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Southern Andes >Provinces >Azuay

A Thirst for Culture

Home to breathtaking protected areas such as El Cajas Recreational Area and the city of Cuenca, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Azuay is southern Ecuador’s most important tourist center. Moreover, Azuay is a great place to shop for high-quality handicrafts and partake in festive celebrations throughout the year. The area also boasts an ideal climate, with temperatures ranging between 12 and 20 degrees centigrade. This province has a national airport with flights available to most any point in Ecuador.


Cuenca - Cultural Capital of the Americas

Surrounded by mountains, traversed by four rivers, and home to beautiful 14th- and 15th- century architecture, Cuenca surprised nobody when it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In the Old Town, you will find Parque Calderón and other colonial parks and plazas, neighborhoods that date back to the first days of the Spanish conquest of the area, and religious art museums showcasing some of Ecuador’s most impressive artwork. Also to be admired in this area are architecturally impressive buildings and churches such as the Old and New Cathedrals, Santo Domingo, San Sebastián, and San Blas, to name but a few. The city is also famous for hosting the International Art Fair. The most impressive of the city’s many museums are as follows: Banco Central, Casa de la Cultura, Conceptas Convent, Remigio Crespo Toral, Artes Populares de América, Arte Moderno, and Instituto Azuayo de Folclore. With so much cultural heritage to offer the tourist, it’s no surprise that Cuenca was chosen as the Cultural Capital of the Americas in 2002.



Pork rinds, quinua soup, grilled guinea pig with potatoes, grilled trout, bu?uelos (sweet pastries), and pork tripe soup are some of the most typical delicacies found in Azuay. Fanesca is a typical Easter dish and mote pata ( boiled wheat fried with pork) is popular during Carnival.


Villages and Towns

Gualaceo, in northern Azuay, is famous for its fine woven and embroidered textiles, leatherwork, and ceramics. Paute, on the other hand, is full of fruit farms and sugar cane plantations and is home to the biggest hydroelectric power station in the country. Sigsig is well known for its high-quality, internationally known toquilla straw (a.k.a. Panama) hats as well as for the quality of the apples they produce. You can also visit nearby Chopsi Cave where traces of the region’s first inhabitants have been found.


Cajas Recreation Area - Lakes and Primary Forests

Located 30 km from Cuenca, this protected area of over 28 thousand hectares is home to 275 lakes and an abundance of primary forests. Several rivers, some of which flow to the Pacific and others of which drain into the Amazon Basin, have their source here. With a temperature that never drops below 10 degrees centigrade, the area is home to many different species of flora and fauna. There are many interesting trails for walking and hiking in the park but it’s advisable to go with a guide.


Cabogana Peak

Here you can see several waterfalls and excavated ditches cut out of the rock.



Baños, with its unique setting, is a few kilometers from Cuenca and is famous for its hot springs, colonial architecture, and the Sanctuary of the Vírgen de Guadalupe.


Mazán Forest

Rich in flora and fauna, this forest is protected by the ecological group Friends of Mazán and the water company. Located along the road from Cuenca to Cajas, this cool area is home to thousand-year old trees.


Chopsi Ruins

The Chopsi Ruins are a group of rock engravings housed in a cave. They consist of large quadrangular buildings surrounded by smaller ones, enclosed in a stone wall.


Yunguilla Valley

This valley is home to many citrus plantations. The beauty of the scenery gives the visitor a chance to relax and enjoy the peaceful setting. Those with more energy can climb Francesurco Peak and visit the Monument of the Battle of Tarqui.


Culture & Traditions

Cuenca has many local celebrations and festivities. May 2nd is the Festival of the Crosses. El Septenario begins with the Festival of Corpus Cristi which lasts eight days and includes fireworks, processions, and concerts performed by brass bands. December’s Pase del Niño, a festival which mixes folklore and religion, is probably Cuenca’s most famous festival.


Map of Azuay, Ecuador
Province's Capital Road Cities
Ethnic Group Archaeological Site Thermal Waters


| Introduction | Cuenca | Cuisine | Towns | Cajas |
| Cabogana Peak | Baños | Mazán Forest | Chopsi Ruins |
| Yunguilla Valley | Culture & Traditions | Map of Azuay, Ecuador |

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