This weird and wonderful museum is a must-see for anyone visiting Lanzarote.
No single person is more synonymous with Lanzarote than César Manrique. In many ways the whole island is his life’s work and no matter what you do there, you’ll be experiencing the place as Manrique wanted you to.
It’s hard to put Manrique into a category. Born in 1919 he was part artist, interior designer, architect and sculptor as well as being an environmentalist. Above all he believed passionately that the built environment should work in harmony with the natural landscape and campaigned against the intense high-rise developments that he saw as a blight on the other Canary Islands and on the coasts of mainland Spain. He said in the 1960s, when package tourism was taking off:
“I believe that we are witnessing an historical moment where the huge danger to the environment is so evident that we must conceive a new responsibility with respect to the future.”
Manrique designed his home in the 1960s taking full advantage of the volcanic landscape left by the famous eruptions of the 18th century. It was his first major work on the island and remains his best-loved work.
It’s difficult to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it but it’s an incredible marriage of architecture and nature. Starting out when Manrique discovered a fig tree growing out of one of five large volcanic ‘bubbles’, he soon worked on connecting these bubble together to create the foundation of his house.
Around the House
Starting out on the ground floor it seems like many other Canarian houses. A courtyard garden and one-storey construction with thick walls is exactly in keeping with other houses on the island. Its only when you pass through the former living room onto the balcony overlooking the sunken garden that you realise there’s much more to this place than first meets the eye.
The route through the house takes you through the upper floor, where you’ll see much of Manrique’s personal collection of art. Once through you’ll descend to the bubbles.
Each bubble is designed and decorated differently. The first bubble is a relaxing white space with a fountain murmuring quietly in the background. The next bubbles is red and contains a dead fig tree and an incredible statue of a man and a woman.
From the red room you head out into the sunken garden which, despite being quite compact, makes great use of space and has a beautiful swimming pool at its centre. From there you head to the largest of the bubbles and then you take the stairs to what was Manrique’s studio and is now a gallery of his work.
Finally it’s on to a more formal garden outside with a stunning mosaic of bulls in brightly coloured tile, complemented by the plants around it. After taking in all of this natural beauty there is, as always, as small shop and a café where you can sit and contemplate everything you’ve seen.
Opening Hours and Tickets
The House Museum is open 10-6 in the week and 10-3 at weekends. It costs €8 for adults and is free for children under 12.