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The most legendary hotel ruin of Lanzarote

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

The plot of a gigantic scandal - The whole story of the myth of 'El Nautico Lanzarote'. The most iconic Lost Place on Lanzarote. A reconstruction by Chris Ernst

Many have already heard of the mysterious hotel ruin in the south of the island, some have certainly been there, but who knows the background hidden in this monumental skeleton of concrete?

The plot of a gigantic scandal

If you want to grasp the contents in their full scope, you have to mentally move to the starting point of this story. To the seventies of the last century. The year is 1971 and Lanzarote is slowly being kissed awake from its slumber.

At that time, Lanzarote was a sunny little island off the coast of Africa, with a tranquil everyday life between growing onions and breeding cochineal lice,

but now on the cusp of tourism.

Its attractiveness as a destination was steadily increasing and the design of some island highlights was slowly taking shape.

The 'Jameos Del Agua' had been completed for six years at that time, the Mirador del Rio was to follow in the next two years, as was the Gran Hotel with the attached Islote del Amor.

But all these big plans, all these visions were nothing compared to the idea Erich Becker had had.

Erich Becker - the Frankfurt freight forwarder who lived on the island and wanted to create a complete urbanisation in the south of the island, north of the lighthouse 'Faro de Pechiguera', which was to be called 'Atlantis del Sol'. The first building of this extremely ambitious construction project was the planned four-star hotel 'El Nautico Lanzarote', the concrete skeleton that is still a contemporary witness of this large-scale project.

Becker had big plans and his project could only be described with one word: "Gigantic!"

In his Utopolis, a total of five hotels were to be built, almost two thousand bungalows and a golf course . The entire arial for these projects was over 2,000,000 square metres in size. The proud sum of 1.2 billion pesetas, the equivalent of 72 million euros, was to be invested here and 25,000 jobs were ultimately to be created.

Becker's vision, which for many was almost like a fantasy, actually took shape, because at the same time, in 1968, the 'Strauss Law' came into force in Germany, a subsidy programme with tax benefits for those who invested in developing countries, and at that time the Canary Islands were considered to be such a country.

As a newspaper of the time reported, "hundreds of investors flew to the island in 1971 in several Boeing 720s to see how this project was being built.

Hundreds of Investors

On 3 March 1973, the Costa Canaria also reported that "the project, the idea of which came from Erich Becker, is taking shape. He commissioned a team of architects, engineers and economists to carry out this magnificent project, which included its own infrastructure, such as drinking water, electricity, sewage treatment and waste disposal, as well as the creation of sports facilities, a large cultural centre with reserves for an administrative centre and its own telephone exchange and post office.

Also planned was a training centre for accelerated vocational training for tourism workers."

The whole thing was to be coupled with green spaces totalling 30 hectares.

The construction of the hotel 'El Nautico Lanzarote' began in 1973. However, the unorthodox and ineffective project management, poorly structured processes, legal problems and ultimately the consequences of the oil crisis in 1973 caused the ambitious project to collapse very quickly. The vision was shattered.

Knock-out of the dream

What remained was the shell of the hotel, which has not been completed to this day, but thus has nothing to do with the development of the building collapse on the island in the 2000s.

Due to a change in the legal situation, a new development of the area around the ruins has no longer been possible since 1991, but since the building permit for the hotel was actually formally granted in 1972, it was now decided to rededicate it and establish a social-sanitary care centre for Lanzarote there.

Corresponding applications were submitted, but rejected by the responsible committee in Yaiza. This idea is therefore probably on the brink of extinction.

Turning into a nightmare

In the end, the only thing left to do would be demolition, which could cost several million, but would actually make sense, because the rubble could have been used for the construction of the new harbour facility in Playa Blanca and could have been dumped there.

This would have closed the circle:

The remains of "Atlantis del Sol", named after the city that once sank into the sea in one day and one night, would have disappeared again into the waves of the Atlantic off the coast of Lanzarote.


Text: Chris Ernst | Photos: Sabine La fotógrafa Pelirroja

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