CUENCA, IDEAL DESTINATION To visit Cuenca is a constant journey of discovery. Finding corners where time seems to have stopped, or notice between modern and traditional contrast among streets, squares and parks, is incomparable. To immerse oneself in the life beat at every step in the city is a delight for all five senses: admire the surprisingly colors of the cholas with their flowers and fruits in the markets; listen to the happy bustle of the waters in the rivers; perceive the delicate wood aroma of freshly baked bread; savor the typical delights of yesteryear that are still sold in stores and feel the fresh breeze of spring weather. Cuenca is a Cultural Heritage of Humanity because it is unique, not only in terms of architectural beauty, but also its richness in tangible and intangible cultural assets. In fact, its Historical Center is one of the best preserved ones in South America. Its fully walkable distances allow visitors to experience many of the attractions concentrated in the area. Visitors notice the charming details that make this city a destination with great personality: buildings of colonial or neoclassical style; artisan workshops that seem detained in time; a flower market considered the best in the world in its kind; picturesque squares that adorn spaces where nature bursts into the heart of the city. Being irrigated by four rivers, the city presents a very peculiar landscape beauty. One of its special places is the side pass of the Tomebama River, which crosses the city from west to east in a ravine where the architecture fuses harmoniously with nature, thus forming an extremely magical landscape. On top of that, visitors can also find archaeological remains of the pre-Columbian inhabitants who settled in these territories and whose imprint has significantly contributed to the mestizo culture of Cuenca. NATURE AND ADVENTURE In addition to the wide range of possibilities in terms of cultural spaces that Cuenca offers, there are multiple options to enjoy nature at it’s fullest. Within a few kilometers from the city, it is possible to find cold mountain zones, mountain forests and subtropical valleys, where charming villages of markets and handicrafts are located. Among the natural attractions, the Cajas National Park, located 30 km west of Cuenca, stands out. This protected area is a lacustrine system of glacial origin constituted by more than 230 lagoons and ecosystems such as Sub-Alpine Rainforest and Alpine Floor. In 2013, UNESCO recognized this site, and the entire Cajas, as a World Biosphere Reserve. In addition, the RAMSAR convention for the protection of wetlands has placed Cajas National Park on its list of special conservation sites. Foto: Shutterstock On the other hand, the surroundings of Cuenca are ideal for those who like adventure, all kinds of extreme sports with beautiful Andean landscapes as a backdrop can be enjoyed. Cycling in the mountains and forests, horseback riding under the moonlight, or climbing rock walls of a sacred hill are experiences that can become unforgettable and are the perfect complement to the experience of visiting a city catalogued as a “Cultural Patrimony of Humanity”. Those who prefer total relaxation and to pamper their body and mind with renewal energy, can choose to relax in the delicious hot springs that flow from a volcanic fault located a few minutes away from the city center, at Baños. A CITY OF CONTRASTS AND TRADITIONS Cuenca is a city of contrasts extremely attractive for visitors. There is a harmonious fusion of indigenous and European culture, which is reflected in architecture, crafts and gastronomy. In addition, history combines with modernity in an interesting outcome of patrimonial sites, traditional festivities, local gastronomy, but also a splendid nightlife, modern art galleries, gourmet and international cuisine, etc. Cuenca is a city where culture is alive, because human aspects turn out to be the most important attribute. The majority of traditions of yesteryear are still preserved in terms of festivities and artistic manifestations, but new proposals are also present in which citizens and their visitors can take an active part. A good example are events such as international performing arts festivals, international film festivals, International Art Biennial, etc. Because of this and much more, Cuenca is the perfect destination to enjoy everything that Ecuador represents: ancestral culture, heritage architecture, diverse nature, majestic landscapes and above all, friendly people that loves its traditions, and are always ready to offer visitors an unforgettable experience.