Posted by: pennyinparadise | August 24, 2008

Cuenca The City

Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Spanish colonial city. This means the city’s ancient buildings are meticulously maintained. The ceramic maps shown below are found all throughout the city, giving you guidance as you wander the charming, European type streets.

Here’s a broad view of the city (from my terrace)…the colonial area is at to far end, near the mountains.

The city’s motto is “Cuenca….Ecuador’s Cleanest City” and clean it is…..streetsweepers, gardeners and trash collection is performed 7 days a week. Here are some streets in the colonial city

Cuenca has three rivers running right through the central city (see one of them below)….they all merge just at the edge of the city into one major river that flows out to the Pacific.

These rivers are not just beautiful….they are used by the locals for many thing. For example, you will see people walking their cows to the riverbanks to graze. It is not unusual to see them grazing next to a river fronted by a residential street.

These rivers are right downtown….as I stepped out of a cab at the Sushi restaurant on the river, I saw this young man casting his net in the river in hopes of a trout dinner catch.

Immediately across from this guy fishing in the river, are the “hanging houses” of Cuenca. These separate the colonial city (which is built on higher elevation) from the modern city. These houses are lit from below at night and are a beautiful sight to see. (Photos courtesy of Leslie Aldredge)

There’s an ancient bridge that generations past used to walk from the upper colonial city to the lower modern city. On weekends, artists display their works under the arches of this bridge.

The city is beautifully maintained, and I wander the streets, endlessly finding charming plazas beside big cathedrals with statues or fountains in the center. Notice the man in the blue uniform in the center of the photo below….this is the uniform of a streetsweeper. Gardeners wear green uniforms and are seen everywhere, keeping the plazas and boulevards neatly trimmed….as I said above, 7 days a week.

Even the small towns outside the city have beautiful little plazas for strolling or sitting.

Cuenca is the proud home of 1996 Altanta Olympic gold medal winner Jefferson Perez (race walker), who has just won the silver medal at the 2008 Bejing Olympics. Perez is a national hero and the residents of Cuenca have caught the walking bug…..there are people walking along the river banks and in parks all over the city. Below is the grassy infield of a central city oval track that I came upon one day on my excursion. I couldn’t help but hear the dogs saying to their human friends “OK now…get on your walking shoes and I’ll take you to the park….and I’ll just wait here with my buddies until you’re through”


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