Spanish conquistadors founded the city in 1558 and went on to build one of South America’s most beautiful cities. Because of the preservation of churches, plazas, homes and municipal building, Cuenca has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city’s full name is Santa Ana de los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca which references the four rivers that run through Cuenca. The Tomebamba is of those rivers, providing a natural separation between the historic district and the modern area to the south. The river features scenic walking & bike paths with several bridges to cross over.
Cuenca is Ecuador’s third-largest city and the economic center of the southern Sierra. It is a 45-minute flight from the capital, Quito. With a growing population roughly 640,000, the moderate costs, mild temperatures and quality of lifestyle have made it a hot spot for North American retirees, estimated to be around 10,000.
A century ago, Cuenca became known for the making of “Panama” hats, which are from toquilla palm grown locally. Today, in addition to the hat industry, Cuenca is the center of many craft traditions, including ceramics, furniture, metalworks and jewelry sold throughout Ecuador. It is well know for festivals, art studios and Spanish language schools.
For additional information and activities or sites to visit in and around Cuenca, please follow the links below: