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Santa María de Guía, the ultimate guide

Santa María de Guía's one of Gran Canaria's tucked-away delights, hidden away in the north west of the island. Yet it's easily reached off GC's second motorway. Go local by calling it by its more recognized name, Guía.

Cheesy does it

Guía's best known, perhaps, as the home of queso de flor de Guía (Guía flower cheese). This is primarily sheep's milk cheese curdled with juice extracted from artichoke thistles. It's a much-cherished home-grown product with Denomination of Origin protection.

You can find different varieties of this cheese in restaurants and shops in and around Guía. But to try, and indeed buy, queso de flor, in its purest form head to Calle Pérez Galdós' La Quesera. It's located in the stunning Casa y Ermita de San Antonio, a hermitage which dates back to 1739.

Gran Canaria's Alamo

Gran Canaria's Alamo wasn't a battle. He was a person, and a notable one at that. Néstor Álamo Hernández (1906-1994), to give him his full name was a celebrated composer, journalist, and writer who was born in Santa María de Guía.

The town's Museo Néstor Álamo doubles as the Museo Historia de la Musica en Canarias, so you'll be able to discover the musical history of the islands from the days of the pre-Spanish canarii right up to Canarian Eurovision entries and beyond. Admission is €1, however tourist information comes free at the Oficina de Turismo located at the museum's entrance.

Getting the horn, Guía-style

Another Canarian souvenir you might like to get your hands on, yes we're including cheese as at least a temporary memento, is the cuchillo canario. The Canarian knife is also known as naife, as locals impersonated the English settlers who made their home here. The whatever you want to call it was first created for use in the island's banana plantations, many of which are located a mere knife's throw from Guía itself.

The handles are fashioned from goat horns. Visit Francisco Torres' workshop on Calle Jóse Samsó Henriquez to see the master craftsman in action. As well as knives which can cost up to €1,000, you can pick up less costly miniatures and even knife-shaped earrings.

Church times

They're a religious lot on Gran Canaria, none more so than in Guía. Whilst the Iglesia Matriz de Guía dominates the town's skyline, head in to discover its inner beauty. Including the works of art sculpted by the hands of another famous son of the town, José Miguel Luján Pérez (1756-1815). The pick of which are the various images of Jesus Christ, pictured above.

Sweet and sour

The people who live in the north of Gran Canaria definitely have a sweet tooth. Those in Moya love their bizcochos whilst in Teror even the chorizo's far from savoury in flavour. It's the same in Guía where further down Calle Pérez Galdós than La Quesera, you'll find La Panificadora.

Here there are biscuits and cakes galore. Most include, vegetarians beware, lard. Other less sweet tastes are catered for by the confusingly-named pan de limon which, despite its title, is definitely more cake than bread. The recipe does, however, contain lemon.

Up and down in Guía

Traditionally, the gentry in Guía lived closer to the centre of town, near the Plaza Grande. The artisans and artists including the resident poets, meanwhile, lived higher up. Which explains the existence of the Ermita de San Roque, located in the square of the same name.

Originally built in the early 16th century, this was the second of the hermitages to be constructed by Guía's founding father, the Cantabrian knight Sancho de Vargas. Although the one you can see in the photo is the new, improved 1903 version. Which itself was only last restored in December 2012.

Guía's Old Curiosity Shop

You'll discover that leaving Guía empty-handed is a nigh-on-impossible feat. Especially if you pop into Lomo Guillén's Artesanía Canaria, the emporium of Arturo Díaz Godoy, located on the Carretera General. As well as the ubiqitous cuchillos canarios and quesos de flor, you'll find knick-nacks big and small, arranged wall to wall.

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