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How to Book a Hotel in Cuenca
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Hotels of Cuenca
A hotel in Cuenca is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Cuenca hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Cuenca are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Cuenca hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Cuenca hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Cuenca have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Cuenca
An upscale full service hotel facility in Cuenca that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Cuenca hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Cuenca
Full service Cuenca hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Cuenca
Boutique hotels of Cuenca are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Cuenca boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Cuenca may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Cuenca
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Cuenca travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Cuenca focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Cuenca
Small to medium-sized Cuenca hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Cuenca traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Cuenca hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Cuenca
A bed and breakfast in Cuenca is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Cuenca bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Cuenca B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Cuenca
Cuenca hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Cuenca hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Cuenca
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Cuenca hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Cuenca lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Cuenca
Cuenca timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Cuenca often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Cuenca on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Cuenca
A Cuenca motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Cuenca for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Cuenca motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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The population total is of the urban parishes of the Municipality of Cuenca (the canton), which make up the city of Cuenca; the metro population is the population of the canton cuenca, areas urbanas of azogues , biblian and deleg in the cañar province. Gualaceo and Paute in the azuay province.
Official website (Spanish)
Cuenca City Hall in Bolivar Street
The city of Cuenca - in full, Santa Ana de los cuatro ríos de Cuenca - is the capital of the Azuay Province. It is widely regarded as the most European city in the country of Ecuador due to its highly 16th and 17th century era Spanish colonial architecture resembling to cities and architecture throughout Spain. The city of Cuenca is located in the highlands of Ecuador at about 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) above sea level, with an urban population of approximately 400,000 rising to 700,000 inhabitants in the larger metro area. The centre of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site due to its many historical buildings. Cuenca is well known for its stunning architecture, tourist attractions, hotels and night activities.
Cuenca, Ecuador: History
Cuenca, Ecuador: First inhabitants
According to studies and archeological discoveries, the origins of the first inhabitants go back to the year 8060 BC in the Cave of Chopsi. They were hunters, hunting everything the Páramo offered them, and nomads, following the animals and seasons. Their culture is represented by tools such as arrows and spears, which have been found throughout the Andean valley. The culture was most present about 5585 BC.
Later the early indigenous people used the stable climate, fertile soil and abundant water to develop agriculture. They grew potatoes, melloco, chocho, squash and quinoa. They also domesticated animals such as cuys, and camelids: llamas and alpacas.
Their technology was also advanced. For example, they started creating ceramics. In fact, ceramics constitute the greatest number of artifacts which archeologists use to study their culture. The period from 5000 BCE to 2000 BCE is not represented well in the archeological record. Beginning around 2000 BCE, the people developed a more highly organized society, demonstrating delegated responsibilities, such as the managing of water and control of plagues. People were specialized as administrative and religious authorities (known as shamans). This occurred during the periods of Chaullabamba, Huayco, Pirincay, Monjas, Putushio, Huancarcucho and Jubones. From then until 500 AD began the periods of Tacalshapa III and the Cañari people, who were absorbed into the Incas in the 15th century.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Pre-Columbian society
Cuenca was originally a Cañari settlement called Guapondeleg. Archeologists believe Cuenca was founded around 500 AD. Guapondeleg translates into "land as big as heaven." Less than half a century before the conquistadors landed, the Incas, after a bitter struggle, conquered the Cañari and occupied Guapondeleg and the surrounding area. Though the Incas replaced the Cañari architecture with their own, they did not suppress the Cañari or their impressive achievements in astronomy and agriculture. As was customary for the Incas, they absorbed useful achievements into their culture. They renamed the city Tomebamba. The city became known as the second Cusco, a regional capital.
After the defeat of the Cañari, the Inca commander, Tupac Yupanqui, ordered the construction of a grand city to be called Pumapungo, "the door of the Puma". Its magnificence was said to have rivaled that of the Inca capital of Cuzco. Indians told stories to the Spanish chroniclers of golden temples and other such wonders, but by the time the Spaniards found the legendary city, all that remained were ruins. They wondered what happened to the fabled splendor and riches of the second Inca capital. After having been abandoned by the Cañari and then the Incas, Tomebamba was sparsely populated until the 1550s.
