LiveTheLifeinEcuador | January 22, 2015
A wonderful combination of old-world charm and modern conveniences, the city of Cuenca has become one of the most popular destinations in Ecuador. The “Athens of Ecuador,” whose historic center is UNESCO world heritage site, is home to a vibrant artistic, cultural, and intellectual scene. It has produced many notable artists, philosophers, writers, and poets over the years, more than any other Ecuadorian city.
In Cuenca, you’ll find dozens upon dozens of grand cathedrals, cloisters, plazas, and museums as well as art cafés, galleries, and specialty boutiques. The best way to get to know Cuenca is to explore its network of alleyways and cobblestone streets; getting lost in a city this beautiful won’t be so bad.
Parque Calderón. This lush garden located in Cuenca’s city center has easy access to two spectacular cathedrals. Catedral de la Inmaculada, with its iconic sky-blue domes, is easily recognizable as it dominates the whole plaza. El Sagrario, on the other hand, is dubbed as the Old Cathedral. It is found on the opposite side of the plaza.
Museo de las Culturas Aborigenes. Located on Calle Larga, this museum features an extensive collection of more than 5,000 archaeological pieces dating back to approximately 15,000 years ago. Explore the museo’s halls and get to know more than 20 pre-Hispanic cultures that used to call Ecuador home.
History and architecture buffs should also check out Santo Domingo Church and the Carmelite Monastery.
Café Eucalyptus. Housed in a restored colonial house, this restaurant has been hailed as one of the best dining institutions in Cuenca. Café Eucalyptus is known for its wide array of gastronomic selections, from classic European cuisine to exotic eastern flavors. If you’re an experienced world traveler, Eucalyptus’ menu will suit your international palate.
Casa del Sombrero Alberto Pulla. In Tarqui, you’ll find the shop of Alberto Pulla, Cuenca’s most famous hatter. He may have passed away, but his legacy as a fine hatter lives on.
This is only a sampling of attractions and places to shop and dine in the city. For more options on things to do in and around the area, check out the Activities page.