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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lanzarote II: the astonishing interventions of César Manrique

César Manrique was born in Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote in 1919.

He began training as an architect but dropped out and switched to a Fine Arts college in Madrid, graduating as a painter and art teacher. Travelling the world, he ended up in New York City in the 1960s, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Andy Warhol and having a series of exhibitions as a sculptor. In 1966 he moved back to Lanzarote, and from our perspective, that is where things start to get really interesting.

To say he turned his attention to architecture would be an over-simplification. True, he compiled and published a catalogue, Lanzarote: Arquitecture inédita, of "unedited" vernacular architecture from his home island. And true, he designed a series of buildings which combined those native vernacular styles with the minimalist, modernist, big-window (retro-)futurist flourishes of the 1960/70's contemporary architecture scene.

However his work went beyond simply designing buildings. Of course, every architect ever loves to waffle about the "contextual response" of their work to its location, but Manrique embodied this rather more deeply and successfully than most. Formulating an aesthetic concept he called Art-Nature/Nature-Art, he sought to integrate his artistic/sculptural approach not only with traditional Lanzarote architecture, but with the fabric of the island itself.

The volcanic geology of the island is stark, barren, alien, and with its pallette of jagged black lava and arid ochre, even jarring, discomforting --


Lanzarote through a bus window #4 by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

-- especially to someone from such a famously 'green and pleasant' isle as myself. In fact, let's be real: Lanzarote has essentially no fresh/drinking water whatsoever, and almost no arable land, so quite apart from any ironic winks about how rainy England is in comparison, it is quite literally inhospitable. It makes perfect sense for an initial reaction to this landscape to be wariness, not falling in love. And yet....

In Manrique's words, “For me it was the most beautiful place on Earth and I realised that if people could see it through my eyes, they'd think the same”.

His influence in the late 60s and throughout 1970s and 1980s was far-reaching. Tourism on the island was in its early stages, and he campaigned vigorously not just to promote that beauty to the new wave of international tourists, but to ensure that the corresponding development was sympathetic and fitting with the native scenery and architecture, not a mushrooming of international-style tower hotels. As we saw in Arrecife, this was not 100% successful as there is one outright high-rise hotel, and lots more generic mid-rise ones. Still, while Arrecife might not be an instagram belle, it's certainly no Benidorm, and the resort development elsewhere on the island almost entirely tends toward 'suburbs' of low-rise villa/apartments in at least a vague impersonation of traditional vernacular styles. For that Lanzarote can thank César Manrique.

Beside this general activist influence, though, he also made numerous direct 'interventions', blending landscape, architecture, public realm, sculpture and art. The island is littered with restaurants, museums, parks, houses, lookouts and even roundabouts bearing his distinctive style. Alas I had only time to visit four of them, but what a mind-blowing experience it was. I would certainly rank it right alongside the likes of Valletta or La Mezquita in terms of personal architectural wonderment, I hope these pics can give even a small flavour of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part 1: Fundación César Manrique (1968–1992)


Fundación César Manrique - entrance by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

So here we are at the entrance to the Fundación, Manqirue's former home and studio in the village of Tahíche, about 5km north of Arrecife. He had just about finished converting it from a private home to the gallery/headquarters of his foundation when he sadly died in 1992 in a car accident nearby.

Before we even enter, the garden is a bit of a brain-melting work of art to me, with its black rock 'soil':


Volcanic garden by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Volcanic palm garden by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

But that's just Lanzarote being Lanzarote. Manrique's presence is signposted by sculpture:


Fundación César Manrique - windmill by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - sculpture by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Step through the arch and into a nice courtyard. The outbuildings (now serving as the ticket office etc) are vernacular chic, at home under the volcano on the horizon.


Fundación César Manrique - courtyard by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Entering the house proper. The ground floor level is essentially now an art gallery showing Manrique's personal collection as well as his own work. I didn't take many pictures in here. I'm not good with low light and I tend not to photograph gallery/museum exhibits exhaustively due to principle/lack of interest anyway, but still, on this occasion I wish I had a few more.


