Jameos del Agua in Lanzarote
The Jameos del Agua was the first Centre of Art, Culture and Tourism created by César Manrique, opening to the public in 1977 following a decade of building work to adapt and transform the natural geological structures into the unique tourist attraction it is today.
The Centre is set in an ancient lava tube created when molten lava surged down to the sea from the Corona Volcano above. As the liquid red hot magma followed natural gullies, its surface cooled and solidified forming a tunnel when the lava ceased flowing.
The total length of the tube is about 6 kilometres, part of which extends into the sea, making it one of the longest in the world.
Over time sections of the tunnel roof collapsed forming Jameos, or openings into the dark vaulted spaces below. Today, the Jameos del Agua is an extraordinary blend of the natural and the manmade, its hidden interiors of serpentine white painted flowing passageways and arched natural vaults offering constant surprises at every turn. As is typical with all of the centres designed by Manrique the whole structure is practically invisible at the surface, with only the white painted entrance gates standing above the weathered lava flows. The entrance to the caves are through the Jameo Chico, where wide staircases lead down to a large bar and café set into a vast cave.
Beyond, the high arching roof of the lava tube is intact and, as the cave floor is below sea level, a natural pool of clear salt water has formed from seepage through the volcanic rock. Here, clearly visible against the black rocks are numerous and tiny albino white crabs (Munidopsis Polymorpha) looking like miniature lobsters barely more than a centimetre long.
Living for millennia in the darkness of the lava tube, the minuscule crabs are totally blind and are unique to the island of Lanzarote.
Beyond the lake, across a footbridge, with the ingenious touch which shows Manrique’s brilliance as a designer, the Jameo Grande, a much wider opening in the tunnel roof, reveals a luxuriant exotic garden of fig, palm trees and cacti around a serpentine curving pool of azure blue water. This combination of the natural and the manmade, the rough black lava in vivid contrast with the smooth white shape of the pool , are typical of all of Manrique's Centres of Art Culture and Tourism, creating a space which is exciting and exuberant, and yet which blends in with the landscape of the island.
The last and final surprise of the Jameos del Agua lies just beyond the pool, where the vast vaulted space of the tunnel has been converted into a large auditorium and theatre space, which can seat up to six hundred people. Concerts are regularly held here, and the acoustics are excellent.
Jesus Vicente, Manager of the Jameos del Agua
"he extraordinary thing about the Jameo del Agua is that outside you have no idea what is to be found here."
Throughout the whole complex vantage points though round portholes offer new and unusual vistas, and many of the smaller details, from brass door handles in the shape of the albino crabs, to the ornate lamps shades were all designed by Manrique himself. There is a bar and cafetería where you can try tapas in lunch time and a restaurtant within the complex where dinner is served in the evenings three times a week: On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays the restaurant service is open from 20:00 to 23:30.
Find out more about Lanzarote culture