Fundacion Cesar Manrique, Tahiche

Taro de Tahiche / Cesar Manrique’s House

The name of Cesar Manrique is inextricably linked with Lanzarote, the island of his birth. He was famously an architect, a painter and sculptor, an engineer, and an active lobbyist for sustainable tourism. Manrique wanted to make Lanzarote the most beautiful of all the Canary Islands. Many of Lanzarote’s major attractions were developed by or with the help of Manrique. These include:

  • Museo Cesar Manrique – House and studio in Haria with a landscaped garden.
  • Jameos del Agua – Grotto and concert venue.
  • Mirador del Rio – Viewpoint overlooking the island of La Graciosa.
  • Los Salinas hotel in Costa Teguise – Garden and swimming pools.
  • Jardin de Cactus – Garden with over 1,000 varieties of cactuses.
  • Taro de Tahiche – Manrique’s house near Teguise, now the Fundacion Cesar Manrique.
  • International Museum of Contemporary Arts in the Castillo de San Jose, Arrecife.
  • El Diablo – Restaurant in the Timanfaya National Park which uses volcanic heat to cook.
  • Casa Museo del Campesino (House museum of the peasant farmer) near San Bartolome.

Taro de Tahiche was Cesar Manrique’s house for a number of years. This impressive structure is built around five jameos and has picture windows framing the surrounding landscape of lava fields.

What is a jameo?
A feature of volcanic landscapes, a jameo (“ha-may-oh”) is a cave that’s open to the sky. During an eruption molten lava flows and the surface hardens, creating tubes that the lava runs along. Sometimes the roof blows off as pressure builds up inside the tube. As a result, large openings are formed, these are called a jameo.

Fundacion Cesar Manrique

Manrique and some of his friends founded the Fundacion Cesar Manrique in 1982. The aim was to promote architecture that harmonises with the natural environment. In 1987 Manrique moved to a house in Haria and he donated Taro de Tahiche to the Fundacion. It is now a modern art museum. The museum features works by Manrique himself as well as art that he acquired during his life.

The Fundacion is a private, non-profit organisation and money from ticket sales goes toward raising awareness about the art of Lanzarote. It also funds the Fundacion’s artistic, cultural and environmental activities. The Fundacion is a leading opponent against the spread of high-rise buildings on the Spanish coastline and her islands.

Building Taro de Tahiche

Shortly after Manrique returned from America in 1966, he was driving through Tahiche. He noticed the top of a fig tree growing out of a large expanse of petrified lava. He discovered that the tree had taken root in a jameo around 5m in diameter.

Noticing that there were four other jameos of similar size nearby Manrique decided that this would be the place where he would build his house, which he called Taro de Tahiche.

Manrique approached the landowner and offered to buy the land. Luckily, the landowner said it was worthless and he could have as much as he wanted. Manrique now had the perfect challenge.

He would use the natural features of the barren landscape to create an iconic building. This would show the outside world and his critics who had taunted him at college in Madrid, that Lanzarote was much more than just a heap of cinders.

Visiting the Fundacion Cesar Manrique

Tahiche is located in the north of the island not far from Arrecife, Costa Teguise and Teguise. The Fundacion Cesar Manrique is very close to the junction of the LZ-1 and LZ-34 and is open every day (including holidays) from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It’s easy to find the museum as the roundabout at the junction has one of Manrique’s sculptures in the middle of it.

There is a free car park on-site. Alternatively, if you want to use public transport, it’s possible to get to the Fundacion by bus, see Lanzarote Bus Routes and Timetables. There is a small entrance fee. 

Unfortunately, the house is not suitable for wheelchair users. This is because, in order to move from one room to another, you have to negotiate quite narrow corridors and steps.

At the entrance to the property is a very impressive mobile, which looks a bit like a giant child’s toy. The house itself has two levels, one above ground and one below. Filling the garden outside are cacti, plants and at the entrance an overgrown bougainvillaea. At the back of the garden is a stunning wall mural.

Finally, in what used to be the garage, there is a shop selling souvenirs and books, as well as a small cafe-bar.

Inside the House

The entrance is along a passage that allows you to look down onto the swimming pool. The bright blue pool looks really stunning, contrasting with the lava rock that surrounds it. The first room of the house has a large picture window that looks out over the waste ground of the lava field. This is what the land looked like before Manrique brought his extraordinary vision for the house to life.

The ground floor is a gallery, mostly full of works by Manrique. There are also plans and drawings of his projects. In addition, there are a number of pieces from his private collection which includes works by Picasso, Tàpies, Miro and Jesús Soto.

Whitewashed corridors which lead from one Jameo to another make up the downstairs of the house. The style is definitely minimalist 1960s and uses bright colours. Each of the five jameos measures about 5 metres in diameter and has its own distinctive character, furniture and colour.

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