Fundación César Manrique - interior by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - interior by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - interior by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Inside / Outside

Above, we see the distinction between 'inside' and 'outside' being playfully blurred with the continuation of the lava flow 'through' the window. Really though this example is an obvious gimmick; the actual erasure of this distinction occurs in a much more holistic and integrated way.

Stepping out from one of the gallery spaces we find ourselves on a terrace overlooking a pool, crossed by a lava bridge.


Fundación César Manrique - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Alternatively we can look up and out across the lava field.

Ordinarily I would not have uploaded both these photographs. Too similar. I would have somehow picked one as being slightly better, and discarded the other. But as much as I flipped between them, I simply couldn't decide.


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

The first makes me think it's a shot of the house/terrace, with some scenery as a 'border' in the background. The second, even though I'd only taken one pace to the right, suddenly seems to open up, and the scenery dominates my perception with the house as a foreground 'border'.

One pace, and it swings from 51:49 house:landscape to 51:49 landscape:house.

It was perhaps only really at that point (back at home on my computer, flipping between photos indecisively) I really appreciated the whole Nature-Art thing. Still, it was about to manifest in another more obvious way, as we take a staircase down to the 'basement' level...


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

...which consists of five natural caves formed from bubbles within the lava, converted into a series of small but stylish living spaces.


Fundación César Manrique - lava tube corridor by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - lava bubble room by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - lava bubble room by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - lava corridor by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - lava bubble room by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Emerging next to the pool seen earlier...


Fundación César Manrique - poolside garden by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


One factor it might be worth stressing in text, since it isn't truly communicated by photos, is climate. In many places, blending inside and outside in this fashion would be a clever conceit, but ultimately stupid and pointless. If I had a house with living rooms arranged in partly open-air caves and tunnels within the cliffs of the Avon gorge, for example, it would be utterly useless. Easily 80% of the year would be too cold and wet to use, soft furnishings would be out of the question, destroyed by mold and damp etc.

Lanzarote is a different story. It basically never goes below 15 degrees, and basically never rains. Easily 80% of the year it's 20+ and sunny and so these spaces are every bit as practically usable, if not more so, than a 'fully indoors' room would be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Garden

Finally we ascend back to entrance level and exit via a beautiful garden, decorated with a large colourful mosaic partly made of volcanic rock fragments.


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - garden by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - fountain by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - mosaic and garden by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Fundación César Manrique - volcanic garden and mosaic by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Thank you to introduce the wonderful artist/architect Cesar Manrique to us, Steve!
I love this thread!
It inspired me to think about a new necklace, materials black lava stone (of course ;)),
and something white (not sure yet if Howlith or white jade), and not sure yet
if to make it very pure or to integrate a "garden element" in red and green. ;)
Thank you for inspiring pictures like these! :)

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks leon, christos and yansa. i'm delighted you find such inspiration. of course, the foundation had a little gift shop full of nice manrique-style jewellery, but alas, it is a bit far for me to nip back and get you anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Interlude: Nazaret

A few km north of Tahíche we find the village of Nazaret.


Nazaret by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

As I explained above, I naturally associate these arid volcanic landscapes with a sense of inhospitability. As such, I tend to automatically assume the villages on the slopes are somehow 'clinging on', if not exactly in desolate poverty, then at least in humble simplicity...

Of course this is a nonsense assumption, and it took only a few minutes walking through the village to realise how precisely wrong it was in this case in particular. Nazaret clearly radiates the vibe of what americans might call an "upscale neighbourhood". Properties are large, stylish, set back from the road and surrounded by a lushness of greenery that doesn't come naturally here. I felt a little flavour of Beverley Hills...


Nazaret by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Nazaret by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Nazaret by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Nazaret by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Nazaret by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Looking down to Arrecife from Nazaret by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

(In that last shot, that's the sprawl of Arrecife in the bay down below, the 18 storey Gran Hotel clearly marking "my" beach even from up here.)

