Cuenca: my destination
At Mansion Alcazar we are proud to have as our home the beautiful city of Cuenca. Our city and Ecuador are together a superb Tourism Destination which, along with our stately Boutique Hotel, will make of your voyage an unforgettable experience.
A wonder amidst the andean mountains of Ecuador
Located in the southern part of Ecuador’s Andean Cordillera, Cuenca is the third largest city, after Quito and Guayaquil. In 1999, UNESCO officially declared the city as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Its masterful combination of art, culture, patrimonial architecture and the spectacular natural surroundings that cradle the city, make of Cuenca a place to fall in love with.
The twelve “must visit” sites in Cuenca and surroundings.
Following we detail the most relevant features of each one of these locations:
1- Parque Calderón or plaza principal (main square) and the Cathedrals
Cúpulas Catedral Nueva. CC. En el Flickr de lobitadelsur.
This is the actual heart of the colonial city, a green oasis with its trees and gardens that serve as the ideal centerpiece for emblematic buildings like the Old and New Cathedral. The New Cathedral is a really monumental construction not only of the Square and the city but also of Ecuador and Latin America. Built in 1885, it is famous for its three superb Renaissance-style giant domes, covered with amazing bluish-purple tiles of Czech origin, visible from most of the city and surroundings, becoming even more spectacular with the nocturnal illumination. At the other side of the Square is the historic Old Cathedral, built instead with rock material from the old Inca city of Tomebamba.
2- Plaza de las Flores (Cuenca Flower Market):
Located in the heart of Cuenca’s Historic Center, at one side of the majestic New Cathedral and adjoining the colonial Church and Convent of El Carmen de la Asunción, the iconic Flower Market of Cuenca was considered in an article about outdoor flower markets by the world-prestigious National Geographic Magazine in the summit of the “Top Ten” Best Flower Markets of the world. This charming space is filled with the dazzling natural colors of hundreds of giant roses, orchids, jasmines,lilies, carnations and many more flowers, along with the genuine sympathy of the lady vendors. Certainly this lovely plaza is a “must see” location in Cuenca.
3- Pumapungo Museum and Archeological Park
Parque Arqueológico de Pumapungo. CC. En el Flickr de lobitadelsur.
Located one next to the other, these are the two most relevant archaeological sites within the city of Cuenca, a true “must see” for visitors, especially those who love ancient history. The Archaeological Park makes you travel back centuries in time, to appreciate the ruins of the antique Inca city of Tomebamba, administrative seat of the Northern Inca Empire. The adjoining Museum, meanwhile, recreates the large patrimonial richness of the Pre-Hispanic cultures such as the Cañari and Inca that inhabited this area many centuries ago.
4- Museum of the Aboriginal Cultures
This interesting Museum, revives through its near 5.000 pieces, the history of the aboriginal cultures that inhabited the present-day territory of Ecuador throughout more than 10.000 years of history, from the Paleoindian period to the Inca epoch. Among the most interesting pieces are the funerary urns from the millenary coastal culture of La Tolita, as well as ornaments in bone and horn from the Cañari culture that inhabited in today’s Cuenca and surroundings. The shop next to the Museum offers replicas in ceramic and silver of several of the pieces exhibited here as well as books about the aboriginal cultures of Ecuador.
5- Las Conceptas Museum of Religious Art
Museo Las Conceptas. Foto Municipio de Loja.
This Museum is located in the installations which served as the Infirmary on the old Monastery of the nuns of La Concepcion, known as “las Conceptas”. Along with the architecture of its patios and galleries, it features fantastic collections of religious art and objects of the daily life of this religious order, including a curious collection of toys and traditional figurines that belonged to some of the sisters who lived in the convent since its foundation in 1599.
6 -El Barranco
Barranco. CC. En el Flickr de Maurizio Costanzo – mavik2007.
One of the patrimonial jewels of the city is the space that surrounds the iconic Tomebamba River, between El Vado and the Todos Santos descent, El Barranco (meaning “the Cliff”) is a lovely natural alley of weeping willows and other trees, with antique bridges and picturesque homes and buildings of colonial architecture which descend towards the River shores through cobble or raw stone stairways. Here we find “El Puente Roto” (the broken bridge), the descents of el Padron and el Centenario; the Mother’s Park, the Todos Santos Archaeological Park and the famous Plaza Cruz del Vado, a lovely balcony from where one can admire the lower and modern part of the city of Cuenca.
7- La Calle Larga
Calle Larga. CC. En el Flickr de Dogymho.
