Currently known as the city of artists and writers, its long history dates as far back as the year 8060 BC where there have been discoveries of remnants of the first inhabitants dating to that year. Because of this history, two of my favorite places on our last visit were the Museum of the Aboriginal Cultures and the House of the Ecuadorian Culture.
Cuenca is a high city, perched 2,350 to 2,550 meters above sea level in various parts. For perspective, Denver, Colorado known as the Mile-High City is 1,609 meters. That is a difference of 941 meters. As such, it sits in the highlands of the Ecuador, surrounded by mountains on all sides. There are passages through on three sides.
Set in this valley, the temperatures are moderate with a an low of 49.7 F in the winter. Four rivers converge in the city: Tomebamba (named after the Inca culture), Yanuncay, Tarqui and Machangara leading to the Amazon watershed.
The founding of the city was on April 12, 1557 under guidelines set forth by Charles V, the King of Spain at the time. According to the UNESCO site “is a remarkable example of a planned inland Spanish town (entroterra) that bears witness to the interest given to the principles of Renaissance urban planning in the Americas…The urban fabric of the Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca comprises a system of parks, squares, atriums, churches and other public spaces.” This settlement of Cuenca was named for Cuenca, Spain.
From Cuenca to Quito, it is approximately nine hours (55 minutes by air), but Guayaquil is an easy four hours.