Generalities of this destination
Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca is located on an interandean valley on Southern Ecuador (441 km south of Quito), at an elevation of 2.535 m.a.s.l. It enjoys a typically warm weather, with an average temperature of 17°C. Its population is of approximately 500.000 inhabitants and its surface area is of 15.730 hectares.
It was founded in 1557 under the command of the Viceroy of Peru, Mr. Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza. The peculiar features of its soil and the circumstances of later gradual miscegenation printed a unique idiosyncrasy on its inhabitants, who were carving and forging the actual Cuenca over the years: it is the economical and cultural center of a rich area of Ecuador, an Andean and tropical country at the same time, characterized by contrasts and wonders. Many years before, Cuenca was the Inca city of Tomebamba, considered homeland of Inca Huayna-Cápac, it was built over the place believed to be Guapondelig once, which was a city of the Cañari nation who inhabited the central area of present Ecuador.
Cuenca is also considered as the third city of the country, after Quito and Guayaquil, which are the cities where the political and economical powers of the country are settled. Its condition of average size city, almost Franciscan and still conventual in comparison with the former cities, is another factor that contributes to have each visitor promising to return or, even better, they decide to stay and live here, since the city has the latest technology concerning information and electronics, a good financial and banking system, cybercafés, bars, discotheques, modern hotel infrastructure, restaurants of all kinds, etc.
However, Cuenca is not limited to its historical center only, which is a collection of tangible as well as intangible heritage. The administrative subdivision of Ecuador causes each one of its 22 provinces to be composed by cantons, and these are subdivided into counties. From this perspective, Cuenca is the capital of the province of Azuay. As a canton it is subdivided into 14 urban counties and 21 rural counties, each one of them contributes to increase the splendor of the area providing elements of cultural, archaeological, historical and natural wealth and, therefore, elements of undeniable and inevitable tourist attraction for the most diverse interests.