Discover Lanzarote – The Island of Fire
Nick Ball is the editor of Lanzarote Guidebook, the in-depth island information guide. Visit their website to download a copy of their comprehensive guidebook free of charge.
Spain is home to some fantastic and hugely popular holiday destinations. But few can match the surreal scenery of Lanzarote. As much of the terrain here resembles the surface of the moon. Forged by a series of enormous eruptions which rocked the island during the 18th and 19th centuries. Creating a landscape so dramatic that it has been used as a backdrop for numerous movies. Most recently Broken Embraces, the latest release from Spanish director Pedro Almódovar.
Lanzarote was first conquered for the Spanish crown by a Norman nobleman called Jean de Bethencourt in the early 1400´s. Rapidly evolving to become an important strategic base in the nascent Spanish empire. Providing a refueling post for the galleons that traversed the Atlantic with Inca silver and African slaves between the New World and the Old.
Modern package tourism first took off here during the early 1970´s – as General Franco opened Spain up to tourism in order to help bolster his ailing economy.
Today the island is almost entirely dependent on tourism and welcomes around 1.5 million foreign visitors a year. The bulk of them from sun starved northern European nations such as the UK, Eire and Germany.
Along with the other six islands in the Canarian archipelago Lanzarote enjoys a semi tropical climate. Characterised by very low rainfall and temperatures which nudge the early 20´s Celsius even during December and January. Thanks to its location around 70 miles off the coast of south west Morocco. And with flights to Lanzarote from the UK taking just four hours this is the closest genuine winter sun destination to mainland Europe.
Tourist accommodation is available across the island – with a heavier concentration in the three main resorts of Playa Blanca, Costa Teguise and Puerto del Carmen. Which is where visitors will find the largest selection of apartments, hotels and villas in Lanzarote.
The island’s number one attraction is -without doubt – the Timanfaya National Park. Home to over 300 now dormant volcanoes and 200km square of twisted lava fields. This entire region is known locally as the Moñtanas del Fuego – the Fire Mountains – and is one of the most treasured national parks in Spain, welcoming close to one million visitors every year.
As well as great weather all year round and dramatic, volcanic scenery Lanzarote is also home to the incredible creations of a local artist and architect called César Manrique. Who developed a series of unique attractions that all work in careful harmony with Lanzarote´s volcanic terrain.
The most impressive of these is the Jameos del Agua – which was a collapsed tunnel in the lava flow before Manrique transformed it into a stunning underground concert venue and nightclub in the late 1960´s. A project which helped to put Lanzarote on the tourist map for the first time.
Manrique went on to create a further six similar sites around the island and was instrumental in helping to secure UNESCO protected biosphere status for Lanzarote in 1994.