Mirador del Río
Located 400 metres high, on the Risco de Famara, the Mirador del Río is one of César Manrique’s most representative architectural creations as it shows a series of artistic and architectural details and his eagerness to combine art and nature.
The building has the peculiarity that is barely visible from the outside thanks to a subtle and ingenious camouflage manoeuvre of hiding its structure under a heavy stone skin that blends in with the environment as it’s located near the remains of an ancient military base that dates back to the end of the 19th Century.
After accessing inside the building through a winding corridor, there are two spacious vaulted rooms with two large glass windows—the eyes of the Mirador—that allow contemplating an extraordinary panoramic view over the strait of “Río” (naming the viewpoint), the narrow stretch of the sea separating Lanzarote from La Graciosa.
At the bottom of the cliff, the reddish shades of the salinas del Rio stand out, also known as Guza, the oldest ones on the Canary Islands. Architect Eduardo Cáceres and artist Jesús Soto, collaborated in the creation of El Mirador, which was quite outstanding taking into consideration that there were scarce means, and the terrain had to be dug and the building later had to be covered with volcanic rock.
On clear days, beyond the view of La Graciosa, the small islands Montaña Clara and Roque del Oeste can be seen, with the furthest of them all being Alegranza.
Whilst it’s still possible to buy snacks and drinks at the Mirador, it doesn’t house the grand restaurant that Manrique initially envisaged. Instead the space is dedicated to framing the fantastic view across to the island of La Graciosa.
The Mirador del Rio is a really stunning architectural achievement and was lauded at the time as one of the most important new buildings in the world. In keeping with Manrique’s ecological philosophy the structure blends effortlessly into it’s surroundings whilst still providing visitors with a real buzz.
The design proved such a hit that Manrique later repeated the trick, creating a similar structure, the Mirador del Palmajero, on La Gomera, the little sister island to Tenerife.