Tomebamba is considered a candidate for the mythical city of gold which the Spanish called El Dorado. The Spanish thought El Dorado was burned by the inhabitants after they heard of the Spanish conquests. Tomebamba's destruction by its inhabitants prior to the arrival of the Spanish suggests it may have been what the Spanish called El Dorado.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Spanish settlement
The Spanish settlement of Cuenca was founded on April 12, 1557 by the explorer Gil Ramírez Dávalos. Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza, then Viceroy of Peru had commissioned the founding and ordered the city named after his home town of Cuenca, Spain. It was founded decades after other major Spanish settlements in the region, such as Quito (1534), Guayaquil (1538), and Loja (1548). Cuenca's population and importance grew steadily during the colonial era. It reached the peak of its importance in the first years of Ecuador's independence; Cuenca achieved its independence on November 3, 1820. It became the capital of one of the three provinces that made up the nascent republic. The other two capitals were Guayaquil and Quito.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Population
As per the last INEC estimate for 2015, the population of the Cuenca canton was 580,000 inhabitants, of which 400,000 constitute the urban population (i.e., the population of the city proper). The economic development is based on industry and agricultural development.
Cuenca Metropolitan Area includes the cities of Azogues, Biblian and Deleg in the cañar province and the cities of Paute and Gualaceo in the Azuay province with a population of 730,000 inhabitants, however, Cuenca's influence in the cultural, economic and educational areas extends to all the remaining cities 50 miles (80 kilometres) around.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Economy
Cuenca is a city known for its textile making, along with furniture and other crafts like hats and shoes. They also export many flowers to places such as the United States and countries in Europe. The hats that they are well known for making are straw hats. The tourism industry is big as well in addition with the main university there, “La Universidad de Cuenca”. Cuenca has many cathedrals there that are a part of the sightseeing as well as other national parks. For the future, Ecuador has been working on electrolytic hydrogen for use of better resources that are environmental friendly. With Cuenca located in the sierras of mountains and much forest area nearby, mining and logging are industries there. Some of the common mined resources are kaolin, plaster, limestone, sand, specialized rocks, and carbon. Also, Cuenca is known for making tires for cars. They get a big supply of rubber from the forests. As far as farming, it has shrunken in the economy, but is still important part of the city. Beekeeping is actually a big part of it as far as the usual of livestock and growing crops. Some of the typical crops grown are wheat, barley, rye, oats and corn.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Geography and location Economy
Cuenca, capital of the province of Azuay, is located in the sierra of the Andes in the Austro or southern region of Ecuador. It is approximately nine hours south of Quito and four hours east of Guayaquil. The city ranges from 2,350 to 2,550 metres (7,710 to 8,370 feet) above sea level.
The dominant features of the city's geography are also the source of its name in Spanish: the four rivers of Cuenca (meaning a basin made by a confluence of rivers). These rivers are the Tomebamba (named after the Inca culture), Yanuncay, Tarqui and Machangara, in order of importance. The first three of these rivers originate in the Páramo of Parque Nacional Cajas to the west of the city. These four rivers are part of the Amazon river watershed. Cuenca is surrounded by mountains on all sides, with passes to the west, south and east.
River Tomebamba next to the cities centre
Cuenca, Ecuador: Parishes
Cuenca Canton contains the following parishes:
Octavio Cordero Palacios (Santa Rosa)
Victoria del Portete (Irquis)
Cuenca, Ecuador: Climate
Cuenca features a subtropical highland climate (Cfb) under the Köppen climate classification. Like the rest of the Ecuadorian Andes, Cuenca enjoys a mild climate year-round. Days are generally warm and nights are cool enough that sweaters or jackets are usually desired. The average daily temperature is 14.7 °C (58.5 °F). There are two seasons: rainy and dry. The dry season, with some variation, falls between June and December. The rainy season, which is characterized by bright sunny mornings and afternoon showers, falls between January and May. The heaviest rains come in the invierno (wet season) of March, April and May.
