Santa Ana de los cuatro Ríos de Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador. It is located
in the highlands of Southern Ecuador on an altitude of 2500m (8200 ft) above sea level.
The city was founded in 1557 by the Spanish explorer Gil Ramirez Davalos and is one of the
most beautiful colonial cities of Ecuador. It offers limitless sightseeing opportunities and
is a real paradise for those interested in the colonial era.
Plaza Abdon Calderón is the city's main plaza and the spot around which Cuenca revolves.
The Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción (New Cathedral) with its huge blue domes is an impressive sight
that dominates the plaza.
On the opposite side of the plaza is the Old Cathedral (El Sagrario). Construction
of the New Cathedral was begun in 1885 and, after numerous stops and starts, was finally finished in 1967.
Construction of the El Sagrario began in 1557, the year Cuenca was founded.
The historical center is just charming with its cobble stoned streets lined with churches
and colonial houses with colorful facades, balustrades, wrought iron balconies and red tiled
roofs. The impressive churches date back to the 16th to 17th century. Although it can't beat
Salvador da Bahía from Brazil in the church contest Cuenca still has some 52 wonderful
churches to enjoy, one for every Sunday. The city has been chosen "Capital of South America"
in 2002. It is a must see city when you travel in Ecuador.
Attractions of Cuenca
Panama Hat Factory
As any self-respecting Ecuador traveler knows, Panama hats are not made in Panama, they are made in Ecuador.
Church of Santo Domingo
The second largest church in the city, it boasts twin 40-meter high brick towers and a beautiful facade.
it is located at Gran Colombia and Padre Aguirre.
Church of San Blas
One of the largest churches in the city and the only one built in the form of a Latin cross. The original church,
built in the 16th century, was replaced with a new one in the beginning of the 20th century.
Church of Todos Santos
The first church built in Cuenca. Next to it is one of the four crosses that marked the city's original limits.
The church is located on the descent of Todos Santos off of Calle Larga near the river.
Plazoleta del Carmen
A block from Parque Calderón, at the corner of Sucre and Aguirre is the church of El Carmen de la Asunción.
Few people come to visit the church, it is seldom open, but many come to take a look at the daily flower market in the church's plaza.
Museo de las Culturas Aborígenes
A new museum that houses a private collection of 5,000 archeological pieces representing over 20 pre-Columbian
cultures of Ecuador. It is at least as good as the Banco Central's collection.
Ruins may be found along Calle Larga, Avenida Todos los Santos, and along the river. Though the Spanish destroyed all the complete
structures when they built Cuenca, some interesting walls and stonework remain along this stretch. If you are interested in Inca ruins, you
should also take a day-trip to Ingapirca, Ecuador's most important Inca ruin. It is about 70 kilometers
north of Cuenca on the Pan-American Highway. Buses for Ingapirca leave frequently from the Terminal Terrestre.
© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire