According to studies and archeological discoveries, the origins of the first inhabitants go back to the year 8060 BC in the
. They were hunters, hunting everything the Páramo offered them, and nomadic, following the animals and seasons. The culture is represented by tools such as arrows and spears, which have been found throughout the Andean alley. The culture was most present about 5585 BC. Cave of Chopsi
Later the early indigenous people used the stable climate, fertile soil and abundant water to develop agriculture. They grew potatoes, melloco, chocho, squash and quinoa. They also domesticated animals such as cuys, and camelids: llamas and alpacas.
Their technology also advanced; they started creating ceramics. These comprise the greatest number of artifacts which archeologists use to study their culture. The period from 5000 BCE to 2000 BCE is not represented well in the archeological record. Beginning around 2000 BCE, the people developed a more highly organized society, demonstrating delegated responsibilities, such as the managing of water and control of plagues. People specialized as administrative and religious authorities (known as shamans). This occurred during the periods of Chaullabamba, Huayco, Pirincay, Monjas, Putushio, Huancarcucho and Jubones. From then until 500 AD began the periods of Tacalshapa III and the Cañari people, who were absorbed into the Incas in the 15th century.
After the defeat of the Cañari, the Inca commander, Tupac Yupanqui, ordered the construction of a grand city to be called Pumapungo, "the door of the Puma". Its magnificence was to challenge that of the Inca capital of
. Indians told stories to the Spanish chroniclers of golden temples and other such wonders, but by the time the Spaniards found the legendary city, all that remained were ruins. They wondered what happened to the fabled splendor and riches of the second Inca capital. After having been abandoned by the Cañari and then the Incas, Tomebamba was sparsely populated until the 1550s. Cuzco
Tumebamba is considered a candidate for the mythical city of gold which the Spanish called
. The Spanish thought El Dorado was burned by the inhabitants after they heard of the Spanish conquests. Tomebamba's destruction by its inhabitants prior to the arrival of the Spanish suggests it may have been what the Spanish called El Dorado . El Dorado
The Spanish settlement of
was founded on April 12, 1557 by the explorer Gil Ramírez Dávalos. Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza, then Viceroy of Peru had commissioned the founding and ordered the city named after his home town of Cuenca Cuenca, . It was founded decades after other major Spanish settlements in the region, such as Spain Quito (1534), (1538), and Loja (1548). Guayaquil
As per the last census, the population of the
canton was 417,632 inhabitants, of which 267,000 constitute the urban population (i.e., the population of the city proper). The economic development is based on industry and agricultural development. Cuenca Cuenca has a long lasting reputation for being a . It hosts two universities, the oldest and best known one being university city (Universidad de Cuenca), a public university with about 12,000 students. University of Cuenca
Geography and location
The dominant features of the city's geography are also the source of its name in Spanish: the four rivers of
(meaning a basin made by a confluence of rivers). These rivers are the Tomebamba (named after the Cañari culture), Yanuncay, Tarqui and Machangara, in order of importance. The first three of these rivers originate in the Páramo of Parque Nacional Cajas to the west of the city. These four rivers are part of the Cuenca Amazon river watershed. is surrounded by mountains on all sides, with passes to the west, south and east. Cuenca
Cuenca Canton contains the following parishes:
Octavio Cordero Palacios (
) Santa Rosa
Victoria del Portete (Irquis)
Most tourists visit the historic area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, between the river Tomebamba and the street Gran Colombia to the north, General Torres to the west, and Hermano Miguel to the east. This area's compactness, grid-like layout, and numerous readily identifiable monuments make it easy to navigate. Outside this area the city can be confusing, as there are dozens of narrow colonial streets with similar buildings.
Major fiestas of
come at the time of the "Mass of Children" that is carried out the day of the Arrival of Kings (January 6 - Epiphany Day), or in the commemoration of the independence of the city (November 3), during which processions, cultural acts and dances are organized. The nearby Cañar plantation (in the county of the same name) features the biggest Inca ruins in Cuenca . Ecuador
Old Cathedral (Iglesia de El Sagrario). It was built in 1557, but soon was too small for the faithful of the town. In 1880, they decided to build a temple to replace it. At the present time, the old cathedral is in process of restoration. It is no longer consecrated and is operated as a museum.
New cathedral (official name: Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción). Its towers are truncated due to a calculation error of the architect. If they had been raised to their planned height, the foundation of this church to the Immaculate Conception, would not have been able to bear the weight. In spite of the architect's immense mistake, the New Cathedral of Cuenca is a monumental work of faith that began to be built in 1880. It is in Neo-Gothic style, and its blue and white domes have become a symbol for the city. Its facade is made of alabaster and local marble, while the floor is covered with pink marble, brought from
Carrara ( ). When the Cathedral was first constructed 9,000 out of Italy 's 10,000 inhabitants could fit in the building. Cuenca
Park Abdon Calderon. It is located in the center of
between the old and new cathedrals. On the park benches, people meet to converse and absorb its tranquility. The municipal offices are located nearby. Cuenca
Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion. In the atrium a colorful flower market supplements the beauty of the church which was founded in 1682. A sculpted stone facade and a golden pulpit make the church very attractive.
, with 17th century tombs and a complete collection of religious art. Museum of La Concepcion
House of the Ecuadorian Culture
Museum of the Central Bank
Museum of the Aboriginal Cultures
Ruinas de todos los
. In this old place, four niches of Inca origin exist. Their form is trapezoidal and they are built of stone. There are also remains of a colonial mill. santos
Molleturo, a vast rural area (about 1000 square kilometres) situated in
Ecuador’s southern Andes, and composed of several little villages (hamlets). The centre of the area is located at 1.5 hours of distance in car from the nearest bigger city ( ). In fact, this distance is very little compared to ten years ago when there was no road for cars and it took people 3 days of mule riding to get to Cuenca . In spite of the advantages, the road had also very negative impacts on the ecological system, which is still very important for people's daily survival. Cuenca
Jima, located near
Cuenca and is a hiking hotspot for Southern Ecuador. Jima is located at the base of two beautiful green mountains at 8,800 feet. Hikes for all skill levels are available including a three day hike from the peaks of the Andes mountains down into the lush tropical rainforest of the Amazon basin.
Chordeleg. Less than 50 kilometers from
Cuenca, it is a town of origin, known for its weavers, embroiderers and potters. In the same area there is a stone corridor in snake form, built in pre-Inca time, known for gold and silver smiths and local jewelry. Cañari
El Cajas, a national park where the rivers, streams and lagoons seem to unite, to create a temple of nature, in which the altitude varies from the 3500 to the 4200 meters above the sea level. It is a place for bird watchers and trout fishermen.
Azogues, the capital of
Cañar Province, 29 kilometers separate it from . In this city of colonial atmosphere, one of the highlights is Cuenca 's convent, built on the summit of a huaca (sacred mountain) of the prehispanic residents. San Francisco
Cañar plantation, with a coloring market and the near ruins of Ingapirca (wall of Inca stone). Cañar plantation is located 65 kilometers from
and it is usually the starting point for the trips to the famous ruins that, according to the experts, were used to control the native Cañaris. Stores, bathrooms, a tambo for the Inca, a temple dedicated to the sun, they are part of Ingapirca that was built in the XV century by orders of Huayna Capac. Cuenca
Buses arrive and depart throughout the day. Service is available to major cities, such as
Guayaquil and Quito and also to nearby cities such as Loja, Riobamba, or . The distance to Machala Guayaquil is 243 km. and the bus takes nearly 4 hours on the highway Durán-Pto.Inca-Molleturo, a scenic ride through the . Cajas National Park Quito is 497 km from and the trip takes around 10 hours on the Road Pan-American South. Many prefer to travel by bus at night. Those who choose to travel overnight should exercise caution due to reported bus hijacks which have resulted in armed robbery. Cuenca
The airport, named Aeropuerto Mariscal Lamar (
), is located due east of the Terminal Terrestre (bus station) on Avenida España. It's a 5-minute walk from the bus station.Three airlines serve Mariscal Lamar Airport Cuenca in 2011; TAME and AeroGal fly to Quito and Guayaquil daily while LAN Ecuador only flies to . RYU Peruvian airline Star Peru announced that it will begin flying to and from Quito in November 2010; however operations have not started yet. Chiclayo, Peru