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Azuay Province
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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 at 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.

According to studies and archeological discoveries, the origins of the first inhabitants go back to the year 8060 BC in the Cave of Chopsi. They were hunters, hunting everything the Paramo offered them, and nomadic, following the animals and seasons.The culture is represented by tools such as arrows and spears, which have been found throughout the Andean alley.The culture was most present about 5585 BC.Later the early indigenous people used the stable climate, fertile soil and abundant water to develop agriculture.They grew potatoes, melloco, chocho, squash and quinoa. They also domesticated animals such as cuys, and camelids: llamas and alpacas.

Their technology also advanced; they started creating ceramics.These comprise the greatest number of artifacts which archeologists use to study their culture.The period from 5000 BCE to 2000 BCE is not represented well in the archeological record.Beginning around 2000 BCE, the people developed a more highly organized society, demonstrating delegated responsibilities, such as the managing of water and control of plagues.People specialized as administrative and religious authorities (known as shamans).This occurred during the periods of Chaullabamba, Huayco, Pirincay, Monjas, Putushio, Huancarcucho and Jubones.From then until 500 AD began the periods of Tacalshapa III and the Canari people, who were absorbed into the Incas in the 15th century.

As per the last census, the population of the Cuenca canton was 417,632 inhabitants, of which 267,000 constitute the urban population (i.e., the population of the city proper).The economic development is based on industry and agricultural development. Cuenca has a long lasting reputation for being a university city.It hosts two universities, the oldest and best known one being University of Cuenca (Universidad de Cuenca), a public university with about 12,000 students.

How to Reach

By Air

The airport, named Aeropuerto Mariscal Lamar (Mariscal Lamar Airport), is located due east of the Terminal Terrestre (bus station) on Avenida Espana.It's a 5-minute walk from the bus station.Three airlines serve Cuenca in 2011; TAME and AeroGal fly to Quito and Guayaquil daily while LAN Ecuador only flies to Quito.RYU Peruvian airline Star Peru announced that it will begin flying to and from Chiclayo, Peru in November 2010; however operations have not started yet.

By Bus

Cuenca's inter-provincial bus station, called the Terminal Terrestre as it is in most cities, is well organized and clean.It is located on Avenida Espana in the northeastern corner of the city, a twenty-minute walk or a brief taxi ride from the historic center.Also, many City buses provide frequent service as indicated by the "Terminal Terrestre" placard on the windshield.Buses arrive and depart throughout the day.Service is available to major cities, such as Guayaquil and Quito and also to nearby cities such as Loja, Riobamba, or Machala.The distance to Guayaquil is 243 km and the bus takes nearly 4 hours on the highway Duran-Pto.Inca-Molleturo, a scenic ride through the Cajas National Park.Quito is 497 km from Cuenca and the trip takes around 10 hours on the Road Pan-American South.Many prefer to travel by bus at night.Those who choose to travel overnight should exercise caution due to reported bus hijacks which have resulted in armed robbery.

Key places to visit
New Cathedral of Cuenca, Cajas National Park, Banos, Iglesia de El Sagrario, Pamapungo Vestiges


Places to Visit

New Cathedral of Cuenca

Is the cathedral church in Cuenca, Ecuador.The cathedral is located in front of Parque Calderon.The project of the cathedral was drawn by Juan Bautista Stiehle on suggestions made by Bishop Leon Garrido.The cathedral took over the function of the nearby Old Cathedral that had become too small. Construction works started in 1885 and lasted for almost a century.This building combines many architecture styles, nevertheless romanesque is predominant.The cathedral is surmounted by three giant domes covered by sky-blue glazed tile from Czechoslovakia.

Cajas National Park

Is a national park in the highlands of Ecuador.It is located about 30 km west from Cuenca, the capital of the province of Azuay. The area of 285.44 km2 between 3100m and 4450m above sea level offers a tundra vegetation on a jagged landscape of hills and valleys.It was declared a National Park on November 5, 1996.The climate shows an average temperature of 13.2 °C and an average annual precipitation of 1,072 mm.Clouds typically drift up from the Pacific coast and from the Paute river basin (near Cuenca) and bring humidity.The El Cajas National Park is home to a large variety of animals, some of which are endemic or highly endangered.


A beautiful spot just outside of Cuenca with large lakes for fishing.This is not to be confused with the Banos further north which is the entrance to the Rainforest.There are thermal baths ($5.50) available at a hotel complex which includes a few hot pool at 36C and turkish baths.Many people can come here to relax in hot saunas,swim in the hot or cold waters of the pools, and relax with family and friends.

Iglesia de El Sagrario

It was built in 1557, but soon was too small for the faithful of the town.In 1880,they decided to build a temple to replace it.At the present time, the old cathedral is in process of restoration. It is no longer consecrated and is operated as a museum.

Pamapungo Vestiges

Located in Barranco, the Pumapungo barrio is the original site of the Incas (In Ecuador) in what was called Tumipamba.The architecture indicates the vestiges were primarily a religious, political and military administrative center There is a large channel funning over 1,000 feet surrounded by terraces.

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