Meaning “the Long Street” this avenue follows from above the northern corridor of the Tomebamba River, from Tarqui Street to the Huayna Capac Avenue, covering around one and a half kilometers. This lively street has a rich cultural offer that includes the Pumapungo Archaeological Museum and Site, the Museum of the Aboriginal Cultures, the Remigio Crespo Toral Museum and the Museum of the iconic Straw Hat, otherwise yet wrongly known, as “panama hats”, a traditional hand-woven art and craft original from Cuenca and its surrounding villages as well as the central coast of Ecuador. The day and night vibrant Calle Larga, is also the epicenter to Cuenca’s best entertainment, boasting a good number of popular bars and restaurants of the city.
8- El Mirador de Turi
Iglesia de Turi. CC. En el Flickr de Pablo A. Araujo G.
On the southern tip and just 4 kilometers away from Cuenca’s Historic Center, this is a delightful Mirador or Lookout Point, a beautiful natural terrace located over a small hill in the Parish of Turi, from where you can get the most complete and fantastic panoramic views of practically the entire city and its spectacular Andean landscapes around. Here you also find a pretty church built in 1930, the Grotto of our Lord of El Belen and numerous handicraft shops.
9- Parish And Village Of Baños (“Baths”)
Located 8 kilometers to the south of Cuenca, this is yet another popular tourist attraction of the area. It is famous due to its natural thermal water springs that bear mineral properties. Even though the village is small, it certainly has numerous hostels, health resorts and spas that include thermal pools, Turkish baths and saunas. The town also has abundant and varied restaurants that offer delightful local and national typical gastronomy.
10- El Cajas National Park
Parque Nacional Cajas. CC. En el Flickr de notafish.
Located just thirty minutes west of Cuenca, El Cajas National Park is one of the most fascinating places for nature lovers, with its 28.500 hectares that host idyllic sceneries where awesome landscapes of moorlands and rocky mountainous summits of curious shapes, part of Ecuador’s Western Andean Cordillera, inevitably leave visitors breathless among such stunning beauty. The highlight of the National Park is made of the 232 lagoons and lakes of a glaciation period origin and disperse amongst small highland valleys and plateaus, together with an extremely rich biodiversity of native flora and fauna that includes white-tail deer, spectacled Andean bears, pumas, moorland rabbits, Andean tapir, condors, hummingbirds and Andean toucans.
11– Inca Ruins of Ingapirca
Ruinas de Ingapirca. CC. En el Flickr de Theodore Scott.
Located 80 kilometers north of Cuenca and a near one hour car ride over an excellent road takes you to Ingapirca, Ecuador’s most important Archaeological Site, formed by an intricate complex of Inca edifications and constructions that had been used mainly as a place of worship to the Sun God, built more than 500 years ago, over one yet more antique settlement of the Cañari indigenous culture. The centerpiece of the Complex is the impressive Temple of the Sun, an amazing structure of hundreds of perfectly same-size rectangular stones, superbly overlapped on one another and displayed over an elliptical plant of 37,10 meters long. An ensemble of stairways, foundations and labyrinths of walls and old structures stand against the greenery of the surrounding landscapes, which complements this extraordinary natural and historic stage that certainly leaves all visitors in awe.
12– Gualaceo and Chordeleg
Forty minuts east of Cuenca over a paved road bring you to the picturesque towns of Gualaceo and Chordeleg, recognized as some of Ecuador’s top quality artisanal centers, where all the manual skills of the local people of the zone, especially the women, can be admired and of course purchased directly from the hands of the creators of these articles. Gualaceo, surrounded by the lovely Santa Barbara River, is a superb center for the finest quality woven and embroidery articles, including dresses, blouses, shawls and the ancestral “macanas”, most of them hand-woven with the antique Ikat techniques. Also in the area one can find the famous straw hats and high quality footwear. A short distance away is the quaint town of Chordeleg, Ecuador’s most bustling center of fine-quality jewelry, especially in silver, gold and other precious metals. Travelers can visit the goldsmith workshops and dozens of jewelry shops offer wonders in quality hand-made objects. Another very relevant handicraft of Chordeleg is the pottery that also reaches very high-quality levels. This is a most enjoyable and well worth day or even half-day excursion when visiting Cuenca.
Stories that will make you fall in love with your destination
More than 7 Churches
A walk through the historic center of Cuenca arouses curiosities and introduces one to the various Christian church architectures present in the city that conveys the presence of Christianity and welcomes all.
What to visit in Cuenca?
The city of Cuenca and its surroundings provide enchanting colonial architectures, archaeological sites and impressive nature reserves. A concierge can assist you accordingly.
A Romantic City
In choosing a destination to share that special moment or two, the city of Cuenca offers more attractive options for weekend getaways, weddings and special requests.
Reserve through our web site and you will receive a special welcome present.
BOOK YOUR ROOM TODAY
Reserve through our web site and you will receive a special welcome present.
BOOK YOUR ROOM TODAY
Bolivar Street 12-55 and Tarqui.
(+ 593) 7 282-3918 / 282-3889