Updated on June 12, 2010
Discover Lanzarote – Volcanoes & Vines
Lanzarote is one of the seven small specks of Spain that comprise the Canary Islands. An archipelago that is located hundreds of miles south of the Iberian Peninsula, just off the coast of what was once the Spanish Sahara in West Africa.
During the 1730´s the island was rocked by one of the modern world’s longest ever volcanic eruptions – lasting over six years. Which devastated the lives of Lanzaroteños, destroying many villages and carpeting some of the islands best agricultural land with lava. As a result, thousands were forced to move and start a new life abroad. Pitching up at points various across Latin and Central America.
But those who stayed were forced to adapt in order to work with this hostile new terrain – displaying enormous depths of ingenuity and resourcefulness in the process.
Viniculture had long been a staple business on the island – with bottles of Malvasia wine from Lanzarote gracing the tables of the Kings and Queens of Europe whilst earning praise and plaudits from no less than William Shakespeare. Who enjoyed an annual stipend of 300 gallons of this heady brew as England’s poet laureate.
Local farmers had long been battling against Lanzarote´s very low rainfall. Which made it problematic to irrigate their crops. Now however they found that they could use volcanic chippings, called picon, to mulch and protect their vines.
As the porous stones captured and then released moisture into the earth. A method that is still used across the island to this day.
Indeed Lanzarote´s volcanic terrain has now become the islands greatest tourist asset. As close to a million visitors every year flock to the Timanfaya National Park which lies at the epicentre of these eruptions. Boasting a raw and eerie scenery that is often likened to the surface of the moon.
Elsewhere a local artist called Cesar Manrique has fused these volcanic vistas with his own artistic aesthetic in order to create a series of breathtaking visitor attractions. Such as his own home and studio, the Cesar Manrique Foundation – which has been constructed out of five bubbles in the lava flow.
You can find out more about Lanzarote and its many attractions by visiting the Lanzarote Guidebook website.