"Cuenca - Ecuador" Top 5 Page for this destination Cuenca by pure1942

Cuenca Travel Guide: 272 reviews and 825 photos

Cuenca's Colonial Charm

Situated in the grassy southern highlands of Ecuador’s Azuay Province, Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city and its colonial charms are a huge draw for visitors to the country. What Cuenca lacks in the grandeur of Quito’s architectural masterpieces, it more than makes up for in outright charm.
Located on the banks of the Rio Tomebamba, Cuenca is a gloriously pleasant spot to hang about for a few days and it wasn’t surprising to find out that Cuenca is one of the Americas most popular cities or retirees from the US and Canada. Arriving in Cuenca it is easy to see why many people are now looking to this peaceful city as a suitable place to see out their retirement. The city’s historic and picturesque colonial centre is offset by an outlying residential district which rolls up the grassy hillsides surrounding the city and gives Cuenca the rather odd feeling of a modern European city. Outside the distinctly South American colonial centre, things start to seem strangely un-South American! The chaos and traffic experienced in many other South American cities is somewhat lacking in Cuenca and things seem just a little bit more controlled and orderly in this Ecuadorian city.

Of course Cuenca’s star attractions lie within its historic centre and this is what most people outside retirement age come to see. Stretching out to the north of the river, the centre of Cuenca oozes with colonial charm and the narrow cobblestone streets are home to masses of architectural jewels from the colonial period. The iconic blue domes of the ‘New Cathedral’, or Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción as it is officially known, have become the symbol of the city are a striking focal point of central Cuenca. And surrounding the Cathedral are a mass of other towering spires and clock towers protruding from the myriad of churches located in the old town.

If you tire of Cuenca’s colonial legacy you can make your way towards the river for a peak even further back in history with a scattering of Inca Ruins on the banks of the Tomebamba and a riveting insight into the highland, coastal and jungle tribes of Ecuador through the ethnographical exhibits of the Museo del Banco Central ‘Pumapunga’ whose highlight is definitely the displays of Ecuadorian shrunken heads or tsantsas! And if Cuenca itself doesn’t hold your attention you can make the short bus ride to Ingapirca, Ecuador’s most important Inca ruins.

  • Last visit to Cuenca: Jul 2010
  • Intro Updated Oct 28, 2010
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Reviews (28)

Comments (6)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    Ingrid (Trekki) told me I would enjoy your pages, and she was right :-) We are hoping to go to Ecuador next year - not yet sure if we will get down to Cuenca, but your tips have inspired me to try! I love the balconies especially, and the old buildings generally. Great transport tips too!

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    Nice collection of churches and La Cigala seems a great place to stay. Loved the details of the beautifully preserved colonial style buildings, especially the carved wooden doors and balconies. Always enjoy reading the stories about the border crossing :)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Feb 13, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    Cuenca looks lovely! I will defenitely stay here for a few days when I visit Ecuador!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    Fine photos and interesting tips on Cuenca. Sounds like it would be worth a detour to see the Inca ruins.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Hello, Brian! Thanks for your interesting sory! ><><

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    Brian, fascinating new page with outstanding photos. I especially like your description of the border crossing from Peru. The hostel seems to be a good find as well.

pure1942

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