Cuenca, Ecuador

General Information

Regional secretariat

None

Administrative status

Capital of the province of Azuay

Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca

Registration Year

1999

Historical function

Illustrates the implantation of the principles of urban planning of the Renaissance in the Americas and the fusion of the different societies and cultures of Latin America

Location and site

Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca is set in a valley surrounded by the Andean mountains in the south of Ecuador. This inland colonial town (entroterra), now the country’s third city, was founded in 1557 on the rigorous planning guidelines issued 30 years earlier by the Spanish king Charles V. Cuenca still observes the formal orthogonal town plan that it has respected for 400 years. One of the region’s agricultural and administrative centres, it has been a melting pot for local and immigrant populations. Cuenca’s architecture, much of which dates from the 18th century, was ‘modernized’ in the economic prosperity of the 19th century as the city became a major exporter of quinine, straw hats and other products.

Urban morphology and Historical reference

Located in the heart of the Andean mountains, the town of Cuenca is entrenched in a valley irrigated by four rivers: Tomebamba, Yanuncay, Tarqui and Machangara. This location has over a long period of time favoured close contact with the natural environment. The Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca includes the territory that was occupied by the town of Cuenca until the first half of the 20th century, as well as the archaeological site of Pumapungo and the corridors that include the ancient access routes to the town.

The Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca is a remarkable example of a planned inland Spanish town (entroterra) that bears witness to the interest given to the principles of Renaissance urban planning in the Americas.  Founded in 1577 according to the guidelines issued thirty years earlier by the King of Spain, Charles V, it has preserved over four centuries its original orthogonal plan.

An Indian community was in existence at the time of the arrival of the Spanish, (Inca-Canari); from this time on the character of the town of Cuenca was determined.  The urban layout and the townscape of its historic centre, corresponding to colonial towns located in the interior of the land with an agricultural vocation, clearly bears witness to the successful fusion of the different societies and cultures of Latin America.

The urban fabric of the Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Rios de Cuenca comprises a system of parks, squares, atriums, churches and other public spaces. Around the Plaza Mayor (Park Abdon Calderon), the three powers of society are always present: political with the town hall and the Governor’s Office, religious, with its two cathedrals opposite one another and the judiciary with the Law Courts.  Its paved streets are wide and sunlit. Moreover, the simple colonial houses have often been transformed into more important residences, especially during the period of relative economic expansion due to the production and exportation of quinine and straw hats (19th century). This resulted in a specific architecture that integrated the diverse local and European influences.

Registration criteria

Criterion (ii): Cuenca illustrates the perfect implantation of the principles of urban planning of the Renaissance in the Americas.

Criterion (iv): The successful fusion of the different societies and cultures of Latin America is symbolized in a striking manner by the layout and townscape of Cuenca.

Criterion (v): Cuenca is an outstanding example of a planned inland Spanish colonial town.

Photos

News


Contact

Sr. Ing. Pedro Palacios Ullauri

Alcalde de Cuenca
Gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado Municipal del cantón Cuenca - Ecuador

Edificio de la Alcaldía, Bolívar 7-67 y Borrero, Primer Piso Alto
Cuenca, Ecuador
1010202

+ (593-7) 4134900

Sra. Ana Paulina Crespo

Directora de Relaciones Internacionales y Cooperación
Gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado Municipal del cantón Cuenca - Ecuador

Edificio de la Alcaldía de Cuenca, Bolívar y Borrero (6to piso)
Cuenca, Ecuador
1010202

+ (593-7) 2824-846
acrespo@cuenca.gob.ec

Sr. Pablo Barzallo Alvarado

Director de Áreas Históricas y Patrimoniales
Gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado Municipal del cantón Cuenca - Ecuador

Pasaje León, Presidente Córdova 10-79 entre General Torres y Padre Aguirre
Cuenca, Ecuador
1010202

4134900 ext. 2212
pbarzallo@hotmail.com