If living underground is your kind of thing, then Lanzarote seems to offer quite a few options. The Cueva de los Verdes is just one of them. The others? Jameos del Agua which is a short drive away and the wonderful home of Lanzarote-born artist César Manrique.
Here's the funny thing about the Cueva de los Verdes - "Verdes" in Spanish means "green". But as the guide will tell you, like the rest of the arrid island, there's nothing green about the caves. The name actually comes from a farming family who used the volcanic cave as their home. Their name? Verde.
2km of the 6km long volcanic tube are open to the public. We took the tour and were led through a thrilling network of tunnels, some on many different levels. Highlights of the tour?
- The ampitheatre: That's right - one large chamber of the Cueva de los Verdes has circles of chairs around a stage on which sits a piano. Apparently the acoustics of the chamber are almost perfect for performances and there are regular shows held deep in the volcanic tunnel. How cool is that?
- The secret of the caves: Normally I'd be the first to tell you what the secret of the tour is. But having experienced the 'reveal', it wouldn't be fair to ruin the surprise. Suffice to say, it involves an optical illusion that will blow your mind when you experience it.
- The Indiana Jones experience: They don't call it that, but honestly you feel like an explorer ducking through these corridors of solid rock, deep within the earth. Note to the tour staff: maybe consider providing hats and whips to saddos like myself in future.
The construction of the tunnels is literally mind boggling. They were formed not during the eruptions of the 18th Century, but during the eruption of the Corona volcano some 3-4,000 years ago. The tunnels have provided shelter for the original inhabitants of Lanzarote (the 'Gaunches') as well as the Hispanic population who once lived in them for two whole months while pirates ransacked the island looking for them!