Only an artist like César Manrique could have imagined a place like this in the land where he was born, Lanzarote. So thanks to the imagination of César Manrique, the cactarium has become home to more than 4,500 plants of 450 different cactus species from all over the world.
The entrance to the place, which is located in the township of Teguise, is easily recognisable thanks to a giant sculpture by Manrique in the shape of a cactus. Inside, more than 5,000 square metres of black volcanic earth that contrasts with the green of the plants and the blue of the sky.
César Manrique designed this place in the shape of an amphitheatre, organised in terraces to show off the different varieties of plants. The cactarium is built over an old volcanic crater. In the islands these places are known roferas and were the source of the volcanic sand (also known in the area as picón) with which the farmers could cover their plants and thus allow the humidity to reach the roots. César Manrique certainly chose the right place to plant the cacti so they would always have water. And so that nobody would forget the origin of this place, he left some huge, compact picón monoliths that reach as high as the surrounding plants.
With all these cacti –large, small, extended, round– from all over the world –Peru, Tanzania, Madagascar or Morocco– César Manrique wanted to break the monotony with small lagoons containing coloured fish and water lilies that bring freshness and colour. And to round out the scene, atop a nearby hill is one of the last windmills on the island.
While Manrique began thinking about his Jardín de Cactus in the 1960s, it wasn’t built until the 80s, when the Lanzarote assembly approved the project. It finally opened in 1990, and would be Manrique’s last work, since he died in an automobile accident two years later. The Jardín de Cactus was the last of many famous places he designed in the Canaries. But in the cactus garden he created a perfect composition to highlight the lovely landscape of his island. It could only be a product of the imagination of César Manrique.