The Architecture of Cuenca

Though the original inhabitation of Cuenca dates back to over 8,000 BC, the oldest ruins seem to be Pumapungo, the city established by Tupac Yupanqui.

After the Spanish conquest the name was changed to Santa Ana de los cuatro ríos de Cuenca, and it became part of the Spanish Colonial Empire. The oldest churches and monasteries date to the late 1500s, but most of the restored historic buildings in the World Heritage Site seem to be from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Reika and I spent much of our days just wandering the old city at random, sometimes along the Rio Tomebamba which runs through the center of the town and other times hunting for vegetarian restaurants. The one called “Nector” was the best of them all, and it was in one of the oldest buildings, too.

After the buildings,the “mercados” or markets, were the most interesting places we found to visit. We went to several in the main city, and on Sunday, when most of the ones inCuenca were closed, we took a local bus for an hours ride to Gualaceo to visit a different market, this one seemed to specialize in “cuy”,or guinea pigs impaled on thick posts and grilled over coals. Raw chocolate is another specialty of the region, and we found several stalls selling it to make hot chocolate.

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