You can tell this is a rich area, because not only the bus stop a safe km or two from the village proper, there isn't even a proper footpath. Pedestrians are evidently too plebeian for Nazaret. So what would make me hike up into this 'rich ghetto'?

Well, it's probably unlikely you were asking yourself the question: what would happen if you combined the style and philosophy of César Manrique with the psychedelic excesses of the 1970s millionaire Hollywood set?

But if you were, here's your chance to find out...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Part 2: LagOmar (1970s-1990s)


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Welcome to LagOmar, a place which is extremely difficult to define in a nutshell.

It officially styles itself as Museo Lagomar -- but for a museum, it doesn't really have any exhibits... except itself.

It's popularly known as Casa Omar Sharif, Omar Sharif's house -- but he never lived here.

It's a stop on the unofficial Manrique 'trail' and exudes his style -- but he didn't actually design it.

In fact it is none of those things and yet all of those things at once, unique and uncategorisable in the best possible way. But before I waffle any further, let's step inside and get a taste:


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Nice, huh?

As this is supposedly a César Manrique thread, let's clear that aspect up before we go any further.

In fact, getting a "clear" answer on the extent of his involvement seems rather difficult. LagOmar's own literature coyly describes him as "conceiving" the project, crediting artist Jesús Soto with actually "designing" it. Additionally, the British property developer behind the house, Sam Benady, also seems to have been an active force behind the "1001 Nights" concept, wanting something with enough wow-factor to persuade the super-rich to buy similar villas for themselves.

Jesús Soto doesn't even have an English language wikipedia page, but some minor digging turned up the information that he was born on the neighbouring Canary isle of Fuerteventura in 1928, moved to Lanzarote in his 20s, was allegedly key in persuading Manrique to move back home, and worked with him on a number of touristic interventions (some of which will follow). Whatever the division of labour at LagOmar, clearly they were established colleagues and regular collaborators before and after this project, whose styles were continually mutually influential.

Further complicating the tricky matter of attribution, this Benady/Soto/Manrique combination was working in the 1970s, but this lower area shown above actually came much later, when architects Dominik von Boettinger from Germany and Beatriz van Hoff from Uruguay bought the house in 1989 and extended the complex. They did so supposedly in consultation with "local artists", which possibly included Manrique and/or Soto, although I can't find definitive proof - at any rate, I could not spot the point where 'original' or 'extension' began or ended.

To be honest, though, even if Manrique had no input on the project at all, I'd still feel justified including it in the thread on the grounds it is an homage/ripoff. So many aspects of his "DNA" are evident here, from the pallette of red and black lava with curving white plaster, or the sculptural touches of the scattered ovoid bronze lamps and wooden-inlay steps, to the blending of inside/architectural and outside/natural spaces:


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Still, there are differences. My impression from the (admittedly small) selection of other Manrique works I sampled was a strong undercurrent of simplicity, humility and discretion. This place is a bit more -- well, ok, a lot more -- flamboyant.

Like, routing you through this poolside tunnel isn't enough for this place.


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

It casually ups the ante by proceeding to route you through another tunnel, this time water-filled, across stepping stones!


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

And from there, we continue to wind a bewildering, looping path as we gradually climb through the garden and caves, spiralling up toward the original casa, a new vista or chamber revealed around every corner.


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Casa Omar Sharif


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


So here's the story. While filming The Mysterious Isle on Lanzarote in 1972, Omar Sharif saw the (still unfinished) house and loved it so much he bought it on the spot.

However, developer Sam Benady desperately wanted the property back, and knowing Sharif's weakness for gambling, challenged him to a game of bridge. Although Sharif was a top-level bridge player himself, Benady happened to be European champion, and proceeded to win the game, and with it the house back. Thereafter, despite, or perhaps because of the fact he lost the house at cards without even spending a single day there, the nickname Casa Omar Sharif stuck.

I'm not entirely sure I believe this story -- if Benady was desperate not to lose the house, why would he sell it in the first place? -- but it's a nice story and they trade on the legend regardless:


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Inside, the house is much smaller and humbler than I expected. Definitely more of a "cottage"-scale villa than a mansion-scale villa. It only has a handful of rooms and none of them are particularly spacious, although they are stylish.


