The small Canary Island of Lanzarote is best known as a bucket and spade beach destination. Welcoming over 1.5 million foreign tourists a year, the bulk of them from the UK and Eire.
During the 1960´s General Franco began to actively encourage tourism in Spain in order to boost the countries economy. Creating a swathe of building development along the southern Costas and on the larger Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
At this time Manrique was studying and exhibiting in New York, whilst rubbing shoulders with art world luminaries such as Andy Warhol. Fearing that his beloved Lanzarote could become submerged beneath a sea of high rise hotels Manrique returned to Lanzarote, determined to fight against uncontrolled development on the island.
Today, as a result, the islands three main tourist resorts remain well contained. High rise buildings are banned and advertising hoardings are outlawed. Leaving Lanzarote largely as nature intended.
Manrique was more than just a conservationist alone though. As he recognised and accepted the need to provide visitors to the island with interesting places to visit and things to do. As a result he set about creating seven major tourist attractions that combined the natural volcanic beauty of Lanzarote with his own artistic aesthetic.
His best known project is the Jameos del Agua – where he converted a giant collapsed volcanic tunnel into a breathtaking underground auditorium and restaurant. Replete with beautifully planted gardens, a sea water lagoon and an incredible swimming pool that is still to this day reserved for the sole use of the King of Spain.
Article's author: Nick Ball (Lanzarote Guide Book)