- Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca
- We visited Cuenca again in 2005
after a gap of some years and were pleased to find that it still
retains all its charm. As before, we stayed in the the Hotel
- Cuenca is a beautiful Andean
city, famous for its colonial architecture, its parks, churches
and museums and art galleries. The old city still has cobbled
streets and landscaped parks laid out on a grid set up 450 years
ago. The buildings are typically colonial mansions with iron
balconies and pantiled roofs with large overhanging eaves, laid
out around beautiful balconied courtyards -you may be able to
a glimpse of them past the heavy doors that front the streets.
- The city is a good place to
stop and do a Spanish course if you want to get away from the
hustle of Quito. For a briefer stay it is an ideal location for
two or three days away from Quito -one day can be spent wandering
the town, visiting museums, buying artwork and local crafts and
enjoying coffee and lunch in one of the cities many restaurants,
and another can be spent visiting a local site -perhaps Ingapirca,
Chordeleg or walking and pony trekking in the Cajas National
Cuenca Sights -colonial
architecture, churches, parks, museums and galleries
Carmen de la Asunción -pretty
baroque chapel (pictured) on Calle Mariscal Sucre at Calle Padre
Aguirre, modest outside and ornate within, with the flower market
just outside on the Plazoleta El Carmen.
Catedral de la Inmaculada -this
extraordinary and huge edifice is actually quite recent, having
been commenced in 1886 to designs of a German. Personally I find
the architecture somewhat heavy, but the setting can't be faulted
In front of the Cathedral, the beautifully maintained central
square, Parque Abdón Calderón is one of the finest
open open spaces in Latin America.
El Sagrario -the restored old
cathedral on Av. Gran Colombia is one of the oldest churches
in Ecuador, and dates back to the founding of the city in 1557.
It was also used by the French Geodesic mission as a reference
point in calculting the earth's circumference.
de Arte Moderno -situated in a restored convent , the museum
is well worth a visit, with some interesting work arranged around
landscape courtyards. We had an interesting time here as some
of the alarms are fairly sensitive and easily set off! Located
on Calle Mariscal Sucre at Calle Coronel Talbot, a brief walk
from the centre.
Museo de las Conceptas -interesting, but bleak view of life
as a catholic nun. The site is still run as a convent, but part
has been given over as a museum. Impressive collection of religious
art made by the young nuns from the 16th century onwards -you
can step inside the world of the young girls whose lives were
given by their families to be spent in the service of the church.
Calle Hermano Miguel 6-33, between Calles Juan Jaramillo and
Other museums worth a look include
Banco Central, Casa de la Cultura, Museo
Remigio Crespo, Artes Populares de América, and Instituto
Azuayo de Folclore.
The Barranco -fronting the River Tomebamba
is a built up cliff face made up of many fine buildings, including
Hotel Crespo. It is
well worth a walk, both along Calle Larga at the top and also
along the banks of the river below.
Mirador de Turi -you will need
to catch a taxi out of town to this viewing point of the city.
Not much else here, apart from the Vega
workshop, which is worth a visit in its own right.
and tour operators
We found Terra Diversa to
be very helpful in providing information about tours. I suspect
the tour companies are largely offering the same tours as each
activity seems to be restricted to particular days of the week
according to their subject -horse trekking, Ingapirca, Chordaleg
etc. Of course you can also just hop on a bus to visit other
nearby sites in southern Ecuador.
tourist information visit the tourist office in Calle Hermano
tourism portal for the area (Spanish)
Diversa -provide travel
information and tours -trekking, riding, mountain biking - in
a relaxed setting with coffee shop with library and internet
access at Hermano Miguel and Honorato Vasquez.
Apullacta - Cuenca based
travel agency, can provide tours to Ingapirca, Chordaleg, Gualaceo,
Cajas, Yunguilla or further afield.
-tours both within the city and surrounding areas -nicely presented
website gives a clear idea of the what each tour offers.
