As many years have already passed since the seven wonders of Lanzarote were constructed to form the backbone of its cultural tourist offering, it’s unsurprising to read that the stalagmite structures in the Cactus Garden
have begun to deteriorate. The stone sculptures created by Manrique as part of the landscape against which to view the cacti in the Garden are crumbling, with the red coloured volcanic lapilli disintegrating to such an extent that the Cabildo has had to task the Institute of Cultural Patrimonio in Spain with an investigation into the causes.
While it may simply be an issue of ageing mortar, the bigger question that such occurrences raise is how to maintain and safeguard the architectural and artistic heritage of Cesar Manrique’s work. After all, every year hundreds of thousands of pairs of feet walk over the painted floors of the Foundation, touching the white walls with their hands and leaving small but perceptible traces as the years’ progress.
Only a few years ago, the cascade to the side of the main Jameos pool was never working. Then there was a period when you had to pick your way across the beautiful sea weathered stones that formed a pathway through the gushing water, as the stream’s mechanics had been fixed and were now able to illustrate the original intention. Yet more recently still, it seems once again this water feature has stopped working with little indication it will be operational soon.
On a more scandalous note, the stage in the Auditorium of the Jameos has not been in use for over a decade, due to the singular occasion when a few small bits of debris fell from part of the roof onto the stage. So much political mileage has been made by successive officials in the process of supposedly securing the structure, that several million Euros have been spent, with almost nothing to show for it, apart from a couple of reports.
With some of the attractions well into their fourth decade of receiving visitors, they do on the whole seem to weather high volumes of passing tourists very well. When visiting one of these photogenic sites, it’s amusing to ponder how many millions of photos these amazing locations must already appear in, as person after person lines up another shot of the palm hanging over the pool or the windmill towering over the amphitheatre of the Cactus Garden.