While Quito is the economic capital and Guayaquil the political capital of Ecuador, Cuenca is the cultural capital because it is the cradle of many poets and illustrious men.
It is known as Santa Ana of the eight shores because of the four rivers that cross it and that are formed from the lagoons of the Cajas National Park: the Tomebamba, which divides the old city and the new city, the Tarqui, the Yanuncay and the Machángara, which join to the northwest of the city forming the River Cuenca. Its historical center combines the past Inca and Cañari influences with and the subsequent Spanish and Republican, taking shape in its architecture and giving it a beautiful aesthetic that has led it to be considered one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best way to discover Cuenca is to walk along its cobbled streets and see its many churches, squares, museums, parks, houses, monasteries or art galleries. On each side of the city’s Abdón Calderón Park, in the old town, are magnificent cathedrals: that of the Immaculate Conception or New Cathedral that combines several styles such as the Neoclassical, Baroque, Romanesque and Gothic and stands out for the three beautiful blue domes. The oldest buildings in the city are the monasteries of the Conception. The church of San Blas, from San Francisco and Santo Domingo, also deserve their due attention.
On Mariscal Street is the Plaza de las Flores. The monastery and the church of Carmen de la Asunción are mixed with the smell of roses, chrysanthemums and lilies that the Cuencans buy every day.A curious detail of many houses in the historic city is that they have crosses on their roofs. These vary according to who their inhabitants were: marble in Spanish houses and iron in those of the mestizos. Also of iron, but on a half moon, on the houses of the cañari.
In the restaurants along Larga Street, you can taste roasted guinea pig, mote-pata soup or sweet alajú. Urban art coexists with the traditional and many facades are stained with colorful graffiti, both elaborate and ingenious. Although modernity and technologies have begun to influence the city, the truth is that there are still families that weave handmade crafts and small factories produce the famous Panama hats. Markets are the best meeting place and social exchange where the essence of the city is discovered. The most emblematic is the 9th of October Market, a multi-story building where you can buy fresh, traditional produce, handicrafts and souvenirs. In Cuenca, there are up to 20 museums to choose from such as the Pu Mapungo, the Museum of Aboriginal Cultures or Modern Art.4 km south of the city is the viewpoint of Turi where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Other tourist attractions of Cuenca are the thermal waters of the Baños parish and the Tomebamba ravine. The so-called "Ecuadorian Athens" captivates visitors with its history and heritage. It combines beautiful landscapes, tradition and art and attracts all kinds of travelers, those who seek nature, culture, adventure or relaxation.
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