Cuenca is a treasure to discover in Latin America, a city you fall in love with when you visit it. Known as the Athens of Ecuador, it is the third largest city, set in a valley surrounded by the Andean mountains in the south of the country.
Why is this town so extraordinary? It is due to its majestic architecture that combines modernity with tradition. Cuenca has a great cultural diversity, where we can see how city people and traditional artisans co-exist in the streets. Let’s discover the best jewels to see in Cuenca!
The best jewels to discover if you travel to Cuenca, in Ecuador
In the heart of Cuenca, there is a historic centre that was declared World Heritage by UNESCO. Travelers will find parks, squares, churches and cobblestone streets as they walk. You can also drink the typical canelazo in a terrace or a modern Internet cafe if you want.
For those who like shopping or artcrafts, the typical souvenir of the city are the straw hats known as Panama Hats. The historic centre is plenty of shops and markets to buy them in many different styles, and you can also see some galleries with them, or even see how they make them at the artisan shops.
The new Cathedral
One of the iconic monuments of the city is La Catedral, located in front of Parque Calderon, in the social and historical heart of Cuenca. This catholic church of the 19th Century is one of the most monumental of Latin America. It has marvelous white and blue domes that can be seen from many spots of the city, and combines Neo-Gothic style with Romanesque, Baroque and Byzantine Revivals.
For those who prefer Baroque original monuments, the Old Cathedral or Iglesia del Sagrario is nowadays a Museum for Religious Art. Though the cathedral has undergone a number of renovations, it has maintained its original character of the 16th Century.
There are also other worth seeing colonial churches in Cuenca, with interesting Baroque elements, such as Santo Domingo, Turi and San Francisco.
Indigenous Culture Museum
If you want to go back some 15,000 years, you can visit the Indigenous Culture Museum, with more than 5,000 archaeological pieces that represent more than 20 pre-Hispanic Ecuadorian cultures.
There are other interesting museums in the city, like the Museum of the Old Cathedral, the Central Bank Museum, the Museum of Modern Art or the Medicine Museum, among others.
If you have time to visit the surroundings, we recommend you to visit also El Cajas National Park, located 18 miles from the city. This reserve is a beautiful spot with lakes, rivers, forests, wild species and even some Inca ruins. You can have a perfect end of your visit, hiking, fishing, bird-watching or taking some beautiful photos for your family album!