If you’re on the hunt for a natural high, the Mirador del Rio could well be it. Situated in the far North of Lanzarote, it’s the island’s most well-known vantage point located almost 500 metres above sea level. It was originally used by the Spanish in the 16th century so they could look out for pirates, two hundred years later it became a fortress and gun battery. These days it’s a spectacular vista which offers breathtaking views across the El Rio strait and Chinijo Archipelago.
Created back in 1974 by renowned Lanzarote artist Cesar Manrique, Mirador del Rio was originally set to be a restaurant. We thought it was when we arrived with our rumbling tummies although it’s drinks and snacks rather than hot meals. That said this remarkable spot is certainly well worth a visit. The route there takes you along mountain roads and past a small village called Yé, once a place for extracting purple dye from lichen. As you approach Mirador del Rio, it’s impossible not to get that sense of curiosity as you venture towards the entrance.
It’s understood the Mirador del Rio was created with architects Jesus Soto and Eduardo, their sentiment to make what was the old gun battery a more peaceful place. A large room was quarried out of the cliff with all the excavation work cleverly done through the roof. Much like the other Cesar Manrique cultural attractions we visited, it’s fascinating from the moment you arrive.
We headed down a narrow winding corridor only to arrive in this huge white walled room, split into two windowed sections and furnished with tables and chairs. The minimalist design is purposeful with this area framing the views of La Graciosa, and the uninhabited Alegranza and Montaña Clara, rather than distracting from them. We could see a great deal from our table but it’s only when you head outside you can truly appreciate what’s been done here. Again walking along a white corridor, stone steps lead you to the most incredible sight. You can even see the Playa El Risco beach and Salinas salt plains below which the oldest in the archipelago and date back to Roman times.
But the views doesn’t stop there as there are spiral steps from the main room up to the gift shop and from there the top of Mirador Del Rio. With a few stone steps down to the viewing area, it’s quite something to see how Mirador Del Rio blends into the surroundings. Looking out from here you really do feel like you’re on top of the world. It’s just immense, nature really is a wonderful thing.