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Kitty didnt appreciate being disturbed by my camera shutter.


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

The pool, too, is high on style but distinctly petite in actual size.

LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Nazaret from Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

But of course, not having much space inside doesn't really matter in a place like this. It's Lanzarote. It's 20-something degrees. Why would you entertain guests indoors anyway, when you have cave-spaces like this you could be hanging out in?


Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I liked this place so much that after stopping for a refreshing lemon beer at one of the various restaurant/cafe/bar options within, with this view from my table...


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

... I went round the entire thing again, and discovered not just new viewpoints in any artistic metaphorical sense, but literally entirely new passages and tunnels leading to new chambers and gardens I'd previously missed. Remarkable place.

One moment I'd feel like I was on-set for an original 60s episode of Star Trek, and there should be green 'aliens' walking around. The next moment it's all so 70s hollywood, you feel there should be rollerskating waitresses plying guests with trays piled high with cocaine, conical as the volcanoes on the horizon, white as the swooshy plaster. (Actually best forget the rollerskating, this must be the least wheelchair accessible development on the planet.)



LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


View to Arrecife from Casa Omar Sharif by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


LagOmar by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Indeed, I would love to be here in the evening - we'll forgoe the trays of cocaine as not really my thing, but some music, a few drinks - what an amazing place to mingle and party. Unfortunately it was back to the bus stop for me, but perhaps one day I can return to sample LagOmar after dark.
 

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Spectacular architectural exposition, very unusual and with amazing details, like that lava bridge in the pool. Not my kind of architecture, speaking about my style of project, but this creativity and flamboyance amazes me, and for sure deserves a place in he world :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Interlude: Lanzarote through a bus window

It strikes me that I keep prattling about things fitting in with local landscape and vernacular architecture, but I haven't really shown any. Alas, the time I would normally have devoted to building up a catalogue of context shots, was spent on the beach / in the sea. Here are the tiny handful of bus window shots I did muster.


Lanzarote through a bus window #1 by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Lanzarote through a bus window #2 by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Lanzarote through a bus window #3 by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Lanzarote through a bus window #5 by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Lanzarote through a bus window #6 by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 

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LagOmar: Really love the organic shapes, the cave-like spaces, the merger
of architecture and nature, the deep contrasts (white walls and dark lava stone),

with that strong colours (of Bougainvillea etc.) here and there.
Beautiful!


Thinking practically, no place for old people or people with handicaps (the many
stairs!), but a superb holiday and party space for young, healthy and wealthy
people.


A place for elitist cave men. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Part 3: Jameos del Agua (1966-68)

As you can see in the last couple of pictures above, my last day had the absolute temerity to be overcast. Poor weather meant poor mood, and both of those in their own way result in poor photography, which results in poor mood...

which goes some way to explaining why this was probably my least favourite part of the trip, even though with hindsight, it's still a cool place. I did feel a bit shortchanged as this place cost more than either of the previous two (or next two) but occupied me for less time then any of them. in fairness, part of it was closed for renovation.

anyway, this was Manrique's first major project on his return to Lanzarote, working with a certain Jesús Soto to convert a series of lava tube / cave openings into a tourist/artistic centre.

the first chamber is a natural salt water lagoon (we are very near the sea) containing a unique species of blind miniature lobster, Munidopsis polymorpha. It blows my mind that the entire species only exists here, in this one cave. Unfortunately I couldn't photograph it, I only barely managed a single almost-focused/non-blurry shot of the cave in general.


Jameos del Agua - crab chamber by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

From here we proceed to a sort of artificial, open-air version of the 'lagoon', with the classic searing contrast of black lava and bright white curves


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

I was just hung up and grumpy at that grey sky. 'It's not right, damnit', I thought to myself pompously. 'This place is supposed to be seen and photographed under blue sky and sunshine.'

Actually, looking back on it, having the frame blend out to white at both ends in shots like this...


