According to wholevehicles, Cuenca is the capital of the province of Azuay and the third largest city in Ecuador. It is located in the Ecuadorian Andes at an altitude of 2530 meters above sea level between the Eastern and Western Cordillera. According to one version, the name of the city comes from the Spanish “depression, hollow.” According to another version, the name is translated as “valley, river basin”, which is also quite true, since the relief features are created by the rivers of the Amazon basin – Yuankai, Tariki, Tomebamba and Machangara. In addition, Cuenca is surrounded on all sides by picturesque mountains, the passes of which are located in the south, west and east.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to Cuenca is by plane (albeit with a transfer to local airlines) – you can fly here by flight from Guayaquil or from Quito. In both directions there are direct flights from Moscow. You can leave Cuenca Airport for 0.5 USD by any bus – they all pass through the tourist center. Take a taxi to any part of the city – from 2 USD.
By rail, the journey from Quito to Cuenca will take about 9 hours, from Guayaquil – 4 hours. Highways passing through Cuenca are marked as N-320 (Venturada – Guadalajara – Cuenca – La Jineta) and N-420 Cordoba – Cuenca – Tarragona.
Weather in Cuenca, Ecuador
The Mediterranean climate of Ecuador is not harsh, tourists come here throughout the year, without fear of large temperature changes and surprises of nature. The average temperature throughout the year ranges from +21°C to +18°C during the day, and from +10°C to +7°C at night. In total, Cuenca has two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season lasts from January to June, with the heaviest rains from March to May. The dry period lasts from July to December.
A bit of history
In its current form, the city of Cuenca was founded by J.R. Davalos in 1557, when it received the name “Santa Anda de los cuatro rios de Cuenca”. However, these places were inhabited much earlier: the first documentary mention of this place dates back to 784. However, there is an opinion that the city found the times of the Roman Empire: in 500 BC. e. The Cañari Indians founded here the settlement of Guanpodeleg, “the land as big as the sky.” And during the time of the Incas, the city was conquered and renamed Tomebamba. Since then, the city has managed to survive many upheavals, to visit both Muslim and Catholic. In 1999, Cuenca was declared a world cultural heritage and is now protected by UNESCO.
Springs and treatment in Cuenca
Cuenca is famous for its hot springs. You don’t have to go far, they are located almost near the city limits. Several complexes have been built here, which provide a full range of therapeutic, relaxing courses, as well as “beauty procedures”, including SPA procedures, massage and hydromassage. There are several swimming pools for adults and children.
Perhaps that is why in the vicinity of Cuenca there is a high-mountainous “valley of centenarians” Vilcabambu, whose inhabitants easily live up to 100-130 years.
Souvenirs of Cuenca
Cuenca is famous for its panama hats. Moreover, each of them is not just a small straw hat, but a whole work of art, which is simply impossible not to take away as a souvenir to remember the rest spent here. In addition, these places are famous for silver jewelry, ceramics, fine embroidery. And not far from Cuenca is the town of Chordeleg, famous for its gold and silver chasers.
The Ecuadorian government pays a lot of attention to the tourism business. For example, in addition to police escort of tourists, a special tourist police is organized here, designed to protect the peace and safety of guests. Now the police are on duty in places of the greatest concentration of tourists – in hotels, restaurants, clubs, as well as near attractions. Moreover, it was decided to implement this project in Cuenca, in order to then spread it to other cities of Ecuador.
Entertainment and attractions of Cuenca
Cuenca is famous for its amazing architectural monuments of the colonial era, made of local marble. The most famous of them: the Cathedral of the Catedral de La Inmaculada Concepción under magnificent azure domes, the Church of San Sebastian, the monastery and church of the Convento de Las Conceptas, the monastery of Carmen de la Asuncion, the Cathedral of San Francisco on the square of the same name, as well as the no less charming squares of Risoletta del Carmen or Plaza de Las Flores.
There are many museums in Cuenca, and each of them is of interest to a tourist interested in art and history. The private Ethnographic Museum is rich in the rarest exhibits of the Mayan and Inca eras. The Central Bank Museum is famous for its exposition on the history of pre-Columbian America. The Museum De Las Conceptas, housed in the hospital of the Convent of Immaculada Concepción, exhibits an excellent collection of religious art from the 17th to 19th centuries. It will be no less interesting to visit the De Art Populares Museum in the old mansion Centro Interamericano de Atezanias y Artes Populares, which exhibits the richest collection of applied art from almost the entire continent.
A favorite tourist spot in Cuenca is the historic district between the Tomebamba River and the streets of Gran Colombia, General Torres and Hermano Miguel. The area is small, but there are many monuments from different eras.
Near the city, in the district of Cañaris, are the ruins of Tomebamba – an ancient settlement of these places – the largest center of ethnographic geological excavations in Ecuador. No less popular is the Inca fortress of Ingapirca, 50 km north of Cuenca – once a major political and religious center, turned by the Incas into a ceremonial castle and military fortification.
Not far from Cuenca is El Cayas – a country of 200 lakes and lagoons, a picturesque and at the same time quite secluded place. To the northeast of the city are the picturesque settlements of Gualaseo and Horteleg, famous for their artists and artisans.