Tours -Swiss run tour
company offering riding tours.
- Seitur -their website gives little away!
Arts and Crafts
- There are some great buys to be had in
Cuenca, especially ceramics, jewellery and art work -the best
known are listed below but it is worth just exploring to look
for bargains by other artists too. Cuenca is also noted for the
quality of its Panama Hats (toquillas).
- There is an interesting handicrafts
market in Mercado Artesanal -located at Plaza Rotary on Gaspar
Sangurima and Mariano Cueva, this is a great place to buy pots
(and a few other things too)! Market days for the city are Thursday
Dawi -Argentinian born
artist living and working in Cuenca.
-Cuencas best known ceramic manufacturer. Well worth a look.
- Artes de la Tierra
- a group of Cuencan artists who produce fine objects in ceramics
and wood. Ceramics are designed and produced by Maria Augusta
Crespo, Juan Guillermo Vega and Lorena Tamariz; furniture and
wood carvings are the products of Ernesto Jaramillo, an Architect
who works with a selected group of skilled artisans designing
and building unique carvings and wood cabinets.
-fair trade co-operative selling craft and artisanal products.
Vega -ceramics on sale
from his workshop near Mirador de Turi.
Ortega -panama hats hand
woven in Cuenca and claimed to be the finest in the world. Factory
Toquilla -panama hats
on sale at Juan Jaramillo and Hermano Miguel.
- The are a number of excellent
hotels in the city, often in beautifully restored colonial buildings.
We have stayed a couple of times in the elegant Hotel
Crespo (pictured) noted for its extensive wooden panelling
and views out over the Tomebamba from the guest rooms.
- More hotels
- The city has a number of good
hostals for the budget traveller. As well as accommodation, most
will arrange for Spanish classes and tours. See our list of hostels in Cuenca.
See our hotels
listing too, as many of the best restaurants can be found in
these. The city is blessed with some dream situations for restaurants
in the courtyards of the old colonial buildings. Often they are
not well advertised from the street, so you need to keep your
eyes peeled as you walk around, and look past into the courtyards
-pictured opposite is the courtyard of the Hotel
- As well as looking in the city
centre, it is well worth taking a walk along the Barranco to
find restaurants with views over the Tomebamba river. There are
a number of interesting places here -Hotel Crespo, El Jordan
and the Austrian owned Wunderbar amongst others.
- A short walk out away is Las
Tres Estrellas (pictured), where we had a real meatfest at a
very reasonable price, accompanied by "canelazo", a
typical drink made with Ecuadorian sugar cane spirit and cinnamon.
- El Jardín
-expensive high quality restaurant on the ground floor of Hotel
- El Jordan
-describes itself as the best restaurant in town, serving arabian
and international cuisine in an elegant setting overlooking the
- Café Eucalyptus -international tapas restaurant and bar.
-slightly stuffy restaurant in the city's top hotel but with
great views over the Tomebamba.
- Hotel Inca Real -elegant patio restaurant in the courtyard of
an historic hotel building.
- Mansion Alcazar -gourmet restaurant in the restored hotel.
- Los Capulíes. live andean music on weekends compliments typical
Cuencan food in this bar and restaurant in a two hundred year
old mansion on Calle Borrero.
- Others worth looking at, but
do not appear to have a website: Wunderbar (Austrian bar), El
Maiz (typical Cuenca), El Pedregal Azteca (Mexican), Montebello
(Mediterranean), Raymipampa (Ecuadorian), Villarosa (international).
Air: Mariscal Lamar Airport is
just 2 km near the bus station, and can be reached by a short
taxi ride. There are flights to Quito and Guyaquil with Tame,
Icaro and Austro.
Bus: Located on Av España,
near the airport in the northeast of town, the Terminal Terreste
has buses running to Quito and Guayaquil as well as local destinations
including Cajas National Park, Ingapirca and Chordeleg.
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