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

...had much potential that I should have tried to work with. But instead, I marched straight to the next bit, which was closed, so then the next, which was the auditorium.

Looking to the stage, Nature wins over Art, with the tiered seating very minimalist and the cave otherwise 'raw'.


Jameos del Agua - auditorium by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Looking the other way, the installation of mirrors across the back wall of the cave, and a large hanging sculpture, it seems Art has the upper hand over Nature.


Jameos del Agua - auditorium by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Then to an upper mezzanine sort of level, providing the opportunity for more half-hearted and overcast overview shots of the place:


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Even this in dull light and grumpy mood, I couldn't help but take a few minutes zoning into the minimalist beauty of Manrique's pallette. No red this time, only splashes of green, but deliciously crisp and bold combinations of black, white and blue everywhere.


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Jameos del Agua - pool by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

There are also a few bars/restaurants here that I didn't patronise or photograph, instead hurrying onward...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Interlude: Cueva de los Verdes

Part of the reason I was grumpy was that I didn't really want to be visiting these places at all. In an ideal world, I would either be checking out the volcano craters in Timanfaya National Park or visiting the Mirador del Río viewpoint at the tip of the island. But both of those options had proved somewhere between impractical and impossible by public transport, and I wasn't inclined to splash heaps of money on a taxi or guided tour group.

Frustratingly there was a signpost from Jameos del Agua indicating the Mirador del Río just 9km away. I walk 9km regularly enough on domestic rambles around the west country, so this was tantalisingly close to being possible.... while ultimately stil being impossible. Problem one, I was more or less at sea level, and my endpoint was up 450m+ of steep volcano. 9km flat and 9km up a mountain are very different walks. Problem two, even if I could hike there before it closed (very dubious), I had to get back.

Anyway, it was pointless, the cloud cover was even thicker, almost a murky misty low visibility to the air, so there would be no view from up there anyway.

So I resigned myself to going in a second cave - or really, a second part of the same cave, since the Cueva de los Verdes is part of the same 7-8km long lava tube system, which even extends out below the seabed.

Cueva de los Verdes was developed for public/tourist visits in 1965-66 by our old friend Jesús Soto, who created a lighting and sound/music scheme. I don't know how much of his work is still unchanged in today's tours.

It's an extensive and atmospheric system although the sound design/ambient music drowned out the tour guide much of time for me, which was somewhat irritating, I could have lived without it frankly. My photography was not up to anything either, since I hate flash and didnt have a tripod and it's unsurprisingly dark. One of those ones that I quickly accepted would be an experience for my memory, not my memory card. Anyway, here are the few passable snaps I got:


Cueva de los Verdes by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Lava texture in Cuevas de los Verdes by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Lava texture in Cuevas de los Verdes by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Like Jameos del Agua it has a music/concert space within the cave.


Concert hall in Cueva de los Verdes by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

The best part is when this terrifying huge void opens up in the floor for you to fall through...except...


Cueva de los Verdes - mirror lake by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Cueva de los Verdes - mirror lake disturbed by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


And when I emerged from the tour, miracle of miracles!


The hopeful road to the Mirador by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

The clouds had broken up, the sun was (mostly) shining. And having already walked up to this cave from the main road, the Mirador was now only, what, 8km away? Just the other side of the volcano on the horizon. And I was armed with a cheese sandwich, half a bottle of pepsi, and 13 euros, with my hotel 30 miles away and a flight to miss first thing next morning. What could possibly go wrong? Let's start walking!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Part 4: Mirador del Río (1973-74)

Of course, despite my playful narrative in the previous post, it is quite pointless to try and build a cliffhanger about whether or not I got there, because I already told you at the start I was showing you four Manrique locations. And needless to say I did not walk to the Mirador, without any water it would have been extremely stupid to try.

What I did try, for the first time in my life, was hitchhiking.

Successfully hitching to places has generally always struck me as ridiculously improbable: being single, shaven-headed young man, probably the most potentially intimidating or dangerous demographic to pick up, I assumed I would have a tiny % of drivers risk stopping for me, of whom a tiny % would be going somewhere relevant.

But here I was actually quietly confident of success. The scenario was much more promising. For starters I'm now getting middle aged, greying and podgy, and with camera on shoulder and sunhat on head, very obviously a dorky tourist - so probably not so concerning a prospect :lol:

Most of all, I knew that pretty much by definition, 100% of the cars in the Cueva car park were (fellow) tourists. And I knew that if they wanted to go to Punta Mujeres, Teguise, Arricefe, Timanfaya, Playa Blanca, << insert basically every location of interest on the entire island >> they would turn left out of the car park. If they turned right, there had to be an 80-90% chance they were going to the Mirador. The road didn't really go anywhere else that would register on a tourist itinerary.

The first couple of cars sailed past and I was surprised how naturally disheartening that was, even though intellectually speaking I knew I had to fully expect a high failure rate. I was just talking myself into the necessary patience when the third car approached, I watched through the windscreen as a pair of retired ladies looked at each other with a mutual "shall we? f*** it, why not?" shrug, and stopped for me! amazing, this was too easy!

I think they were german, or germanic at least, possibly danish or something, not sure. But alas, the words "Mirador del Rio" drew a completely blank face. They didn't know it; they were going to Ozorla. No use. I thanked them for stopping anyway and continued walking. I figured I had enough time and liquid to walk as far as the junction to the slightly more 'main road' where there would be more traffic, try my luck for about half an hour, and assuming it was a washout, walk back to Jameos del Agua for the bus. There wasn't a bus for a couple of hours anyway, so it was either that or just sit around doing nothing, had to be worth a shot right?

Anyway, a dozen or so other cars sailed past me as I walked a km or so, and then my saviours arrived, a lovely french couple, perhaps roughly my parents age, who were heading to the Mirador and invited me to jump in.

And so with very special thanks to them (not that they will ever read an english language skyscraper forum in a million years), my trip was rounded off with a spectacular highlight.


Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Entering through a curvy corridor, theatrically building the expectation for the view, as you enter the main cafe space...


Mirador del Río cafe by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Whereupon obviously my first instinct was a detailed photographic assessment of the architectural detailing and sculptural installations--

No, just kidding, obviously I rush straight outside to soak up the astonishing panorama of the Chinijo Archipelago.


Panoramic view of La Graciosa from Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

I must stress how utterly inadequately any of these photographs capture the sheer scale of this vista, even the stitched pano. Perhaps especially the stiched pano. La Graciosa, the largest and only populated member of the Chinijo group, is 8km long. Far too big to fit in a single frame:


La Graciosa by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Caleta del Sebo from Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


La Graciosa by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

And yet appears like a toy beneath us. And even that occupies only a fraction of our total view. To the south west, a figure posing on the clifftop offers some sense of scale to the 475m escarment upon which we perch:


Silhouetted on the cliff top by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Human for scale by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


View south west from Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Although I didnt manage to photograph them, I saw several hanggliders above these cliffs to the north east (this becomes relevant later):


Batería del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

The cliffs look quite gently sloping in that shot, but I can assure you that looking over the edge felt considerably more vertiginous...


Batería del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


View down the escarpment by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

^^ there is a tiny grey circle immediately by the sea, just slightly to the left of the middle of that shot, which if you zoom in, is the remains of a house or building of some sort. Well, like I said, the scale was impossible to capture...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
From outside, it is very noticable how un-noticable the Mirador construction is. So camoflagued with the rock as to be almost invisible. Nature is centre stage here.


Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Having soaked in this glorious Nature, time to step indoors and admire the Art.


Mirador del Río cafe by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Mirador del Río cafe by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Mirador del Río cafe by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Such a spectacular spot to stop for a sandwich and savour the seascape from one's seat, speechless :p


Mirador del Río cafe by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Mirador del Río cafe by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr

Some details from inside:


Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Mirador del Río by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Spiral staircase by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr


Spiral staircase by stevekeiretsu, on Flickr
 
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