Jameos del Agua
Referred to by César Manrique as 'the most beautiful nightclub in the world' and by Rita Heyworth, the legendary Hollywood movie star as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Jameos del Agua is arguably the greatest example of the artist's work on Lanzarote.
The Jameos del Agua - like the Cueva de los Verdes - are part of a 6Km long lava tube which formed about 4,000 years ago when the Montaña La Corona erupted. Molten lava continued to flow as the surface hardened, which in turn led to the formation of the tubes, which run down under the Atlantic.
The word Jameos is used in this context to refer to the large openings in the tube which formed when parts of the roof collapsed due to a pressure build up caused by the volcanic gases. It is these open-air caves which Manrique used as the centre piece for the attraction and which have given it a name.
Into The Jameos
The Jameos was conceived by the island born artist and architect Cesar Manrique, during the 1960's. Whilst other Spanish sunspots were busy building golf courses and water parks to attract visitors, Manrique rejected this route. Instead he planned to fuse art with nature on his native Lanzarote and create a unique cultural attraction. Some people thought he was crazy. What could possibly be forged from the lava? But by 1968 they were forced to think again.
You enter the Jameos by climbing down a stone-staircase into the first cave known as 'Jameo Chico', which has been turned into an unusual bar / restaurant, with views over a small lake.
This natural lake has extremely clear water - regulated by the Atlantic Ocean - and is home to a species of blind albino crabs known as 'Jameitos' which are only found on Lanzarote. These crabs have been adopted as the symbol of the Jameos del Agua.
Manrique created an identity or logo for each of the cultural attractions developed under his aegis and symbols of crabs and lobsters are echoed throughout the site – from the big statue welcoming visitors in the car park through to the giant lobster pots used as hanging planters for giant ferns. Through to more minute details such as the lobster shaped door handles into the main concert auditorium.
Crossing the lake, by a narrow footpath, we find ourselves in the 'Jameo Grande'
Although you have probably seen this picture before on a myriad of postcards, nothing is quite like walking out of the dark tunnel to be faced, suddenly with a huge open-air cave lined with tropical plants and the most fantastic swimming-pool you may ever see.
This crystal-clear, turquoise pool is truly paradise, even if you can’t actually use it, as swimming is forbidden. Reputedly, only the King of Spain is allowed to swim here.
From the far end of the 'Jameo Grande' you can access the auditorium which has been constructed in part of the volcanic tube running down to the Ocean.
The auditorium that is located behind the pool was first opened in 1987 but was closed for several years until 2009, due to the need for extensive restoration work. Now completed, the auditorium is used for classical concerts as it has excellent acoustics and also for film screenings. Pedro Almodovar´s film 'Broken Embraces' which was partially shot in Lanzarote had its premier screening here in 2010.