Cuenca is one of the main destinations to experience culture in Ecuador. The city that has been elected twice as the premier destination for retirees in the world, has created a special tour for tourists. It is called the museum trail, and it is an unforgettable experience.
Every Saturday and Sunday everybody has access to 6 of the biggest museums of the city, accompanied by knowledgeable guides and best of all: free of charge.
The Office of Culture, Sports, and Education of the Municipality of Cuenca, started this program in order to promote the museums and local culture and history.
The museums you can see are The Religious Art Museum of the Old Cathedral, the Museum of Modern Art, Quinta Bolivar, City Museum (old Central school), Posadas House and Casa del Sombrero (House of the Hat).
Everybody gets together on weekends in the Calderon Park at 11 o’clock. From there, guides will take everybody on the tour and explain the multiple destinations and works of art found on each.
The Religious Art Museum of the Old Cathedral is located in the El Sagrario. It was the first settlement in Cuenca, and therefore the church was also named El Sagrario. It is lovingly called by the locals The Old Cathedral since a “new” one was built 400 years later.
The Old Cathedral is a big part of the history of the city. Built by the original Spanish founders, it oversees the growth of the city and its expansion. It was built using various materials ranging from the old-fashioned adobe to Inca stones, cooked roof tiles and more.
It was closed for six years due to renovations starting in 1999. A joint effort that was possible due to the combined efforts of the City officials, the Church and the Spanish International Cooperation Company. A team was assembled including experts in architecture, restoration, archaeology and research. Each painting, sculpture and other works of art were carefully treated and restored to their original state.
The restoration works were made using the newest technologies available, having great care and in some cases, decisions were made not to introduce any new materials in paintings and sculptures to preserve their historical value.
Another example of the museums you can visit in Cuenca and include in this «trail» is the Quinta Bolivar (the House of Bolivar). Known before as House Chaguarchimbana (even locals have trouble pronouncing that) is located to the southeast of the city. In September of 1822, Simon Bolivar, leader of the independence revolution in South America, arrived at this house and stayed for a week.
The actual house, however, was torn down in 1937 and then rebuilt. This newish house was then baptized House Bolivar, and a plaque was placed with the inscription «Here Bolivar Rested.»
In 2005 it was transformed into an art gallery dedicated to the memory of El Libertador (the liberator). Today the house is the property of the Municipality of Cuenca and now it is a depository of original books written by Bolivar and multiple works of art by local artists.
The first floor includes an auditorium used for national and international conferences and some other events. Outside you can admire old walnut and fig trees that are a great part of the charm of this historic house.
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