The first university in the city was established in 1867 and is the Universidad de Cuenca. It is considered the third oldest university of the country, right after the Universidad Central del Ecuador (1836) and the Universidad Nacional de Loja (1859). Ever since, the city has been growing and more universities were created with new careers. This led to the declaration of Cuenca as the City of Universities by the National Assembly of Ecuador on January 4, 2011.
The city has the following Universities:
Universidad de Cuenca (UCUENCA)
Universidad Politécnica Salesiana (UPS)
Universidad del Azuay (UDA)
Universidad Católica de Cuenca (UCACUE)
The first one is classified as an A category university the next two are B category and the last one is D category. This was stated by the Council for Evaluation, Validation and Assurance of the Quality in Superior Education of Ecuador (CEAACES)
Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
The Catedral Nueva
ii, iv, v
1999 (23rd Session)
Most tourists visit the historic area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, between the river Tomebamba and the street Gran Colombia to the north, General Torres to the west, and Hermano Miguel to the east. This area's compactness, grid-like layout, and numerous readily identifiable monuments make it easy to navigate. Outside this area the city can be confusing, as there are dozens of narrow colonial streets with similar buildings.
Major fiestas of Cuenca come at the time of the "Mass of Children" that is carried out the day of the Arrival of Kings (January 6 - Epiphany Day), or in the commemoration of the independence of the city (November 3), during which processions, cultural acts and dances are organized. The nearby Cañar plantation (in the county of the same name) features the biggest Inca ruins in Ecuador.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Landmarks
Old Cathedral (Iglesia de El Sagrario). Built in 1557, the edifice eventually became too small for the town's attendants. In 1880, a new cathedral was built as the replacement. The old cathedral, no longer consecrated, has been restored and used as a museum.
New Cathedral (official name: Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción). Its towers are truncated due to a calculation error of the architect. Had it been constructed as planned, the foundation would not bear the weight of the full towers. In spite of the architect's immeasurable mistake, the New Cathedral of Cuenca, completed in 1885, is a monumental work of faith. A combination of Romanesque Revival and Neo-Gothic in style, the church's blue and white domes have become a symbol for the city. Its façade is made of alabaster and local marble, while the floor of the nave is covered with pink marble, brought from Carrara (Italy). At its inauguration, the newly constructed Cathedral could accommodated 9,000 out of Cuenca's 10,000 inhabitants at that time.
Park Abdon Calderon. It is located in the center of Cuenca between the old and new cathedrals. On the park benches, people meet to converse and absorb its tranquility. The municipal offices are located nearby.
Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion. In the atrium a colorful flower market supplements the beauty of the church which was founded in 1682. A sculpted stone façade and a golden pulpit make the church very attractive.
Monastery and Museum of La Concepcion, with 17th-century tombs and a complete collection of religious art.
House of the Ecuadorian Culture
Municipal Museum Remigio Crespo Toral
Museum of the Central Bank
Museum of the Aboriginal Cultures
Church of Santo Domingo
Turi the Mirador
Ruinas de todos los santos. In this old place, four niches of Inca origin exist. Their form is trapezoidal and they are built of stone. There are also remains of a colonial mill.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Surroundings
Molleturo, a vast rural area (about 1,000 square kilometres or 386 square miles) situated in Ecuador’s southern Andes, and composed of several little villages (hamlets). The centre of the area is located at 1.5 hours of distance in car from the nearest bigger city (Cuenca). In fact, this distance is very little compared to ten years ago when there was no road for cars and it took people 3 days of mule riding to get to Cuenca. In spite of the advantages, the road had also very negative impacts on the ecological system, which is still very important for people's daily survival.
Jima, located near Cuenca, is a hiking hotspot for southern Ecuador. Jima is located at the base of two beautiful green mountains at 8,800 feet (2,700 metres). Hikes for all skill levels are available including a three-day hike from the peaks of the Andes mountains down into the lush tropical rainforest of the Amazon basin.
Chordeleg. Less than 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Cuenca, it is a town of Cañari origin, known for its weavers, embroiderers and potters. In the same area there is a stone corridor in snake form, built in pre-Inca time, known for gold and silver smiths and local jewelry.
View of Cajas National Park
El Cajas, a national park where the rivers, streams, and lagoons seem to unite to create a temple of nature, in which the altitude varies from 3,500 to 4,200 metres (11,500 to 13,800 feet) above sea level. It is a place for bird watchers and trout fishermen.
Lacs en miroir (Mirrored lakes) in Cajas National Park
Azogues, the capital of Cañar Province, 29 kilometres (18 miles) from Cuenca. In this city of colonial atmosphere, one of the highlights is San Francisco's convent, built on the summit of a huaca (sacred mountain) of the prehispanic residents.
Cañar plantation, with a colorful market and the nearby ruins of Ingapirca (wall of Inca stone). Cañar plantation is located 65 kilometres (40 miles) from Cuenca and it is usually the starting point for the trips to the famous ruins that, according to the experts, were used to control the native Cañaris. Stores, bathrooms, a tambo for the Inca, a temple dedicated to the sun, they are part of Ingapirca that was built in the 15th century by orders of Huayna Capac.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Culture
Cuenca, Ecuador: Festivities
One of the festivities celebrated in Cuenca and in other parts of Ecuador is "El Carnaval" This is celebrated three days prior to Ash Wednesday. Families get together to celebrate what started as a "pagan ritual". Now it is celebrated by wetting friends and random people with water balloons and spraying "Carioca" a non staining foam.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Transport
Street view of Simón Bolívar Street, named after Simón Bolívar, next to Calderón Park, in the Historical Center.
Cuenca, Ecuador: Bus station
Cuenca's inter-provincial bus station, called the Terminal Terrestre as it is in most cities, is well organized and clean. It is located on Avenida España in the northeastern corner of the city, a twenty-minute walk or a brief taxi ride from the historic center. Also, many City buses provide frequent service as indicated by the "Terminal Terrestre" placard on the windshield. A guide to using the City buses, maps of the routes and an online trip planner can be found at CuencaTransit.com
Buses arrive and depart throughout the day. Service is available to major cities, such as Guayaquil and Quito and also to nearby cities such as Loja, Riobamba, or Machala. The distance to Guayaquil is 243 km. and the bus takes nearly 4 hours on the highway Durán-Pto.Inca-Molleturo (I582W), a scenic ride through the Cajas National Park. Quito is 497 km from Cuenca and the trip takes around 10 hours on the Road Pan-American Highway (I35N). Many prefer to travel by bus at night. Those who choose to travel overnight should exercise caution due to reported bus hijacks which have resulted in armed robbery. 
Cuenca, Ecuador: Airport
The airport, named Aeropuerto Mariscal Lamar (Mariscal Lamar Airport), is located due east of the Terminal Terrestre (bus station) on Avenida España. It's a 5-minute walk from the bus station. Four airlines currently serve Cuenca; AeroGal, LAN Ecuador, and TAME fly to Quito daily while Línea Aérea Cuencana (no longer operating as of November 2013) and TAME fly to Guayaquil. This is Ecuador's third busiest airport. Over 1,400,000 passengers a year pass through its gates.
Cuenca, Ecuador: International relations
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in South America
Cuenca, Ecuador: Twin towns – Sister cities
Cuenca is twinned with:
Tempe, Arizona, United States
Cuenca, Ecuador: See also
Cuenca, Ecuador: References
Netvoluciona. "Economía de la provincia de Cuenca". www.economiaprovincialcuenca.es. Retrieved 2016-11-09.