Cuenca is made of clay, wrought iron, carved wood, and corners that surprise you with the beauty of a thousand details, finely finished, and with the creativity of its hard-working craftsmen. It is a city with charm, whose inhabitants permit their soul to reveal itself in order to transform that soul into an artistic piece.
It is our intention that all who participate in this craft route will capture in their own souls the subtle beauty of craft production by men and women who are heirs to an ancestral legacy. A return to their roots is essential in order to explore the essence of the human being behind the craftsperson, to become one with the fire of the forge, with the clay of the potter, with the metal transformed into subtle shapes, with the tireless hands that weave a life…
As we visit each of these spaces with our senses atuned, we will discover another reason why Cuenca is considered by many “the treasure of the Andes.
Visiting a museum is much more than walking around an informative space about culture and history. It is getting closer in a vivid way to one of the most important human expressions: admiring art in a way that allows us to see its real message; understanding crafts in its true human and cultural dimension; seeing history in such a way that we can revive it and learn from it.
This route offers the possibility to enjoy the above mentioned at the same time that we discover the scenic beauty of one of the most attractive routes in Cuenca: walking on the side of the Tomebamba River along its way through the center of the city.
Let’s learn a little bit more about our patrimony on this dynamic and fun ride!
All great stories of passion have common elements that allow them to take root in the subconscious of whomever approaches them: love, beauty, fervor, devotion. Just as the encounter between two persons, whose inescapable destiny is to fuse their lives beyond the limits of time and space, the history of the encounter between two cultures can also have overtones of passionate love, and this is the of the cases encounter between Cuenca and France.
We invite you to make a fascinating tour in which the origins and development of a relationship that marks the life of a city forever will be explored: Cuenca and France, bound together in the memory and architecture of a people who love their traditions and remembrances. Lets accompany them to discover the nuances that marked the first encounter between the two cultures, with the arrival in Cuenca of the First French Geodesic Mission at a time when the world was still a mystery to be revealed. Later we will decipher the reasons why more than a century later this relationship, marked by the changes of fortune of that first encounter became fruitful and renovating, completely changing the face of the until then colonial city of Cuenca.
The French route is more than a tour. It is a voyage in time and space to be part of a history full of experiences, anecdotes, beauty and tradition. It is knowing a little more of the essence of a city of great heritage riches, in the tangible as well as the intangible. Welcome!
To participate in this activity, please contact certified tour operators or request information at the ITUR offices.
1. Encalada pottery workshop 2. The Potter ceramic gallery 3. Tinware workshops 4. Corner of the Arts 5. Craft workshops mending toquilla straw and felt hats 6. Tarqui Street 7. The Women’s House, Cemuart 8. San Francisco Plaza 9. Santa Ana Plaza 10. Rotary Plaza 11. El Vergel Neighborhood, Las Herrerias Street 12. Eduardo Vega Workshop Gallery
- Cajas National Park
- Tarqui Mountain Forest
- Flora and fauna
- Extreme sports
- Walks and contemplation of nature
- Trips by bicycle
1. Horseback riding: One can ride horses in the Tarqui Mountain Forest area, where one can see native flora and fauna.
2. Rock climbing: One can climb either in Cajas National Park on one of the eight routes and four paths in the national park or in the Sayausi area.
Eleven marvelous churches where one can see architectural styles and religious art. Participation in programmed and itinerant celebrations: Holy Week, Corpus Christi in honor of the Blessed Sacrament (moveable dates, months: May or June). The Travelling Christ Child Procession (December 24th). Exhibitions and concerts related to religiosity.
1. San Sebastian Church
2. Santo Cenáculo Church
3. Santo Domingo Church
4. Carmen de la Asunción Church
5. San Francisco Church
6. La Inmaculada Concepción Cathedral
7. The “Old Cathedral” Religious Art Museum
8. San Alfonso Church
9. Monasterio de la Concepción Church
10. Complejo Patrimonial de Todos Santos
11. San Blas Church
Museum and Heritage Building Route
- Events of the International Biennial of the Arts
- Specialized libraries
- Heritage buildings
Enjoy visits to 19 sites including museums, cultural centers, and itinerant and permanent technical heritage exhibitions;
1. Casa De Las Posadas 2. Museo De Arte Moderno 3. Casa De La Fundación Bienal De Artes De Cuenca 4. Prohibido Centro Cultural 5. Museo Del Sombrero De Paja Toquilla 6. Galería De La Alcaldía De Cuenca 7. Edificio De La Corte Superior De Justicia 8. Museo De Identidad Cañari 9. Museo De Las Conceptas 10. CIDAP 11. Museo De Las Culturas Aborígenes 12. Museo De Arqueología Manuel Agustín Landivar 13. Museo Pumapungo 14. Casa De Chaguarchimbana 15. Centro Cultural Municipal Quinta Bolivar 16. Museo Remigio Crespo Toral 17. Museo de la Ciudad 18. Museo Catedral Vieja 19. Museo Municipal Casa del Sombrero
- Traditional gastronomy of the area
- Markets and plazas
- Parishes in the area surrounding Cuenca
- Sample traditional gourmet cooking
- Observe culinary processes
1. Visit to “El Pan de las Villacis” bakery where one can see the process of making typical products such as mistelas (liquor made from macerated fruit), kneaded cheese, toasted coffee beans, etc.
2. Visits to the following markets: 10 de Agosto, 27 de Febrero, 9 de Octobre and 3 de Noviembre, where one can see a wide variety of agricultural and culinary products offered there. One can sample beverages and traditional dishes of the region.
3. In the Batan sector, one can visit the Chocolate de Fatima factory where one can see the process of making craft dark chocolate.
