Hours: Open 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Prices: Adults, € 8; Children (7 to 12), € 4.
Recommended hours: Early (10 a.m.) or late (around 3:30 p.m. or later). Your visit will be much more relaxed at these times. This Manrique masterpiece is thus taken in with greater serenity.
Map of location:
Los Jameos del Agua, as well as the Cueva de los Verdes, are located within a volcanic tunnel, created by the eruption of La Corona Volcano, in the neighbouring town of Yé. Los Jameos del Agua is found in the part of the tunnel closest to the coast. Its name refers to the existence of an underground lake, a very unique geological formation. It was created by a process of filtration, as it is found below sea level.
This site is made up of at least three jameos, or openings in the ground. The “Small Jameo”, closest to the visitor entrance, the “Large Jameo” and a third one called the “Round Jameo.” The tunnel, formed by the eruption of La Corona Volcano, is one of the largest in the world, at some 4 miles in length. The partial detachment of the ceiling of a section of the tunnel forms the structure known as a “Jameo,” (a term of native origin), which in fact is no more than an opening in the ground which allows access to the various caves. Four miles of tunnel extend from the volcano’s crater all the way to the shore, where for nearly a mile it continues underwater in what is called the “Tunnel of Atlantis” [Tunel de la Atlantida].
The Birth of an Idea
The Jameos del Agua are home to the first Centre for Art, Culture and Tourism, created by Cesar Manrique, a site which encourages reflection on one of its creative pillars: Harmony between nature and artistic creativity. Due to a certain level of abandonment, in the early 1970’s this site had to undergo extensive cleaning and reconditioning. Although the works on display have been expanded over the years, the first phases of this project were opened to the public in 1966.
The unique morphology of the volcanic tube inspired several changes to the initial project, as its founders explored new creative alternatives to ensure that the solutions adopted where the most appropriate ones. The Jameos del Agua in their totality can be attributed to Cesar Manrique. However, the project’s complexity and the numerous trips of Manrique to New York during the beginning years of the Centre’s creation, especially during the early phases of the tunnel’s adaptation, made it necessary to delegated much of the work to one of his closest collaborators: artist Jesus Soto, who was the creator of the spectacular lighting and adaptation of Cueva de los Verdes.
Outside the centre you’ll find a small receiving area with stone walls, a white facade and the remains of a ship’s kiln. After passing through a small entrance door you’ll descend an ingenious spiral staircase made of volcanic rock and wood, which will gradually bring you to a point where you can view from above the first interior sight: The “Small Jameo.” Here, abundant vegetation stands out as well as the ornamental elements that enrich the visual impact of the Jameo’s structure. A majestic restaurant has recently been added to this area. Oddly enough, it opens only Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for dinner. It has a very limited menu, but the space itself is truly luxurious. We recommend you make a reservation on Monday for a special dinner.
Inside the enclosure you’ll find a natural lake with unusually clear and transparent waters. This space, having received very little adaptation, conserves the structure’s barrel vault shape. This cathedral-like quality is reinforced by the presence of a hole in the upper part of the vault from which, on sunny days, a beam of light is projected overhead, extending towards the depths of the water.
The “Small Jameo” is part of the first phase of the Jameos de Agua adaptation project which, since 1966, has been at the helm of the Lanzarote Government, a project focused on the adaptation and revitalization of emblematic spaces of the island’s geography. Originally, the Jameos del Agua site was conceived as a venue for shows and events: from that period you’ll notice the bar, the entrances and the marble dance floor.
This underground aquatic habitat is home to a rich animal life; more than a dozen species of great scientific interest are found here, including the celebrated blind albino crab (Munidopsis polymorpha), which populate the rocky depths of the lake. The darkness of the cave is what causes the lack of pigmentation in this animal. This rare species, found no where else in the world, is just one centimetre in length and whitish in colour, and has come to serve as a symbol for the Jameos del Agua.
At some point, you’ll come across a footbridge, blended into the environment, which allows you to cross the lake lengthwise, and, after ascending past a landscaped wall, you can access the “Large Jameo”. The ingenious artistic treatment of this area really makes this section stand out from the rest. Your senses will take in an exuberant and exotic garden with lush vegetation including palm trees, cacti, croton shrubs and fig trees, all surrounding a curvy pool of intense blue waters. The rounded walls of the jameo add to this picturesque space. The white smooth pool contrasts with the dark, rugged rocks, and you’ll feel you’re in a true underground oasis.
The curved shapes created by Manrique contribute to the space’s strong organic sense, which is mimicked in the many elements that make up this striking environment. Especially remarkable is the 100 years old palm tree which, hanging above the pool, provides a pleasant shade. Continuing past the “Large Jameo” you’ll come across another impressive installation. A spectacular Auditorium, opened in 1977, takes full advantage of the interior of the volcanic cave. The auditorium offers a fantastic architectural epilogue to your tour. Without a doubt, the Jameos del Agua represent one of the most original works of Cesar Manrique, a truly magical and personal piece among his broad and unconventional portfolio.