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Lanzarote: an island of volcanoes and deserts

Lanzarote (845 sq km, 150,000 inhabitants) is the easternmost island of the Canary archipelago. It is located north-east of the island of Fuerteventura and south of the small island of Graciosa. The capital of the island is the town of Arrecife.

Lanzarote is an island of volcanic origin, it has a corrugated landscape formed by mountains and desert areas. Particularly striking is the area of ​​Timanfaya National Park. To the north is the highest peak of the island, Mount Peñas del Chache, in the Famara range, which reaches 670 meters in height. In the southern part of the island is the Ajaches mountain range (608 meters).

Inhabited today by almost 150,000 inhabitants, the island has a barren and deserted natural territory, but in some respects spectacular. There are geological and volcanic phenomena, with areas of recent volcanism, such as those present in the area of ​​the Timanfaya volcanoes. The fauna and flora of the island are also interesting, in fact there are numerous endemic species. Over 40% of the island’s territory is protected by parks or nature reserves.

HISTORY

Known by the Phoenicians and Romans, the island was again visited by the Arabs around the eleventh century. Lanzarote was discovered by Europeans in 1312 thanks to the explorations of the Genoese navigator Lanceloto Malocello. But it was not until 1402 that the Spaniards permanently occupied the island, when an expedition led by Juan de Bethencourt and Gadifer de la Salle arrived. A few years later the island of Lanzarote was granted in fiefdom by the king of Castile to the Herrera family who governed it until the end of the eighteenth century.

Lanzarote is today an important tourist destination in the Canaries. The island is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and 42% of its territory is protected by some form of environmental protection. Lanzarote is home to several landscapes of great naturalistic and geological value.

THE NATURAL PARK OF TIMANFAYA

The most important attraction of the island are the natural scenarios that can be admired in the Timanfaya National Park (Parque Nacional de Timanfaya) which is located in the central-western part of the island. This area of ​​the island was thus modeled during the eruption of 1730-1736. The excursion along the so-called Ruta de los Vulcanos allows you to admire the most beautiful and panoramic points of the park. In the Montañas del Fuego park it is possible to observe the volcanic manifestations in the form of games that exploit the heat of the volcano.

Near the park of Timanfaya there is the Natural Park of La Geria which protects an area of ​​the south of the island known for the uniqueness of its volcanic landscape as well as for the cultivation of the vine and for the production of wine. In the southern part of the island, in the Macizo de los Ajaches area, there is the most beautiful beach in Lanzarote, the Playa del Papagayo, a very scenic white sand beach.

THE LAVA TUNNEL

In the north of the island is the La Corona volcano, a large volcanic cone whose lavas are approximately 21,000 years old. The great attraction of this part of the island is the large 7 km long underground lava tube that reaches the sea from the volcano and then continues underwater for another 1.5 km. The lava tube is called Túnel de la Atlántida.

The visitor can enter the tunnel and visit it in two tourist equipped points: the Cueva de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua. Cueva de los Verdes is the point where the visitor can enter the lava tube. About 2 km of the lava tube was equipped with lights and can be visited. In the Jameos Grande you can also admire the Concert Hall, a large cavity used for underground concerts.

Jameos del Agua is a magical place where the Lanzarote artist César Manrique wanted to show visitors the harmony between artistic creation and nature. The Jameos are places where the lava tunnel has collapsed and openings have formed. In this center of art, culture and tourism there is also an interesting museum dedicated to volcanology: the Casa de los Volcanes.

THE ISLANDS OF THE ARCHIPELAGO CHINIJO

Another attraction in the north of Lanzarote are the small islands of the Chinijo archipelago. It is a group of islands located north-east of Lanzarote. The archipelago is made up of the islands of Montaña Clara, Alegranza and La Graciosa (the latter being the only one inhabited) and the small islets of Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste. The islands, which are part of the Parque natural del Archipiélago Chinijo, are visible from Lazaronte from the Mirador del Rio viewpoint, a work also commissioned by César Manrique. Access to the island of La Graciosa is possible via a ferry which in about 35 minutes connects the port of Orzola in Lanzarote to the port of the village of Caleta de Sebo.

The capital of the island, the city of Arrecife, has an interesting fishing district, called charco de San Gines, and an eighteenth-century fortress, Castillo de San José, which houses the Museum of Contemporary Art. In the village of Teguise, the ancient capital of the island, there are several valuable buildings. Such as the Governor’s residence (Palacio Spinola), the Iglesia Matriz de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and the 16th century Castillo de Santa Barbara (Guanapay). In the nearby village of Guatiza is the Jardín de Cactus, another work by César Manrique where there are over 1,400 different cactus species. In the vicinity of Teguise, at the Taro de Tahiche is the home of César Manrique which houses a collection of the artist’s works.

HOW TO GET TO LANZAROTE

FLIGHTS: The island of Lanzarote has an international airport located south of the capital Arrecife in the southern part of the island. Lanzarote thanks to its airport is connected as well as with the main Spanish cities with most of the European nations, there are flights from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium , from Austria, Portugal, Italy and the Scandinavian countries.

FERRIES: Another means of transport to reach the island is the ferry. There are regular ferry lines that connect the port of Arrecife in Lanzarote with those of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Cadiz. In the south of the island, the boats connecting the port of Corralejo to the nearby island of Fuerteventura leave from the port of Playa Blanca (time taken 15-20 minutes). From the port of Orzola, in the north of the island, boats leave for the island of La Graciosa.

The climate of Lanzarote.

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