César Manrique, more than anyone else, is responsible for the low rise, consistently welcoming, settlements on Lanzarote. His influence as architect & politician is felt across the island; the low rise white plastered houses with green or blue window furniture are the norm.
Born in Arricife in 1919, he studied architecture and art in New York. His return to Lanzarote in 1945 signalled the start of his political influence and we must be grateful for his desire that Lanzarote would benefit from tourism but be controlled in a low rise manner. His surreal paintings of fish are a delight wherever you see them.
The Fundación César Manrique was the subject of our visit on our recent trip. This is the house he had built in Tahiche near Teguise, which friends inaugurated after his death in 1992, as a cultural and arts centre and museum. The upper floor at ground level is an art museum featuring his own work together with his collection of, mainly Spanish artists such as Picasso and Miro. The lower floor consisted of five volcanic bubbles which he had converted into living and leisure spaces. Each ‘room’ has a different colour theme and the lava walls add interest. The only whitewashed ‘room’ as the outside pool and lounge area. These are all now preserved as he left them.
The Fundación is now a vibrant museum and a very worthwhile stopping off place for a Lanzarote holiday. When you see the Island and how mass tourism can live very happily with the environment do pay homage to the efforts of César Manrique and enjoy the colourful art as well! We have been going for years and never tire of the relaxing resort of Playa Blanca.