Thousands of years ago hell hovered over the northern part of the island of Lanzarote. The Corona volcano had erupted and the lava carried away all traces of life. That sea of fire was petrified, giving rise to what is now known as the Malpaís de la Corona, a landscape impossible not to compare with the inhospitable lands of Mordor. Likewise, the lava of La Corona gave shape to two natural monuments of great importance on the island: Los Verdes cave and the Jameos del Agua.
Jameos are, roughly speaking, the holes resulting from the sinking of the roof of a volcanic tube. Therefore, to understand how they are formed, we must first understand what a volcanic tube is.
A volcanic tube is a natural formation produced when a river of lava solidifies on contact with the air, while underneath the crust that has originated, the lava continues to flow. Gradually, as the volcano’s eruption subsides, the course of the river of fire descends. Thus, an elongated cave is created whose roof, floor and walls are made of solidified lava. A jameo is formed when a section of the roof of the tube detaches and leaves cavities in the open air.
In Lanzarote, the Corona volcano was responsible for the formation of a volcanic tube no less than seven kilometers long. It connects Los Verdes cave with the Jameos del Agua and the Atlantis tunnel. These formations are, thus, different sections of the Lanzarote volcanic tube.
The part of the tube closest to the sea is known as Jameos del Agua, which communicates with the Atlantis tunnel, which goes at least a kilometer and a half into the depths of the sea and is still under investigation.
In the 1960s this natural space was intervened by the well-known architect, native of the island, César Manrique. The creation of the artist, famous for building spaces that combine architecture and nature but always respecting the environment, was finally completed in 1977. Thus, he turned the space into a Center for Art, Culture and Tourism.
The Jameos del Agua consists of three parts. First, the entrance through a staircase leads the visitor to what is known as Jameo Chico, a small cavity dotted with a lake, formed by the seepage of sea water. The artificial touch was given by Manrique with the construction of a nice restaurant. This jameo is the one that gives its name to the natural monument.
The Jameo Grande is the one that can be seen after passing the Jameo Chico. The main attraction of this section consists of an artificial pool accompanied by a garden, both designed by the architect. Finally, after passing this area, an auditorium opens up, integrated into the same volcanic walls of the tube and where concerts, parties, and more events are held. Its acoustics are said to be very good. The last jameo or cavity is Cazuela, which is only open to the public on special occasions.
The characteristics of the jameos led to the occupation of the enclave by a species of crab endemic to Lanzarote, known as Munidopsis Polimorpha or jameito. This crab can not be found anywhere else on the planet except in the Jameos del Agua and the Cueva de los Verdes. It is blind, albino and measures barely one centimeter.
A few years ago the small animal, very delicate before environmental changes, was endangered due to human action. People used to throw coins into the water, which almost caused its extinction. For this reason, it is completely forbidden to throw coins into the water. This crustacean is one more of the wonders that make Jameos del Agua an indispensable environment.
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