... a complex of seawater pools and open air museum

 

On April 30th 1977 was the inauguration of El Lago Martianez - Complex of Pools Costa Martiánez in Tenerife. At Tenerife Travel Secrets we would like to pay a tribute to one of the icons of leisure, gastronomy and culture of Puerto de la Cruz.

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I never thought that my visit to El Lago would amaze me so much... How was it possible that a place visited many times would have been totally unknown to me? If I asked you... How many sculptures there are at El Lago Martianez? Can you remember how many? I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even the stones in the floor have their history (geological and "personal") and purpose. And above all I have to thank Alfonso Sánchez, a gentleman with a very interesting personal story ... just like our beloved Lago 😊

Tenerife Travel Secret

The complex of pools at El Lago Martianez is the biggest outdoor Museum of Contemporary Art with swimming pools in Europe made by the artist César Manrique, plus other fabulous artists who have donated their creativity to build this beautiful place, such as the artist Wilhelm Reich.

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Prices and Opening Hours of El Lago

You can have the basic entrance (5,50€), entrance with lunch or purchase 15 or 30 tickets for a reduced price. Lago Martianez is open from 10am to 5pm from Monday to Sunday, but visitors can stay at the facilities until 6pm. It is always advisable to arrive a little earlier, especially in high season, so you don’t wait long to enter the park.

 

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About the Complex El Lago Martiánez

I arrived before the pools complex was opened to the public, so some of the photos I had the privilege of taking were in total exclusivity with no people around. The large pool was in the process of being filled. The person who accompanied me to the offices of the Costa Martiánez group told me that every other day there is a new process to vacuum and fill pools (with pressure hoses), in order to clean, disinfect and apply the antifouling products (respectful to the environment) needed to fill the pools again with the seawater.

Alfonso, director of Costa Martiánez, Leisure, Culture and Gastronomy, is a privileged person, who had a great relationship with César Manrique thanks to the friendship between his parents and the artist. On top of that, Alfonso knows many stories that revolve around Lake Martiánez, its creator and its most illustrious visitors.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

Some examples of great personalities who have visited Puerto de la Cruz and Lago Martianez facilities are Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, the Beatles, and several others.

Facilities of Lago Martiánez

We started the tour by the swimming pool called “Monumento al Mar o a las Olas” (Monument to the Sea or Waves). This monument represents solid and static waves of concrete. As we pass under the sculpture, the vision of its curved edges is varying, in the same way that the sea varies when the waves are breaking. Having no fixed point as a perspective, its size is deceptive from afar, seeming larger than the sculpture really is.

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Tenerife Travel Secret

On the other hand, I had never thought that "simple" sticks strategically placed along the walls of Lago Martianez were yet another sculpture... "Peines de Viento" (Combs of Wind) are those sticks that are in some sections of the walls bordering the complex. They were created to try to tame the Trade winds ... human beings are always concerned about refining and mastering what cannot be mastered.

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We continued walking and arrived at the beautiful "Las Raíces Al Cielo" (The Roots to Heaven) in which some eucalyptus trees were "planted" upside down. In this way we can enjoy parts of the trees that are often ignored, but without it we could hardly see the majesty of the tree itself... Like everything we see, there’s always something hidden that justifies everything. Close to that area there is a small stage area concealed among the rocks which was originally created to accommodate small performances and concerts by the sea.

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There are two types of showers for bathers to use before entering the pools of Lago Martianez. Those that are near the sea are under wooden pergolas. The ones close to the promenade are embedded in the wall.

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We recommend using the showers at Lago Martianez not only for hygiene reasons but also to acclimatize the body to the cooler temperature you will have after continued exposure to the sun. That way you might avoid feeling the differences of temperature.

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In the pool of the island there is a geyser designed with the idea of being a water sculpture and also so visitors could see how the trade winds act on the water. As it happens, the geyser is a well of cultural interest. In turn, near this Geyser, Cesar Manrique, unable to represent a volcano with fire, created one overflowing with water, in what is known as the crater. It is a mixture of volcanological conceptualizations contrasted with the sea. With these two sculptures, César Manrique honored his work at Lanzarote in yet another volcanic island – Tenerife.

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The Lago Martiánez tour continues...

