A fundamental part of a city's identity comes from its myths and legends. A myth is an artistic recreation that lives in the imagination and creativity of its inhabitants. A legend consists of the creation of an event or story that goes along with the everyday life of the city and its inhabitants. Through the years, the Cuencanos have amused, scared and coexisted with many of these stories, some dating back to the colonial times.
The Enchanted Stone
This legend says that in the Working District there was a great stone that prevented the access to a remote part of the city, which was dark and marshy. This enchanted stone had the power to grant any wish; material objects, money, love, a job, goods or help with revenges. The stone did not speak with anybody and nobody spoke to it. They said that it had a memory and all information was stored inside. It also had the power to punish the children who were disobedient with their parents, thus gaining the especially naughty children.
The adults maintained this legend to control their children, but above all, to keep the children away from this spot, since it was a place used for lover encounters.
This Gargoyle is an imaginary creature that has taken the form of a small white dog. This animal appears when lovers have affairs and it scares them with a weeping, similar to one of a newborn baby. It is believed that you could catch this animal and manage to taint its forehead with black carbon; the foreheads of the people that caught this animal would also be tainted black.
The Headless Priest
In the popular neighborhood of San Roque, there roamed a headless figure which was dressed up as a priest. It roamed the streets late at night, scaring the people who were out at late hours, but in reality it was just somebody disguising himself to visit his lover in that district.
The Lamp of the Widow
This legend takes place in the neighborhood of El Vado. There was a feminine figure with a covered face which was supposedly haggard because of the light of the lamp breaking the darkness. It is said that she lived in an abandoned house, and just like the priest, she used this disguise to visit her lover in that neighborhood.
The Chained Dog
It is believed that this animal was a reincarnation of Satan. It was a very large and quick dog that God let escape from hell to follow and punish the priests having romantic getaways. This dog dragged a heavy chain that ignited sparks against the cobblestone streets along the streets of Cuenca, scaring very one during the night. It is said that when it howled, it meant that somebody was going to die that night.
From this legend comes the verse:
"the Owl screeches,
the Dog howls,
the Indian dies.
It seems unreal,
But it happens"
In this city there are also the world famous Witches. This image is also symbolized by the use of the brooms as a means of transportation. It is said that mothers back at that time went to the witches to have them frighten their male children who were cowards. The verse from this legend says:
"Do you believe in witches?" asked the man to his servant.
"No sir, because it is a sin, but they do exist"