Monday, 21 March 2011

Around Cuenca

Cuenca (full name Santa Ana de los cuatro ríos de Cuenca) is the third largest city in Ecuador by population, which totals 467,000. It is the capital of the Azuay Province.  It is located in the highlands of Ecuador about 2500 m above sea level.  The center of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site because of its many historical buildings.

Cuenca is a city of stairs, many of which lead to one of the 4 rivers in the city.

Cuenca is the centre of the Panama Hat Industry.  Other crafts include leather jackets, ceramics, embroideries, baskets, gold jewellery and clothing.   Stores selling cheap Chinese goods abound, there are several modern malls in the City, crafts fairs always seem to be coming into town and as well there are oodles of places that sell Ecuadorian fine crafts & souvenirs. 

Small stores serving mostly the indigenous people, are packed with goods from floor to ceiling but there are also elegant clothing stores, large, well stocked grocery stores, as well as huge public indigenous markets. 

It's not unusual to see anything from a one-man band playing several instruments to the City's symphony orchestra (and everything and every skill level in between) at numerous venues around the town.

Since the Spanish colonization, Ecuador became a Roman Catholic country. The Catholic Church had and still has an important place in the Ecuadorian government and society.  Shrines, churches, memorial crosses and often religious parades are in evidence just about everywhere you turn.

There are opportunities for unique pictures every direction you look.

As well as a green belt siding each of the rivers that flows through Cuenca, there are several parks & plazas, including:  Parque Paraiso, Parque Calderon, Luis Cordero, Victor J. Cuesta, De La Madre and San Blas.  The parks in Cuenca are well used by it's residents and provide a green place for contemplation or a formal garden area and benches to sit on and watch the world go by.

Cuenca is the kind of place that you can easily spend a couple of days wandering the beautiful colonial streets and lingering in the churches and markets, taking in the atmosphere. One of Cuenca's bigger public markets is the 10 de Agosto, where you can get a good feel for local life.

To see more pictures of Ecuadorian ChurchesAt the Market or Around Cuenca, click the links.