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Located on a valley at about 2500 meters above sea level and surrounded by majestic mountains, Cuenca is Ecuador’s third biggest city. Given its stable climate, rich soil and abundant water sources; this area has been inhabited for thousands of years, since long before the Spanish conquistadors arrived to the American continent.
Today, Cuenca is one of Ecuador’s most attractive cities for expats and tourists alike. Apart from its year-round spring-like climate, one of the city’s main pulls is its undeniable charm. With its gorgeous architecture and clean streets, Cuenca’s historic centre was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
Most of the architecture in Cuenca’s city centre dates from the 18th century. However, much of it got modernised in the 19th century as the city went through an economic boom. Some of the most notable buildings are the New Cathedral, the Old Cathedral, the Carmelite Monastery and the Santo Domingo Church.
The city centre still follows the grid-like street pattern of its colonial past. Also, it’s small enough that you can explore it by foot; but it’s still big enough to keep it interesting. And when you venture out of the historic area, you’re greeted by nice and colourful street art and well maintained parks. What else could you ask for?
If you’d like to know more about one of Ecuador’s most charming cities, check out my article about Cuenca on the viventura blog. And for more Cuenca architecture photos, visit my gallery.
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Have you travelled to Ecuador? Which was your favourite city there? Why? Leave me a comment, I’d love to know!
Great photos- that street art is awesome. I’m going to have to make sure I stop in Cuenca when I’m a little further South.
Thanks, Katie! I’m sure you’ll love Cuenca, the city has a really nice vibe. And if you’d like to enjoy a bit of the surrounding nature, you shouldn’t miss the Cajas National Park :) Happy travels!
We loved Cuenca! Small enough to feel like a community, not a noisy city, large enough to offer all required services PLUS a few goodies (have you tried the ice cream parlor at the plaza?). The center is not spoiled by too many modern buildings and no highrises, prefect in size to get around on foot. There’s a large organic market every Saturday, some good restaurants, also with vegetarian options, etc.
I could move there if it wouldn’t be in such high altitude with no real summer temperatures – at least once a year I have to “sweat it out” at home… Move Cuenca 1,000 meters lower and I would come to live ;)
Thanks for stopping by Juergen :) I did try the ice cream parlor at the plaza, loved the place! However, I missed the Saturday market because I couldn’t stay that long. I don’t mind the altitude and mild temperature all year round, it makes a very green place and I like that. I do love to sweat out as well; the good thing is that the coast is not that far away. So Cuenca remain highs on my list of favourite cities in South America. Happy travels!