Spain Guide

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Lanzarote Spain

Lanzarote is one of Spain's seven Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean 100 kilometres west of Africa and about 1,000 kilometres from mainland Spain. The island has been destroyed and reborn out of a series of volcanic eruptions which have created one of the most extraordinary landscapes on the planet. It's an island of bizarre beauty; few places on earth can offer so many extraordinary sights within such a small area.

International tourists flock to Lanzarote to enjoy the island's unique combination of spectacular volcanic caves and craters, wonderful beaches and year round sunshine.

The island's airport serves many of the major European cities (flying time from London is four hours) and connects with the other islands in the Canarian archipelago. There are ferry connections with nearby Fuerteventura and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (200 kilometres to the south west).

With an average year round temperature of 22C, Lanzarote is a favourite escape for northern Europeans seeking winter sunshine.

But this is an island which offers so much more than sunshine. In 1987 Lanzarote was declared one of the six universal models of sustainable development by the World Tourism Organization and in 1994 it was declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

Here you'll see sights which are not to be found on the popular Costas of the Spanish mainland fertile agricultural fields amid eerie formations of petrified lava, beaches of black volcanic sand and vineyards growing in the very bowels of volcanic craters. This is an island where restaurants grill meat on volcano powered barbecues!

Lanzarote, which includes the small islands of La Graciosa, Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este y del Oeste, is just 60 kilometres long and 20 kilometres at its widest point. Small it may be.but it boasts some of the world's greatest and strangest natural treasures.

The famous Cueva de los Verdes is a huge chasm within an eight kilometre long volcanic lava tunnel formed by an eruption 5,000 years ago. This incredible cave system, which once provided refuge against pirates and slave traders, connects the Corona volcano with the sea.

Here you'll also find one of the island's top tourist spots the Jameos del Agua which are a spectacular combination of natural and manmade architecture. Lanzarote's most famous son, the artist and sculptor Cesar Manrique, sympathetically created an extraordinary visitor attraction out of volcanic passages and underground grottoes.

The centrepiece is a beautiful, azure lake inhabited by a rare species of blind, albino crab. There are bars and a restaurant around the lake, swimming pools and a concert hall seating 500.

The Jameos del Agua are just one example of the artist's many projects, paintings and sculptures which can be viewed around the island. Manrique was to Lanzarote what Gaudi was to Barcelona. His impact on and legacy to his beloved island are inescapable.

The artist, who died in a car accident on the island in 1992, pined for Lanzarote during his two year stay in New York during the mid sixties. On his return home in 1966 he said: "I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the most beautiful places on the planet, due to the endless possibilities that Lanzarote has to offer."

Many of today's tourists would say he succeeded.