The Cueva de los Verdes is located in the La Corona Natural Monument region of the municipality of Haría in the north of Lanzarote. The easiest and most direct way to get there is to take the LZ1 road from Punta Mujeres to Órzola and turn left on the LZ 204 at the Jameos del Agua junction (it is well signposted), which is just over half a kilometre up the hill. Visiting this network of caves is like taking a journey to the centre of the Earth, and is a wonderful example of how the violence of a volcanic eruption has created a beautiful space beneath the planet’s surface. You’ll find tunnels, walls of molten lava that look like melted cheese, cavities, lakes and a small auditorium, perfect for concerts.
These underground volcanic tunnels were formed when the top surface of the lava flow cooled and solidified but inside, the incandescent lava continued its course, bubbling at thousands of degrees centigrade towards the sea. When at last the eruptions came to a halt, the roof of the tunnel became fully petrified whilst inside, the lava flow had hollowed out a network of caves in the bowels of the earth that measured as much as fifty metres high and fifteen metres wide.
When you venture inside the caves, it’ll take a moment to adjust to the difference in light, and you’ll feel how the temperature drops to a steady twenty degrees. As you advance through the series of galleries and hollowed caves, you can see how the molten lava once flowed through, leaving walls that look more like melted chocolate or cheese. It’s impossible not to lose track of time and forget about the outside world.
The caves were adapted for visitors by the artist Jesús Soto, originally from Fuerteventura. He lived in Lanzarote and worked closely with César Manrique. He was the mastermind behind the subtle illumination that exquisitely plays with light and shadow to highlight the texture and movement of the rock. His work heightens the visitor experience and makes it even more impressive. Some of the caves have wonderful-sounding names like Art Lovers’ Hall, (Sala de los Estetas) Hartung’s Vent (Lumbrera de Hartung), Devil’s Oven (Horno del Diablo), the Crypt (la Cripta), the Turrets (los Castilletes), Monster’s Head (Cabeza del Monstruo), Guanche’s Foot (Pie del Guanche), the Maidens’ Chasms (las simas de Doncellas) and Moorish Gate (la Puerta Mora).
The ancient inhabitants of Lanzarote, the Mahos, made use of the caves for centuries to hide and protect themselves from pirate attacks and slave traders. The first testimonies of the place in this sense date back to 1590, by the Cremonese engineer Leonardo Torriani, who had an enormous influence on Lanzarote.