Before I visited lanzarote if someone had said who's Cesar Manrique, I'd have said ehh wasnt he an artist? having just got back from a two week visit I see him as so much more,- artist, sculptor, architect, landscape architect, revolutionary urban planner, ecologist , sustainable thinker and so my list goes on. And thank god for him because it would have been very easy for lanzarote to fall prey to tourism capitalists and lose its history and charm.
My family werent keen on visiting fundacion cesar manrique having been told by friends - its just a house - they grudgingly came along and came away delighted - anyone saying its just a house needs their heads looked at. For me it was a facinating 90 minutes spent feasting on manriques ecentric taste and clever eye for light and space, delighting in each new room and space and clicking away on the camera in the hope i might be able to draw inspiration to my own humble home and garden.
Its fairly easy to find on the map - on the roundabout outside tahiche - but dont rely on signposts. From the outside you'd be forgiven for driving past as its very low key but park up, pay your 8 Euro and step into a timeless paradise.
Cesar manrique left his house to the foundation along with all his art collection, own work and idea sketches and it is now an art gallery with vistor fees going towards up keep and regeneration of the island he loved and fought to protect from the torist decimation suffered by other canary islands.
Making use of how the lava had solidified, Manrique built into the exisiting terrain combining the natural beauty with his own modern artisitic ideas making fantastic use of light and space. When he built this house he started with five natural volcanic bubbles and dug out the lower areas of the house. These bubbles, are connected by narrow passageways dug out to connect the living space.
The first bit you enter is the upper level,which is now an the art gallery, it used to be his studio and now contains his art and some great pieces including picasso's which he held in his private collection.
In this first room you can straight immediately grasp how he tried to make art and nature always work in harmony, as in the centre of the room a whole in the floor provides space for light to falling to the room below and here sat a lizard probably admiring the picasso and thanking cesar for leaving him such a lovley home and the back door and huge picture windows built into this lava bubble look out to a lunar like, desolate landscape of black lava plateau.
Walking around I got lost in my thoughts and forgot all about hubby and kids, enjoying dicovering each new space for the first time and clicking away on the camera.
I loved how the big palm and fig tree grow through the house like veins and up through the holes in the lava roof whilst bird song is heard in every corner and light plays in different ways in each new space I arrived at.
Having passed through the art gallery sections which brought me in a winding circle stepping out into what must have been his back garden and back past a large but probably the only really tradional feature - a stone fireplace walking on through a space which may have been a bedroom ( my only disappointment here was never being sure what each room had been used for) I followed a little spiral stepping path down through a tunnel into a lower garden where it felt like Id entered a secret garden, with bubbling water feature and brid song to boot, I continued on through to a BBQ area outside seated area and swimming pool and then an on through room after room of inspirational design and architectural genius. Im not going to give details of every room because for me half teh fun was in discovering it for myself but be rest assured it is worth a visit.
Whether like my sons you are only 6 and love exploring or like my mum in your sixities and love a good potter about, whether you love all things arty, garden or whether you are just a bit nosey, this is a place you will enjoy being.
If you are deliberating hiring a car whilst in lanzarote - be in no doubt - its a must as with out it you will be hustled through places like this on a busy tour and miss the joy of a potter in paradise.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC