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Cuenca, a Spot Rich in Incan History

Ecuador is known as the country of great contrasts where the historic past meets new developing cities. The country is also appreciated for its rich culture and the bio diversity that a traveler can find here is like no other. Once inhabited by tribes, then conquered by the Incas, and afterward one of the conquistadors' conquests, Ecuador is the owner of a rich history.

The city of Cuenca was once called Guapondeleg and was the land of Canaris, an old tribe that lived and thrived here. Their continuity on this land - that is nowadays attested to by the many ruins scattered all over the city - was interrupted by the Incas which cast the Canaris away toward the end of the 15th century. The Incan ruling was brought to an end when the Spanish conquistadors came here. The place was then called Santa Ana de Los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca, but over time the name was shortened to Cuenca. Nowadays, Cuenca is one of the most important cities in Ecuador.

The main reason why the city is considered such an attractive tourist destination is its colonial architecture. Everywhere you look you will notice a piece of history, whether you stroll through the grand plazas, view the impressive cathedrals, go museum hopping, just walk around on the cobblestone streets. The city was also declared an UNESCO heritage site about a decade ago in order to preserve its colonial beauty.

Cuenca not only shows a historical face to its guests, because the nightlife can be quite thrilling and tourists love to spend their nights in the many fine restaurants and great bars located around the city. The people are known for their love to party and for their passion for culture. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and one way to spend a great afternoon in town is to take your time and sip a cup of coffee while in Parque Calderon where many inhabitants also come to relax. Cuenca also has a very beautiful flower market, where you can admire or even purchase magnificent bouquets.

There are many sites to see in Cuenca. For instance, if you want to watch the panoramic view of the city you will need to climb up Turi Hill; but the trip is well worth it. From up on top you will be able to see the historic part of the city and the new one as well, spot Plaza Calderon and the impressive cathedral located there, the colorful markets, the Immaculate Conception Monastery, and the ruins once inhabited by old tribes.

If you travel out of the city you will find the Ingapirca ruins, which are considered the most important site in Ecuador. Take a walk to the national park of Cajasis, where you can see the polylepis trees. Trail walking is very popular here and you can trek down the routes of the old Incan while strolling through the park.

The weather is fine in Cuenca year round, and no matter when you choose to travel there you will not regret it.

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