Cesar Manrique. Even if you come to Lanzarote for the beach and spend your entire week lying in the sand – you will still hear about Cesar Manrique. The man, the legend and the person that get a lot of credit for making Lanzarote the beautiful island that it is today. We got totally fascinated by this man and couldn’t get enough information about him. There is an interesting story surrounding Cesar Manrique.
Cesar Manrique – A unique man
Wherever you are or whatever you are doing, you will see Manrique’s work all over the island. He was a true artist. He painted, sculpted, built houses and tourist attractions. The locals in Lanzarote say that it is thanks to him that Lanzarote does not have any skyscrapers (except for one). He was a pioneer in connecting people with nature. Even if he is no longer with us his presence is all over the island. But there are also some people that weren’t a huge fan of this man. People that didn’t like all the freedom the council gave Manrique to do “whatever he wanted with the island”.
There are even some people that say that his death was not an accident. But let’s back up a bit first. I won’t be giving you all of his biography here but there are some things that I want to share about this influential man. If you want to get more information about Cesar Manrique, there is a documentary named “Taro – El Eco de Manrique”. You can buy it all over the island of Lanzarote or you can watch it on youtube if you know Spanish. I am yet to find it with English subtitles. However, I did see a big part of the movie during our visits to his house and the Cesar Manrique Foundation.
Cesar Manrique wanted to embed people with nature
There was a time when the artist moved out of Lanzarote and lived in New York and worked as an artist. But after a while, he started to long for his beautiful island and birthing place so he came back. Once he was back, he dedicated his life to show people how beautiful Lanzarote truly is. He created some of the most visited places to this day and some of the main tourist attractions on the island. At the same time, he somehow kept it simple and let nature do the talking.
He said that he was maturing until he was 25 years. According to his friends, he was always playing. All of his work was done playing and even when he was in his 70’s he kept being playful. Watching the movie Taro, I felt that I got a feel of who he was. By visiting the places that he created, I kept getting more and more fascinated. By the end of it – I couldn’t be anything else than a huge fan of Cesar Manrique myself.
The council gave Cesar Manrique free creating space
It is said that the artist could do whatever he pleased on the island and he used that power. He was the one that said that the houses in Lanzarote should be white and could only have some details in the color green, brown or blue. He said that none of the houses (except for the churches) were allowed to be taller than the palm trees. If you have been in Lanzarote, you know that it is not the fact since the Gran Hotel and Spa in Arrecife is a tall building – way taller than a palm tree. But the hotel was built during a time when Cesar Manrique wasn’t on the island.
He called the resorts that started popping up “monsters” and was mad that they were destroying the sea line. He could not stop the resorts from being build but he made sure that they were not tall. To this day, there is only that one hotel that is a skyscraper and that is a great thing if you ask us. Sure there need to be hotels if tourists want to come and visit but there are so many skyscrapers in the world that it is nice to visit an island without them!
Showing beauty without to huge impact on nature
All the places that you can visit that are made by Cesar Manrique are beautiful and really close to nature. We met a Norwegian art educator that was visiting Lanzarote for the sixth year. Sigrun Rafter is well renowned in Oslo, Norway and it was really interesting to hear what she thought about Manrique’s work of art.
Manrique really set his mark on this island. You can see and feel him everywhere and I believe that he made this island into what it is to this day. I have heard some controversy about people disliking him. Disliking him for creating different rules according to buildings and other things but I like his work. He was an important man to this island.
Cesar Manrique is all over the Island
If you arrive in Lanzarote by airplane, Cesar Manrique’s artwork is there to greet you. And they are all around you on the Island and there is no way to escape it (you don’t want to escape it so no worries). There are several tourist attractions that you can visit that he created. I believe that it is impossible to list them all because some of them are artwork that is hanging in private properties and/or hotels. However, there are a lot of places for you to go and see some of Cesar Manrique’s work.
Tourist attractions to visit by Cesar Manrique
- Jameos Del Agua
- Jardin de Cactus
- Mirador del Rio
- Cesar Manrique Foundation
- Al Campesino
- Cesar Manrique’s house museum
- El Diablo Restaurante
- LagOmar museum
- Museo Internacional de Arte Contemporaneo – MIAC
- Los Hervideros
Was Cesar Manrique’s death an accident or murder?
Cesar Manrique was on his way home after a meeting when he had a fatal accident in a roundabout just outside of the Cesar Manrique Foundation. Soon after that, he was declared dead at the hospital. To this day, people are talking about the “accident”. Some seem to think that he was murdered and that the car that rammed him, did it on purpose. And then there is one rumor that says that Manrique had eye surgery just days before his accident and that he was not allowed to drive. The day of the meeting, his driver got sick so Cesar decided to drive himself.
One thing that is often talked about is that he died in a car crash after years of talking that there were to many cars on the island. At the place of the crash (a roundabout just outside of his foundation) close to the entry to Costa Teguise. The roundabout is usually decorated with a wind toy sculpture. During our stay in Lanzarote, it was removed so we only saw the iron bars that usually hold the sculpture in place.
According to us, Cesar Manrique’s death was an accident – plain and simple. The only thing that makes us wonder is that each and every guide or local we ask always give us the same answer “I have no opinion in that matter”. Isn’t that a strange answer to give? Well, let us know what you think about this! And let us know what places you visited that are made by the protector of the island – Cesar Manrique.