Gualaceo, green and peaceful
Gualaceo lies in a fertile valley at an elevation of 2300 meters and is surrounded by amazingly green mountains where rivers are flowing peacefully among rich vegetation. It is also known as the garden of Azuay. There is a wonderful Orchid Garden which I think is private but can be visited. It is a small town totally full of traditional features. It has kept some colonial architectural elements as well as some typical ecuadorian characteristics. There are plenty of artefacts, furniture, panama hats, shoes and clothes. If you get hungry you can taste the local dishes . A good place to eat is the central market which is clean and tidy! Try the famous tortillas and the roasted pork. Don't forget to ask for its crispy mouth watering skin called “cascarita”. Its delicious!!! It is also known for the best fruit and vegetable quality. Every Saturday and Sunday there is an open market in the central square.
In March the Peach Festival (Fiesta de Durazno) gives locals a chance to celebrate with street parties and peach-tasting.
It's advisable to rent a motorbike to ride along the banks of Gualaceo river and around the narrow streets with the old colonial houses. The view from the river wooden bridges is unforgettable!
Parador Turistico is a nice place to breathe fresh air in the mild pleasant climate of the town
Spaniards were in Gualaceo even before they were in Cuenca.
Go by bus or taxi (2$US) to the Bus station and then take a bus for an hour ride to Gualaceo or any other bus going that way. Ask at the station. Buses to Gualaceo run every hour.
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This place has all-day breakfast as well as international and German specials for lunch or dinner. Also is a mellow place to get some drinks and they have 2 for 1 specials each day of the business week.
Good service and large, warm interior with lots of windows, magazines and papers (in Spanish and German). Real coffee in different forms (tinto, con leche, eiskaffe - iced coffee with vanilla ice cream), hearty banana pancakes, great homemade bread and jam etc.
San Sebastian Square
San Sebastian church sits in a peaceful little square where its beautiful tower is the prevailing view. The square was built in the 17th century as an open market marking the western limit of the historical center of the city. The church is one of the oldest churches in town. It has a nice carved door on its side. It was on this square that a notorious murder was committed when a member of the French Geodesic Expedition, who had come to measure the Equator, was murdered over his love affair with a local woman.
On the southern side of the square is the Museum of Modern Art.
Museum of Central Bank (Pumapungo)
This is the most polished and interesting museum with excellently presented exhibitions in its four rooms. It depicts the historical itinerary of the people of the region. And manages to give a picture of the true identity of the inhabitants, who are a multi ethnic and multicultural society. They had been here many years before the Europeans arrived and had mingled with the Incas and people coming from Africa. It contains beautiful Inca artifacts, jewellery and ritualistic objects. There is also a collection of the 19th cent. Paintings are mostly religious but also depicting scenes from indigenous life. On the first floor, the National Ethnographic hall illustrates the diversity of Ecuadorian indigenous cultures.
The Entrance to the Museum is 3$ but also includes a visit to the Inca ruins of Pumapungo at the enormous back yard. You can wander for hours in this place as it contains the most important Inca ruins of the city. The architectural elements shows that this was a religious, military political and administrative center. They include walls, stone corridors, a huge channel 300 meters long with internal bathrooms, a mausoleum and more, all surrounded by terraces, used for agriculture. It also contains the “Inca's Garden” with about 10000 plants of 400 species existing in the time of Incas, and the “Rescue and Transit Center for wild Avifauna” where rescued native birds live together. There is also a garden with vegetables cultivated by Incas, such as potatoes, quinoa, fruit trees, corn and medicinal plants. There are signs with the scientific name of each one. It was in this same place that many of the Inca exhibits of the museum were excavated.
Open Monday to Friday 9.00-18.00 Saturday 9.00-13.00
Click on the photo to see the ruins and garden...
Prohibido Centro Cultural
This is a very original place if you like extreme expressions of art. Actually it's an exhibition that works as a cafe-bar, too. You can call any time and have some drinks, talk to people, listen to music and have a look at the different details. There is painting, sculpture, tattoos, jewellery and clothes of the same style. It's the creation of the owner, Eduardo Moscoso, who has turned the place itself to an eccentric, paradoxical work of extreme art. The music is punk, rock and trash very suitable to the general style.
Mondays to Saturdays: 9 am to 10 pm
Sundays: 9 am to 6 pm
Eduardo, a smiling open-hearted person, is trying to bring an air of radical new way of thinking to the rather conservative society of Cuenca, and he's facing great opposition.
I liked him!
Good for young and crazy ..or those who have remained so...!
There is a similar place in Amsterdam...
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