4. Lunch at San Joaquin parish where one will find a selection of restaurants and sample traditional dishes: cecinas (grilled meat), mote pillo (corn kernels scrambled with egg), papas con cuero (potatoes with pork rind), locro de papas (potato soup).
5. Visit to the Flower Plaza: In addition to enjoying the profusion of color, at the entrance to the convent of the Carmelite nuns, one can purchase their delicious home-made products, such as: rompope, milk candy, table wine, traditional sweets, etc.
6. We have sweets and cookies made in traditional bakeries such as La Colmena and Royal.
7. Be sure to sample the Corpus Christi variety of traditional sweets, which one can find all year on the corner of San Blas Park and in the vicinity of the Conceptas Convent.
8. Visit the El Vergel neighborhood in Las Herrerias Street and/or San Roque to taste quimbolitos, tortillas, chumales, (varieties of steamed cakes made from corn) coffee, herb teas, chocolate, etc.
9. Visit “Don Bosco” Avenue where one can see the preparation of traditional foods: guinea pig and whole pig, toasted corn, llapingachos, (potato patties), etc.
Nature and Wellbeing Route
- Flora and Fauna
- Hot springs
- Visit two parishes in the surrounding area of Cuenca
- Massages and body treatments
- Nature walks
- Practice sports in parks
1. The River Bluff tour: In addition to seeing the interesting colonial, republican and modern architecture overlooking the river, one can enjoy the relaxing natural beauty of the banks of the Tomebamba River.
2. The Mothers’ Park: The park has been remodeled for the practice of sports and the functioning of the new planetarium.
3. El Paraiso (Paradise) Park: Here one can enjoy nature in all of its splendor without leaving the city.
4. Amaru Bio-Park Zoo: Amaru offers the opportunity to discover amazing animals, walk along natural paths and enjoy fresh air with one’s family.
5. Riverside parks: Places for recreation that have paths, sport courts, and recreational spaces ideal for relaxation.
6. Yanuncay River Bio-Corridor: The route begins from San Joaquin Parish for those who wish to enjoy nature, hot springs, hiking, traditional food, or bird watch, etc.
7. Baños Parish: The center for hot springs where different pools and spas have been installed.
Daily Life Tour
- Traditional dishes
- Parks and plazas
- Purchase traditional products
- Visit traditional places in the city of Cuenca
- Watch the practice of traditional medicine
1. Begin the day with sports in the Mothers’ Park and/or El Paraiso Park
2. Sample an invigorating beverage “Soda” at Central Pharmacy (Address: Bolivar and Benigno Malo).
3. Attend one of the Masses in the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception Monday to Saturday: 07:00, 09:00, 12:00, Sunday: 07:00, 09:30, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 20:00. Holy Hour, Monday to Friday 16:00 to 17:00.
4. Have your picture taken on a fake horse in Calderon Park.
5. Visit the Flower Plaza and sample the traditional “Aguita de Pitimas” (herbal infusion) and other homemade products prepared by the nuns of El Carmen de la Asuncion Monastery.
6. Cleansing by the traditional healers in the 10 de Agosto and 9 de Octubre markets (Tuesdays and Fridays).
7. Visit to bakeries with wood-fired ovens in the traditional Todosantos neighborhood.
8. Contemplate a beautiful panoramic view of the city from the Turi outlook.
Tour bus trips
Vanservice and Cotratudossa offer trips that go by the most important tour sites of the city of Cuenca with professional, bilingual guides (Spanish - English) on panoramic two-story buses.
For more details, schedules and prices, consult the following web pages:
Located in the parish of Turi in the south of Cuenca. From this point you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. To get there, you have to go to Fray Vicente Solano Avenue and take a bus to Turi, there is one every 20 minutes starting at 06h00; the cost of the bus ride is $0.25. If you prefer to take a taxi, the approximate cost from downtown is around $3.00 USD.
Santa Bárbara Route - Gualaceo
Canton located 36 kilometers East of Cuenca. It is recommended to visit it during the weekend when the markets are full of typical products of the area and traditional gastronomy. On the way to Gualaceo you can find the areas know as San Pedro de los Olivos and Bullcay, where there are workshops of ikat weaving (cloth made in looms), if you continue five minutes by bus, you can visit an the “Ecuagenera” orchid´s greenhouse.
If you go by private car, leave Cuenca by taking the Panamericana Norte Highway, or in its place the road until you reach “El Descanso” and then take this road to Gualaceo. If you take public transportation, you need to take the bus at the Bus Terminal. You can use Santiago de Gualaceo and Santa Barbara companies, with a frequency of 25 minutes starting at 05h00 until 21h00; the bus fare is $0.60.
Santa Bárbara Route - Sigsig
Canton located 60 kilometers Southeast of Cuenca. It has been declared as Urban Cultural Heritage of Ecuador for the great number of republican-style buildings found in its cantonal center. Its handcraft production is represented by the elaboration of straw hats and figures. Near Sigsig there are Paleo-Indian ruins represented by the Black Cave of Chobshi, it is believed it was inhabited about 11,000 years ago. Close by are the archeological ruins of Castillo del Cacique Duma and Shabalula. At the bus terminal in Cuenca you can take the bus from the Cenepa company to Sigsig. Buses leave as early as 05h00 until 19h00. The cost is $1.25.
Parish located 4 kilometers West from the city´s center. Here you can find basket crafts. It is an agricultural area of vegetable and flower crops where you can also enjoy typical food in several restaurants, especially the “cecinas” (grilled dry meat), “mote pillo” (hominy with scramble eggs) and “llapingachos” (small potato patty). To get to San Joaquín, you can take bus line 19 (Ciudadela Catolica- Tennis Club) on Presidente Cordova Street. The cost of a taxi from downtown is around $ 3.5 USD.