The route to the north of Lanzarotes is quite distant to most of the tourist resorts. If you are just a few days on the island, the temptation to spend the days at one of the beaches in the south of the island is quite big. Nevertheless, the magic of the north is worth a trip. The grotesque beauty of the island unfolds here – and you can appreciate the grotesque beauty of Lanzarote – far beyond the fire mountains in the Timanfaya National Park.
In the first part of the North Tour, the route led through the vineyards in La Geria through Teguise up to the Mirador del Rio. The second part of this tour starts right there and leads to other sights, partly created by the great son of the island, Cesar Manrique.
Der Mirador del Rio bietet sicherlich den atemberaubendsten Ausblick der Insel. Hoch über der Meerenge zur kleinen Nachbarinsel La Graciosa kann man Stunden verweilen und in die Ferne schauen. Aus der Höhe weckt die Nachbarinsel mein Interesse. Ich meine zwei Ansiedlungen – zumindest einen Hafen – zu erkennen. Zum allergrößten Teil muss sie unbewohnt sein. Die einsamen Strände reizen mich. Doch um die Sehenswürdigkeiten Jameos del Agua, Cueva de los Verdes und den Jardin de Cactus zu sehen, sollte man zügig wieder aufbrechen. Also reiße ich mich von der Aussicht los und laufe die wenigen Meter zurück zu meinem Mietwagen.
Die Straße geht nun die meiste Zeit bergab und schlängelt sich durch schwarz-grünes Gestein hinunter nach Orzola. Die Hafenstadt im Norden bietet Überfahrten nach La Graciosa an. Ich steige aus und notiere mir die Zeiten. Im kleinen Supermercado nahe des Hafens kaufe ich mir noch ein Bocadillo und breche schließlich zu den letzten Höhepunkten meines Trips auf.
Picture by NorbertNagel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The LZ-1 leads me right along the northeast coast of the island until a parking lot opens up in the middle of the landscape where several coaches and rental cars have arrived: Jameos del Agua. Several times I have led friends, guests and visitors here. But I could not explain to anyone before what Jameos del Agua really is. The tourist attraction is all at once: art and culture, concert hall, cave, café, home of rare, white crabs and an eye-candy anyway. Created and devised by Cesar Manrique, who here proves once more how he reconciles nature and human, and incorporates civilization into the natural events, which were created here mostly by lava flows of the past.
Immediately after the entrance, you climb down a winding, steep staircase to the restaurant in the grotto, where you can see from the terrace on the underground lake. There lives a white cancer species, which usually occurs only in ocean depths of over 2000 meters and reaches a length of about 1.5 cm. The water level of the lake rises and falls with the tides as the grotto, although it has no direct connection to the sea, is fed by seawater seeping through the rock.
From the lake, a planted stepped staircase leads up to the white swimming pool designed specifically for this frame of César Manrique, but is no longer used for bathing. The basin is fed by a small artificial waterfall. A staircase leads up to the house of the volcanoes, where the volcanic events of Lanzarotes are explained. From a restaurant with partial covered terrace, one has a view into the grotto on the pool and over the wide lava landscape outside Jameos del Aqua. In most cases, I forget to show my guests the real core feature: behind the white pool is a concert hall with about 600 seats integrated into the grotto. But as always, I can hardly get my eyes off the polo. Manrique has succeeded in its design a very big throw.
Afterwards it is only a few meters by car. On the side of the road, facing the sea, there is another car park with another hole in the ground that is worth seeing: the Cueva de los Verdes. The name “de los Verdes” refers either to the name of the explorers or to the former inhabitants; The name is therefore only indirectly related to the direct translation of the Spanish verde.
The Cueva de los Verdes is only part of the seven-kilometer-long cave system, one of the longest lava tunnels on earth. It begins at Montaña Corona and ends at the coast below the water surface in about 50 meters deep. Large parts are still unexplored, less than 50 percent are accessible. In earlier centuries the Lanzaroteños sought protection from pirates. In 1964 the Cueva was opened to the public. It consists in principle of two superimposed long tubes and can be committed on a length of about one kilometer. The refined indirect lighting of the Cueva was installed by Jesús Soto, a friend of the artist and architect César Manrique. Gregorian singing is played during the tour.
The tour, which takes around forty minutes, leads to a large natural hall with an artificial stage. Although the acoustics of this 300-seat concert hall are very good, there is only rarely a concert. The highlight of each tour is a “view into the depth”. But you should look at yourself.
Just in time I reach the Jardin de Cactus near Guatiza before it is closed. In 1989, César Manrique had begun to add this botanical garden amidst some opuntia fields to an abandoned stone quarry – his last great work before his death. In 1990 the Jardín de Cactus was officially opened. On the northern edge of the village is a restored Gofio Mill. The cacti garden is terraced like an amphitheater, also elements which are reminiscent of Japanese gardens characterize the architecture. The ground is covered with volcanic lapilli, the volcanic ash, which is used for the dry field. Altogether more than 10,000 specimens of 1400 different species of cacti thrive on 5000 square meters. Architecturally sensitive, Manrique also has the associated bar-restaurant built from the volcanic rock of the area.
Ich verweile ein wenig auf der Mühle am anderen Ende des Gartens, bis ich schließlich durch die Kakteen hindurch zum Ausgang laufe, den Mietwagen anlasse und in Richtung Süden fahre.