Tahiche

The centrally located town of Tahiche is best known to tourists as the location of the incredible former residence of island born artist and architect César Manrique. But scratch the surface of this interesting urbanization and there’s a whole lot more to explore than just his home alone.

 

César Manrique´s House

Cesar Manrique FoundationIn some ways, Tahiche could be regarded as the birthplace of modern tourism on Lanzarote. As it is here that César Manrique – the man who did so much to shape restrained development and who forged the creation of the island's unique, eco-friendly tourist attractions – first came to international prominence.

Escape From New York

Back in the late 1960´s Manrique – who had just returned to the island after a successful spell in New York – built his now world famous house into the lava fields that dominate large portions of Tahiche.

Whilst out walking on the flow he came across the top of a palm tree jutting out above the black solidified lava. Below lay five large volcanic chambers – allowing him to incorporate these into a truly unique house and working studio.

Manrique´s house became a symbol of his desire to preserve Lanzarote from the onslaught of mass tourism by fusing – as he put it – art with nature.

As well as a model for the development of other attractions on the island in years to come. And the enormous originality of his creation garnered international media interest – which in turn attracted major celebrities of the day such as Omar Sharif, Peter Sellers and Rita Hayworth to the island. So helping to develop the islands popularity with other holidaymakers.

 

Los Aljibes

Los AljibesBut unknown to many visitors Manrique also left another similar imprint on Tahiche just a short walk from his house (which is now home to the Cesar Manrique Foundation). As during the 1970´s he also oversaw the construction of a restaurant called Los Aljibes – which features many of his trademark design touches.

Los Aljibes lies just the other side of the main roundabout in Tahiche – which is dominated by Manrique´s giant wind toy Fobos – and where the artist also sadly met his death in a car crash.

Follow the road from Manrique´s house through the roundabout in the direction of Costa Teguise and Los Aljibes is just a few hundred metres along on the right hand side.

Today the buildings and grounds are used as exhibition and event spaces – but back in the 1970´s they were converted by Manrique from old rain water deposits into an up market eaterie. And it’s not hard to envision how high impact the space must have been – with its high vaulted ceilings, impressive entrance way and attractive gardens.

For many years Los Aljibes remained closed and disused – only officially reopening as a cultural centre in December 2005. And even today it is only used sporadically for exhibitions – so visitors just have to take their chances as to whether they can gain access to the buildings interior. Which is something of a waste as Los Aljibes was amongst Manrique´s first – and some feel best – architectural projects on the island.

 

Tahiche Volcano Park

Tahiche volcano parkA few minutes walk on from Los Aljibes, on the left hand side in the direction of Costa Teguise, lies a small volcanic park, which is well worth a quick visit. Here visitors can see the impact that erosion has had on the volcanic peak of Mt Tahiche whilst also enjoying some fantastic views down towards Costa Teguise and the capital of Arrecife on the coastline below.

Llano de Zonzamas

Tahiche is also home to one of the largest lava fields on the island – and unlike the National Park at Timanfaya tourists can get right up close on foot and even walk across the flow.

The lava fields at Zonzamas extend right through the lower half of Tahiche, from the point of eruption at Montaña Ubique almost as far as the outer reaches of Arrecife – and are an impressive sight in their own right.

Many locals followed Manrique’s lead and also built homes into and above the flow. And away from the houses – walking across the fields in the direction of San Bartolomé – the lava fields are home to a good variety of local bird life such as hoopoes and storks.

Palace of Zonzamas

Best of all – towards the end of the path that runs right through the lava field – lies the bare remains of what was once the Palace of Zonzamas. The one time official residence of the ruler of the Guanche – the islands indigenous pre-Hispanic inhabitants.

In truth today there isn’t that much left to see – beyond stone outlines of the ancient edifice. However this is still regarded as an important archaeological site and is one of the few surviving echoes of Guanche civilization on Lanzarote.

To reach the lava fields at Zonzamas – from Manrique´s house – turn left at the main roundabout in the direction of Teguise.

At the next roundabout – just a few hundred metres up the road – double back down on the same road, taking the first available right by the take away chicken shop into Calle Augustin de la Hoz and follow this road until the tarmac becomes dirt track.

 

Bars & Restaurants in Tahiche

There´s a couple of decent places to stop for a drink or snack when you´re touring Tahiche. Amongst the best are Café Aloe – which is very popular with the locals and which offers some great views over the town and up towards Nazaret.

It’s pretty easy to find – again from Manrique´s house follow the road from the main roundabout up towards Teguise and take the third right into Calle de Unamuno (you´ll know you´ve got the right turning as there is a row of palms in the middle of the road as you turn into it). Café Aloe is at the top of Calle Unamuno – which becomes a one-way road just by the church.

The German Bakery is also a popular spot for a coffee and something sweet.