Cuenca - La Athenas del Ecuador

Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca, the capital of the Azuay province, has 276,702 inhabitants. It is known as the Athens of Ecuador for being the cradle of great intellectuals and illustrious men of science and art. In 1999 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, due to its peculiar urban design, its old houses, churches and convents.

 

In this charming city was located, many years ago, the Inca settlement of Tomebamba, considered homeland of the Inca Huayna-Capac (King of the Inca Empire). Cuenca is also considered as the third most important city of Ecuador, after Quito and Guayaquil, which are the cities where the political and economic powers of the country are established.

The Cloister of the Concepts

Located at Hermano Miguel and Presidente Córdova streets, it was built at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. It is one of the largest architectural gems of the city, in its rooms you can see the daily life of the nuns of the cloister as well as religious art pieces.
Horarios de atención: lunes a viernes de 09:00 a 18:30; Sábados y días festivos de 10:00 a 13:00
Costo: $2,50

Pumapungo Ruins

Located at the top of the Tomebamba River ravine; the place where now a days it is located the Archaeological Park of Pumapungo has witnessed of 3 important occupations: the first one Cañari with the city of Guapondélig, the second one Inca with the city of Tomembamba and the third one Spanish with the city of Santa Ana de Cuenca . Currently in its facilities we can find an ethnobotanical garden and a bird refuge.
Horarios de atención: Martes a Viernes de 08:00 a 17:30; Sábados, Domingos y Feriados de 10:00 a 16:00
Costo: Gratuito

The Sagrario Church (OLD CATHEDRAL)

The old cathedral of Cuenca was built in 1567 at Luis Cordero and Sucre streets, the building foundation were made with carved stones of the Tomebamba city, in this place the Roman style domes and the bellows organ constitutes one of the most important artistic works of the city.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (NEW CATHEDRAL)

Located at Benigno Malo and Sucre streets, it is the most important work of the German architect Juan Baustista Stiehle with a Renaissance Gothic style which was inspired by the St. Peter Basilica in Rome. Its stained glass, marble floors, walls, its decorations by wood and gold leaf are its main attraction.

“Plaza de las Flores” ( Square Flowers)

Located at the Cuenca’s Old Town, it led the top 10 of the outdoor flower markets in the world. The square is open to the public 7 days a week. Most of the sellers are cholas cuencanas. This market is a natural wealth demonstration area throughout the year.

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All Saints Church

Located at one of the oldest places in Cuenca, known as the bakeries neighborhood. The main economic activity of the place is the bread in a wood oven production. The church was based on a cañari’s houses (usno) , the same that was an important place for great ceremonies and rituals of the Andean culture. This is one of the oldest churches in Cuenca, it is also where the first Catholic mass was celebrated after the arrival of the Spaniards.
La iglesia fue asentada sobre un usno cañari, el mismo que era un lugar importante para grandes ceremonias y rituales de la cultura andina. Esta es una de las iglesias más antiguas de Cuenca, es también el lugar donde se celebró la primera misa católica después de la llegada de los españoles.
Horarios de atención: de martes a sábado de 08:30 a 17:00
Costo: adultos $ 2 ; estudiantes $ 1,50; tercera edad $ 0,50

Cajas National Park

Mountainous area with 28,500 hectares of “pajonales”, it has approximately 250 lagoons located between 3,000 and 4,000 meters high. This area is considered one of the most important high altitude wetlands in the world and constitutes the most transcendental water reserve in Cuenca.
Horarios de atención: de lunes a Domingo de 08:00 a 16:00
Costo: Gratuito

Gualaceo Town

Located 45 minutes from Cuenca, in the central-eastern area of the Azuay province, it is known as the "Jardín Azuayo". It retains features of colonial architecture, beautiful landscapes, colorful and diverse flora, cultural and artisanal diversity, such as the footwear manufacture and other leather work, for these and more features was declared Cultural Heritage of Ecuador.

Chordeleg Town

Located 40 km from Cuenca, here you can see abundant crafts in fabrics, embroidery and goldsmithing. Chordeleg is characterized by the elaboration of beautiful gold and silver jewelry, woolen fabrics, straw shawls, ceramics and furniture making.

Yunguilla Valley

It is located in the Girón and San Fernando’s paramo, must be accessed by car or horse. It is a fertile area with sugar cane plantations where brandy and panela is made. In this region there are several beautiful places to visit such as the Cerro Francesurco and El Control, as well as the monument to the victors of the Battle of Tarqui in 1829.

Malacatos Valley

Subtropical valley with privileged landscapes located 33 km south of Loja, famous for its tropical fruits, reed beds and hot water. The architecture of this parish is maintained in a traditional republican style and preserves the identity of the houses in the Loja’s old town.

Vilcabamba Valley

In Kichwa means "sacred valley", is located 10 km to the south of the Malacatos Valley, which later began to be called the valley of the long lived as its inhabitants have an average life of more than 100 years . Known worldwide for its miraculous climate and its indigenous architecture church and its central park.

Podocarpus National Park

Considered as "Botanical Garden of America", it was declared a National Park and Biosphere Reserve on September 21, 2007 by UNESCO.
In the Podocarpus there are 3,000 to 4,000 plants species, in addition in San Francisco to the northeast part of the park there are several species of endemic orchids.
On the other hand it is known the existence of gold in the mountains of the park, factor that has been the main obstacle for its conservation.
Horario de atención: de lunes a domingo de 08:00 a 18:00
Costo: $2

Ruinas de Ingapirca

Located at 84 km from Cuenca (word kichwa which means wall or wall of the Inca), is the best preserved Inca architectural complex in the country. It was an important ceremonial zone that united diverse cultures through the Tahuantinsuyo. It became like Macchu Picchu in power symbol of the Inca civilization.
Inside this fortress is the Temple of the Sun, it is built with andesite stone and volcanic stone, it is aligned solarly, for this reason the light illuminates all its corners and this is where the Inti Raymi celebration takes place in honor to the sun.
Horarios de atención: de lunes a domingo de 09:00 a 17:30
Costo: adultos $ 6; adultos mayores y niños $3

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