César Manrique is probably one of the most influential men in Lanzarote, if you have been over there is a good chance that you have seen this man's work. It was César Manrique that saw the potential of tourism and actually campaigned successfully to be a part of it. One of the notable things about his influence is the lack of high rise hotels and buildings on the island.
César Manrique was born in Puerto Naos, Arrecife on 24th April 1919, born a few minutes after his twin sister and has another sister and a brother, all of whom are alive today. In 1934 his father, His a food merchant, bought a lot in Caleta de Famara and also built a house by the beach. This house left a lasting memory with him "My greatest happiness is to recall a happy childhood, five month summer vacation in the Caleta and the Famara beach, with its eight kilometres of clean and fine sand framed by cliffs of more than four hundred meters high that reflected on the beach like in a mirror. That image has been engraved in my soul as something of extraordinary beauty that I will never forget in all of my life."
He volunteered in the Spanish Civil War on Franco's side, where he had an awful experience which he refused to speak about after it had ended. Once the war was over in 1939, he returned to Arrecife and still wore his military uniform. After greeting his family, he went to the roof of his flat, where he proceeded to take off his clothes then angrily stepped over them, sprayed them with petroleum and burning them.
After the Civil War he decided to go to university, where he studied Technical Architecture but he left after two years. He travelled to Madrid in 1945, where he entered for a scholarship at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and studied as an Art Professor and painter, graduating five years later. In 1964 he heeded advice from his cousin, Manuel Manrique, who was a New York Psychologist and a writer to travel New York, staying there for roughly two years.
Throughout his life he met and learned from many famous people such as Andy Warhol, Rita Hayworth, King Hussein, Helmut Kohl, Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González and many more.
César Manriquen was a very frugal person. When it came to vices such as drinking and smoking he didn't take part in these activities, also he didn't allow people around him to smoke. He would also go to sleep early and wake up at dawn so that he could begin his work in his studio very early. On the 25th September 1992, at the age of 73, he was sadly a victim of a car accident in Arrecife, Fundacion. It was quite ironic though, as due to his frugal nature he hated the large amount of vehicles on the island.
All around around Lanzarote you can see some of his works, such as the Mirador del Rio which is a viewpoint overlooking the neighbouring island of Graciosa, the Jardin de Cactus which is a place where you can see over 1,100 different cacti and the Jameos del Agua - a concert venue and nightclub for 600 people in a cave. There are many more of his works, as well as works that have been influenced by his. If you are staying at one of the Lanzarote villas be sure to look out for them.