Nothing in this pool complex is the result of chance, in fact all the stones that can be seen are not just randomly placed stones, these are considered architectural ornaments. They come from different parts of the island and are easily recognizable:

·         The smooth boulders found on the floor are from San Juan de La Rambla

·        The rought stones, like those found in the crater of water in the pool area, are from Las Canadas del Teide.

The artist César Manrique had strong disagreements, as his original idea was not respected, where he wanted to put irregular stones in all steps surrounding the pools. Reluctantly, stone steps with straight lines were placed (nature has no straight lines ... it is a human "invention") in most of the set of pools, except for an area of the large pool of the island, where large rounded stones reflect the homage to nature that the artist wanted but could not manage everywhere.

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At the top of the Restaurant Los Alisios, which is accessed from Lago Martianez by stairs, there is a viewpoint where a VIP area was originally created (which was never used as such), designed for those who wanted to enjoy the lake from a privileged point of view. There you can see wonderful views of the entire complex, the sea, Puerto de La Cruz, La Orotava Valley and Mount Teide in the background. It has at least six defined areas with a bench and enough room for two hammocks, and it is currently open to the public... you can feel VIP without adding a dime for the entrance.

We left the island of the pool and went to the other swimming pool of the cuttlefish, suitable for little ones who can take a dip and play with its tentacles.

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Did you know that the Lake Martiánez has a pet and that refers to the animal depicted in this pool? Its name is Martianito, and obviously it is a nice cuttlefish.

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If we continue with our walk we find a large pool of seawater the entrance to which is like a natural waterfall. Nearby you can find a steel sculpture that time has corroded, and that was the initial idea of ​​the author... to see the effect that nature has on different materials. It would be interesting to see it moving when it is windy.

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Usually the water in this pool is cooler than in all others (perhaps because it's the one that supplies the other pools with seawater) and the closest area, on the other hand, is the warmest in the whole complex (perhaps for being more sheltered from the Trade winds), so we advise you to take a shower before entering the pool to acclimatise your body to the temperature change.

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The next pool is the one with the boat, where besides bathing you could enjoy a refreshing drink. Following our sightseeing, we pass through the original area of Lago Martianez where you will find another sculpture (two rocks of different materials and in the middle an anchor, very similar to one located in Lanzarote), the meaning of which was sadly lost. 

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Did you know that the Beatles, before being world famous, spent some holidays in Puerto de la Cruz in 1963 and among other things, enjoyed some dips in the pools of Lake Martiánez? In fact, there is a place in the area of ​​the original pool (near the hermitage of San Telmo) where the Beatles are depicted sitting.

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In the upper area of the two pools of Lago Martianez you will find the restaurant "El Lido" created by Mr. David Gilbert to host luxury tourism. The restaurant seats 120 people, and has privileged views of the original pools, as well as beautiful sunsets over the sea. There you can enjoy delicious cocktails and a select menu of special sandwiches.

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When the Beatles spent their last vacation without screaming fans or the persecution of journalists, they offered to sing at the restaurant El Lido. Mr. David Gilbert, manager and owner, told them they did not have enough quality to play there... he could never tell them that he regretted that decision, although not many have said no to one of the most famous bands in music history 😊.

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And then there’s the main entrance, where you will find the "Juguetes del Viento” (Wind Toys) where the work of man (mobile and vane) and nature (wind) are mixed. The name of this mobile sculpture is Barlovento.

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Getting to El Lago Martiánez

If you go by car, there is no parking place at the complex, therefore you would need to park a little bit further away. “El Muelle” in Puerto de La Cruz is one of the alternatives.

Costa Martiánez - Avenida Colón, 1. 38400 Puerto de La Cruz, Tenerife

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Final Comments from the Authors about El Lago Martiánez

We have not revealed all the secrets of Lago Martianez and the whole complex Costa Martiánez, so you can then discover some on your own (some tips: the origin of the booths, how the pools are filled, other hidden sculptures at the resort... many more 😊). Don’t you have the impression now that Lago Martianez is more than just a mere complex of pools? Any visitor staying or passing by the north of the island should not miss the opportunity to visit this unique Museum of Contemporary Art with the added value of the pleasant swimming pools. How lucky to be there, enjoy the good weather, a relaxing bathe, the food, history and culture.

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