Lanzarote, the fourth largest of the Spanish archipelago, the Canary Islands, is a very popular holiday destination with tourists flocking from all over Europe.
Lanzarote is a tourist favorite thanks to its year round climate, thanks to its location and close proximity to the Sahara desert. Even during the winter months Lanzarote enjoys 8 hours of sunshine and temperatures that rarely drop below 20 degrees Celsius.
However, whilst the tourist industry plays a major part in the economy of Lanzarote, there is much more to it than hotels, nightclubs, restaurants and beaches. Lanzarote was thought to have been named "The Red Mountains" after the it was born out of fiery volcanic eruptions around 35 million years ago! It is said that Lanzarote, along with the other Canary Islands was formed as part of the break up of the African and American continental plates.
One of the most magnificent natural attractions on Lanzarote is the Timanfaya National Park. The park that is sparse in vegetation and distinctly identifiable by air from the number of large craters on show, tells the story of volcanic eruptions that took place during 1730 and 1736. The eruptions of the 1730's are known as the greatest in Europe and saw many residents on Lanzarote take refuge in Gran Canaria.
To this day areas around the Timanfaya park still measure temperatures of 600 degrees just 13 metres below the ground that you stand on. You can see demonstrations of how hot this is within the park, through geyser demonstrations and watch straw set on fire as it is pushed just metres underground.
Whilst the eruptions helped to forge Lanzarote's natural landscape, in more recent times a local artist, Cesar Manrique, helped to shape Lanzarote as we know it today in terms of the style of buildings, local sculptures, paintings and genius natural attractions that are scattered around the island. You could say that Manrique used Lanzarote as his canvas.
Some of the Manrique creations that are open as visitor attractions on Lanzarote include Mirador del Rio, a lookout built into the northern cliffs with amazing views over La Graciosa (a neighboring island) and Jameos del Agua, a lava tunnel containing a natural pool that is home to albino crabs (said to be the only place in the world where they can be found). Jameos del Agua also has an auditorium / concert hall built into the lava landscape. The lava based rock formations that line the walls of the auditorium are said to creating amazing acoustics that really bring classical music alive.
The legacy of Manrique is still very much alive today. Apart from a few large hotels, there are no high rise buildings and all buildings are painted white with either blue or brown door and window frames. It is because of this, along with the barren landscape that Lanzarote stands out from the other islands that make up the Canary archipelago.