Architecturally speaking, Cuenca has evolved through history. The mixture of different cultures; Cañari, Inca and Spaniards has made this city unique. The colonial center of Cuenca is a true sample of architecture and is being preserved under the category of World Heritage Site. Since the foundation of the Spanish city, its architecture has been enriching little by little with the influence of several styles of architecture from Europe. By the year of 1778, the city consisted of 24 hectares, which was about 17 blocks.
Different historical architectural representations are visible in the construction of the new cathedral at the end of the Nineteenth Century and the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The ledge plays a fundamental part, providing a great view of the city.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of planning and knowledge during the Twentieth Century, many colonial constructions have been changed or demolished to raise new constructions instead, which have broken the harmony of the architecture of Cuenca.
Nowadays, the colonial center of Santa Ana of the 4 Rivers of Cuenca consists of 221 hectors.
Process of Nomination
For a city or a natural monument to be indexed by the UNESCO as world heritage, it requires a lot of effort to fulfill the rigorous standards of classification. In August 1996, the Mayor of the City of Cuenca, Mr. Fernando Cordero, was part of a commission for the management of the Declaration of the city as World Heritage Site, which was performed by national and local organizations. By the end of 1996, the Institute of National Patrimony and Cultural Patrimony yield to the Municipality of Cuenca the responsibility to carry out such management.During the month of April1997, National and International institutions joined the process of the management. The Management Committee learned about the regulations, processes, formats, information and actions needed for the candidacy. During this phase, meetings were held to talk about several key points, and valuable information was exchanged for the following phases. During the third phase of this process, the staff in charge of the elaboration of the official file for the candidacy completed it during the month of December 1998. This technical report was sent to the offices of UNESCO in Paris, France on June 30, 1998. Along with the report there was a sample of photographs of Cuenca, showing the great uniqueness and splendor Cuenca has to offer.Later, on July 7, 1998 the Examining Committee of World Heritage Sites of the UNESCO, with representatives from countries like Italy, Benin, Japan, Morocco and Cuba, met in the city of Paris. At the end of this meeting it was unanimously decided that the historical center of Cuenca had to be included on the list of World Heritage Sites. Finally, in the city of Marrakech in Morocco, on December 1, 1999 it was chosen as World Heritage Site by the 21 designated members of the XXIII Edition of the Committee and it was officially registered on December 4th. Criteria used in the selection of World Heritage SitesTo place Cuenca on the list of Cultural Sponsorship on behalf of the UNESCO was a very complex process. The reasons why Cuenca was chosen to have this privilege were carefully studied by the International Organization. The most relevant were: There has been four centuries of traditions and architecture in the city of Cuenca due to its different reigns, especially the Spanish Reign. From the point of view of city-planning, Cuenca is considered to be a very coherent and ordered city, keeping its European feel without leaving aside its Indian and racially mixed legacy as far as its architecture. The architecture of Cuenca has the characteristics of the Southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, but it has adapted materials used by the natives of the outlying mountains. Materials like adobe, straw, wood and clay were fundamental in the construction of the city. The finish works of the constructions have a great variety, contributing to the culture and personality of the city. These are the reasons for the architectonic importance of the city and its fragile inheritance and uniqueness that has to be shared at worldwide level as well as preserved.