Ecuador’s most attractive colonial city, “Santa Ana de los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca” was founded in 1557 and is a beautiful UNESCO world heritage site. Historic white-washed churches sit alongside mansions and charming townhouses while hand-carved balconies overlook the cobbled streets and leafy plazas.
Dating back 1500 years, Cuenca was built on the ashes of Tomebamba, a magnificent Inca regional capital to rival the likes of Cusco in Peru. At the heart of the Inca town, legend has it that the Pumapungo Temple of the Sun glistened with gold in the afternoon sun, a story that set off many conquistadors in search of the mythical golden city of El Dorado.
Today, Cuenca is a bustling tourist capital awash with charming bars, restaurants and galleries. The beautiful colonial architecture has generated a rich heritage in art and literature and the city is even the birthplace of the Panama hat. Further afield, Cuenca is gateway to Ecuador’s southern Sierra and ringed with spectacular landscapes such as the magnificent lakes and grassland paramo of Cajas National Park to the west.