In the southwest of the island, covering an area of 143.43 km2, we will find Guía de Isora, a municipality with approximately 21,000 inhabitants spreading from the summit to the coastline, where the most varied landscapes coexist with a rich architectural, cultural and gastronomic heritage as well as offering many outdoor leisure activities.
In addition, owing to its location Guía de Isora boasts a mild climate, with clear skies most of the year, but with local variations caused differences in altitude.
Guía de Isora’s history speaks of a place that has gone through different phases of economic growth, followed by crisis periods, but it is currently blooming due to the demand of modern tourism.
When it was first founded, the steep land was less than welcoming to human settlements, but little by little small groups from other regions in the island or other islands managed to survive through activities such as honey making, tar production and cattle breeding. By 1850s, however, the cultivation and trade of the cochineal insect brought a breath of fresh air to the municipality, which in turn experienced a significant economic and population growth. Unfortunately, it was short lived. There were several factors involved: the invention of synthetic dyes that replaced the natural dye extracted from the cochineal, natural disasters and epidemics forced Guía de Isora to become a source of emigrants to America.
From the 1940s and 1950s a new growth period started thanks to water extraction from underground galleries and wells, and farming activities aimed for export mainly tomatoes and bananas began ass did the emergence of tourism.
Guía de Isora is presently a tourist destination with luxurious accommodation on offer, and a coastline adapted accordingly, with modern facilities making a range of water activities possible.
At the same time, the Town Hall is working hard towards restoring and preserving its rich heritage, with options to suit all tastes.
In the highlands, the Las Fuentes hamlet is worth a mention. The area shows interesting remains of past agricultural techniques used by locals in order to make the most out of rainfall, and the ways in which they used volcanic stones to regulate soil humidity.
The old town of Guía de Isora is a magnificent example of 19th century architecture, especially the Casas Consistoriales building or the Parroquia Matriz de Nuestra Señora de La Luz parish church, that houses preserved images and historic jewellery given to the Blessed Virgin Mary to celebrate the end of the Chinyero eruption in 1909.
Ethnographic heritage is very interesting as well, showing terracotta ovens in Aripe and Chirche, tar ovens in Tágara Mountains, wells in Tejina, laundries and lime ovens in Playa de San Juan, and a communal vineyard in Acoteja.
Visiting the hamlets in the hills can be paired with sampling traditional foods – pastries, cheeses, wines and spirits -. “Mistela” is the typical liqueur in the area. Local traditional dishes visitors can taste include “rancho” -traditional meat soup-, “puchero” -vegetable and meat stew-, and “potaje” -thick vegetable soup-, which can be served with “gofio”, the Canarian word for a type of flour made from toasted cereals very typical in the islands.
On the seafront at Playa San Juan or Alcalá, a wide range of freshly caught seafood produce can be enjoyed, with the all-important “papas arrugadas” -local unpeeled potatoes boiled in very salty water- and typical dipping sauces or “mojos”.
We cannot fail to mention the rich natural heritage Guía de Isora is home to, much of which is protected. Pine groves on the highlands and lavaflow remains dominate the landscape.
August is a good time to visit Guía de Isora because in addition to the attractions mentioned above, on the 15th of August, Alcalá is hosting the festivities honouring the Virgen de la Candelaria” including some spectacular fireworks. What makes these fireworks special is the fact that they are loaded into boats and are carried to low-lying rocks located close to the coast, so that they are fired away from four spots in the sea simultaneously. The sea condition permitting, and with clear skies and a summer breeze blowing, it shall be a beautiful display.
In short, a wide range of possibilities to enjoy a well-rounded holiday.
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