San Sebastián Plaza

Mariscal Sucre and Coronel Talbot

The parish of San Sebastián was founded in 1560, soon after the founding of Cuenca, and the construction of the early adobe-walled church is attributed to the first priests. This small square was named after the church.

The parishes of St Sebastian and St Blas, respectively located then at the west and east ends of the early city, were known as “Indian districts”, indicating the racial and social segregation of the colonial period.

At the time, the square was surrounded by a rough stone wall and was used to hold festivals, the main one of which took place on January 20th, corresponding with the feast day of the district’s patron saint. This festivity was celebrated with traditional dances, and fireworks. The first futbol matches were held in this space, and there are also records of bullfights.

Located on one side of the church is a splendid cruciform fountain with a central spout.

The square is surrounded by important buildings such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Church of St Sebastian, the Larrazábal Gallery, and many delightful restaurants and cafes. It is a lovely place to enjoy a meal, or coffee and dessert, and people-watch.

In 1739 the square was the scene of the tragic death of the French doctor Jean Seniergues, a member of the first French geodesic mission. The expedition’s surgeon, Jean Seniergues, emboldened by a few too many glasses of aguardiente, had the audacity to join his local lover in the very public setting of a bullfight … while she was sitting with her father. The situation escalated rapidly, with weapons drawn, and a crowd of irate locals surrounding Seniergues, jabbing him with pikes and lances while shouting “Kill the French foreigners!” A week later, he died from his wounds.

The square was officially renamed Miguel León after one of the bishops of Cuenca
At one end of the square there is a bronze statue of the poet Miguel Moreno Mora.

A lovely old fashioned marble planter in the plaza

The geometric layout of the square dates to the early 20th century and its design is attributed to Octavio Cordero Palacios. Of distinct Renaissance influence, it is associated with the ornamental gardens created at Versailles by the landscape designer Le Notre.