Jameos del AquaDecember 26, 2016
In a magnificent collaboration between Jesús Soto and César Manrique, Los Jameos del Agua is a creative work built around the landscape of Lanzarote. The grottoes (jameos in local terms) are in a tunnel created by the eruption of La Corona Volcano hundreds of years ago.
The eruption blasted the 6km tunnel which reaches far out into the atlantic. To give an idea of the enormity of the tunnel, it’s big enough to house a full auditorium, further inland Cuevas de los Verdes is located in the same tunnel. Los Jameos del Agua are in the part of the tunnel closest to the coastline, before it reaches out into the ocean, forming Túnel de la Atlantida (the tunnel of Atlantis).
The unique geological formation is made more special by the internal lake which as formed as water filtrates through the volcanic rock beneath sea-level.
The sub-terranean structures are so unique they’ve been designated sites of scientific interest and a Site of Cultural Interest. Manrique and Soto have created an exhibition which integrates well into the Lanzarote heritage.
The idea, borne by Manrique, was to create a harmony between the natural features of Jameos del Agua and artistic creation. Although most of the work is attributed to Manrique, the project was very complex, and coincided with his many trips to New York. Manrique’s close friend Jesús Soto designed the illumination and refitting of Cueva de los Verdes – whcih is linked with the creation of Jameos del Agua.
In the 1960s, the first parts of the caves began to open to the public, but it was 1977 by the time the whole area was complete, including the auditorium. Work is continuing well into the new millennium, with installations being set up for research into scientific and education work in vulcanology.
As soon as you step inside the Jameos, you’ll find that Manrique has set out to make you want to stop and think, as you descend a spiral staircase of volcanic rock and wood, to gradually view the first grotto – Jameo Chico. The first to open, it is decorated with vegetation and ornaments which fill the structure of the Jameo. Back in 1966, it was intended that this grotto would be used as a concert hall. The bar and marble dance-floor still exist.
The lake in Jameo Chico is completely natural, and remarkably clear. The waters are purified and filtered through the volcanic rock. This area of the cave hasn’t been touched by man. The area is home to unique endemic species such as the famous blind albino crabs. You cross the lake over a footbridge to come to Jameo Grande – home to an exotic garden made up of palms, cactus, crotos and fig trees. The serpentine pool framing some with an intense blue border.
Continuing past Jameo Grande, there’s another unique construction for Lanzarote. The auditorium makes use of another volcanic grotto. Concerts are still held there frequently.
Jameos del Agua – Hombre
Jameos del Agua Auditorium – Edmundo Sáez