canarian favourite El Amanacer and the excellent value tapas bar Pesquidito which sits on the tiny harbour.

Casa Juanita – Architectural Oddity

 

Casa Juanita, Arrieta, Lanzarote

Casa Juanita

Just around the corner from this spot is one of Lanzarote’s main architectural oddities, Casa Juanita, which contrasts sharply with the traditional white washed houses elsewhere in the village and around the island.  Despite its modernist exterior this strange cube shaped house with red and blue walls was built as long ago as 1919 by a resident of the nearby village of Haria called Don Juan de Leon for his daughter Juanita.

Eco Friendly Accommodation

As you walk through the village you come across lots of signs for houses and apartments for rent – and we also offer an interesting range of accommodation options on the Finca de Arrieta, a former farm just two minutes away from the beach which is now Lanzarote’s first and only eco resort.  So you can book a break here in say the Eco Garden Cottage  from as little as £477 per week.  This is an ideal spot for families with kids especially as the Finca has loads to keep children entertained, such as rides on Mollie the farm donkey, a trampoline, playground and communal swimming pool.

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