Cuenca Tourist Attractions
Cuenca, officially known as Santa Ana de los cuatro rios de Cuenca, is located in southern Ecuador. Cuenca is one of the largest cities in Ecuador outside of Quito and Guayaquil and has a long history. The historical city center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderful place to wander the streets.This area has been inhabited since Pre-Inca times but the colonial influences and more recent restorations are what have shaped the modern day city of Cuenca. Some of the historic buildings have been brought down to accommodate modern development, leaving the city with a mix of new and old.
The historic city center of Cuenca is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is an architectural treasure showing influence from different periods over a four hundred year span. Both Spanish and Indian elements prevail.The historic city center is also where many of Cuenca's key attractions are located. This is a great place to spend a day or two wandering through the old streets.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is located in the historical center of Cuenca on the Parque Calderon. This massive church has three blue domes and is easily recognizable by its red exterior. The interior is also impressive with a huge marble altar.The cathedral is relatively modern having been built in the late 1960s.
Church of San Sebastian
The Church of San Sebastian is located near the western edge of the historic center, in the plaza of the same name. The church is a mix of architectural styles with Gothic and Neoclassical elements.
In the heart of the old town is the Calderon Park. The Cathedral is located here and a statue of Abdón Calderón stands in the middle of the square.
Plaza San Blas Square
Plaza de San Blas is dominated by the Church of San Blas. In the plaza stands a monument to Manuel Calle, as well as fountains and trees.
San Francisco Square
Plaza de San Francisco has long been a place for selling local goods. Merchants set up here selling textiles and other goods.
Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador
The Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador in Cuenca displays archeological finds from a variety of periods and cultures, including the Cañaris, Inca, and Spanish. The collection includes a wide range of items from coins to religious art. Visitors can take a self guided or fully guided tour.
Interamerican Center of Popular Arts
There are many interesting day trips that can be done from Cuenca. In the surrounding area are some parks and natural areas with short hikes and hot springs.
Parque Nacional Cajas
Parque Nacional Cajas is located just a short drive west of Cuenca. This forest area offers a range of outdoor possibilities including hiking or horseback riding, and even white water rafting. There is some accommodation in the area for those wish to spend some time exploring Parque Nacional Cajas.
The little community of Chordeleg is located just a short drive outside Cuenca. The natural surroundings here offer a peaceful atmosphere and visitors can take advantage of the arts and crafts for which the town is well known.