1,001 Uses for Lava Rock


LANZAROTE IS A VOLCANIC ISLAND, which many are, but what’s different about it — as opposed to, say, lush Kauai — is that the last major eruption occurred relatively recently. In September of 1730, Mt. Timanfaya let loose a lava flow that decimated two-thirds of the island. Where efforts to re-forest (or re-palm, or re-cactus) have been made, they’ve been successful. But despite the sunny clime (it’s 72 here today, she said smugly), the southern part of the island  — all I’ve seen so far — is a blackened landscape, not without its own charred beauty.


The lava, long since solidified, that destroyed a dozen villages and sent islanders fleeing to other parts of the Canary Islands archipelago has been put to good use. You see it in agriculture, in building construction, and in countless decorative applications. I mean, it’s everywhere. See below for some of the practical and imaginative ways the people of Lanzarote have re-purposed the black stuff.

As boulders around swimming pools…


Hotel Gran Melia Salinas, Costa Teguise

Exterior walls…


Fundacion Cesar Manrique

Interior walls…



Fundacion Cesar Manrique

Mosaic murals…


Fundacion Cesar Manrique

Boundary walls…


Fundacion Cesar Manrique



Fundacion Cesar Manrique



Monumento al Campesino


Museo del Campesino


Castillo de San Jose

Terraced farming (each shrub, vine or fruit tree has it’s own surround for protection from winds)…


Building construction, often covered with stucco…


Caseria de Mozaga, an inn and restaurant

Crazy paving…


Hotel Finca de la Florida

18th century castle walls…


Castillo de San Jose

Arched interior rooms… floors too…


Castillo de San Jose (now a contemporary art museum)


Castillo de San Jose

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in SPAIN, TRAVEL and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to 1,001 Uses for Lava Rock

  1. I love these amazing photos. Excellent post!

  2. Julia Mack says:

    So beautiful and exotic. Your writing and photos are so descriptive that I’m practically transported just by scrolling down.

  3. stacie says:

    great pictures! that cesar was one wild and crazy guy!

  4. Lovely post, Cara. Marc and I were just there a few weeks ago! Lanzarote is so gorgeous in it’s blackened barren-ness. I want move in to Cesar Manrique’s house…

  5. Brooklyn Greene says:

    Two words: Gor and Jus! I want to be there now!

    But right now it sounds like sleet along with the rain hitting the north-facing windows here in Fort Greene. WQXR was getting boring so now I’m onto something else and a glass Peconic, North Fork Sauvignon Blanc.

    Enjoy!!! And thank you Cara for always sharing! As you know, you’re a treasure!

  6. Have you heard any superstitions with regard to the lava rocks/black sand? I’m curious, as we were repeatedly told that it would be bad luck to take any of it off the islands in Hawai’i.

  7. Terry says:

    You are certainly burning it up today: When life gives you lava…

  8. Coppermaven says:

    Great pics! Hope you get a chance to enjoy the sunshine…

  9. Juan says:

    My parents are originally from Lanzarote, and I was born in Gran Canaria, but moved to California as a teenager.
    Now I have a house in El Cerrito, California, and really missed the Lanzarote architecture (and weather…). In fact the reason I found this site is because I am looking to purchase black lava blocks for my garden. Your pictures are very good, although as you can imagine having grown up there I have memories of Lanzarote before tourism you can not retrieve from times past – it was simply paradise.

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