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World Heritage Site

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Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca

Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca

The Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca with its cobblestone streets, towering cathedrals, and marble and whitewashed buildings has a distinctive colonial air.

The town is laid out according to a strict grid. It is located in the Andean highlands at about 2500m (8200 ft) above sea level. Cuenca is now the third largest city in Ecuador.

Notable monuments include:

- New Cathedral

- Old Cathedral

- Carmelite Monastery

- Church of Santo Domingo.

Map of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

Randi Thomsen & Svein Heltberg, Norway 27.02.15

Easter 2014 we visited Santa Ana de Los rios de Cuenca (or Cuenca), the third biggest city, on a "round trip" in Ecuador, visiting Quito, Baños de Aqua Santa (or plain Baños), Cuenca and last but not least Galapagos. Traveling "avenida del volcanos" down south was great and the cities are exquisite. A hired car and driver gives a tremendous "freedom" on the road.

We started our Cuenca-visit in fact before we entered the city with a visit to Ecuador's greatest Inka-ruin, Ingapirca. It's far from as great as the more famous Peruvian Inka-sites, but it's a "must-see" here. The local guide (it's mandatory) filled us in with a lot of interesting details of the "symbiosis" of Inkas and the more local Cañari.

In Cuenca we connected with a Norwegian guide (Anne, who lives there and has been living there for 25 years) and that gave us first hand en effective insight to the city, it's history, culture, architecture, special buildings, it's people and of all Ecuador.

In Cuenca round the main square, plaza Calderon, lies the town hall and the old and the great new cathedral. At the platform between the two the towers of the new cathedral it's a fabulous view. The church has room for 10,000 people.

We pass through the flower market on our way to the Carmelite monastery where we just had to shop just to experience their odd way of customer-handling by not showing themselves!

Passing through more markets we bought lama sweaters and blankets, also a "must do".

The Panama hat has its origin here (and not in Panama). All workers at the Panama Canal wore such hats, and through plenty of pictures of the workers with their hats in papers round the world at the time the hats got the nickname "Panama hats", but it is the local Cuenca-indians who weave the strawhats and deliver the "raw hats" to the hat factory which do the blocking and finishing. Of course we had to obtain one.

An interesting building was the "Dove house", a building that through restoration it was unveiled that most of the walls had great dove wallpaintings from the 17th century.

A last "must do" was to have the local speciality for lunch, a guinea pig! It had to be pre-ordered because of preparing time, but it's really worth it! A crispy meat meal with tamale and other local side dishes. A fabulous meal!

Our guide took us by car to the local surroundings, the four rivers, the oldest environment (the Barracanos), the local "Baños" (or bath) and the view of Mirador del Turi.

After two days in Cuenca (and 9 days in the Andes) we depart for lower ground, Guayanquil and Galapagos.

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Site Info

Full name: Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca

Unesco ID: 863

Inscribed: 1999

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   4   5  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 1999 - Inscribed 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca