Santuario Mariano del Carmen de la Asuncion Iglesia



Mariscal Sucre and Padre Aguirre streets

The convent was founded in 1682 for the Order of the Barefoot Carmelites of Our Lady of the Assumption. The church was built around 1730.

The church is accessed from the cloister and the Flower Market. The walls are made of adobe. The main portal is stone carved and is an example of the Baroque style in Cuenca.

The church altarpiece is wood carved covered with gold leaf and decorated with tiny mirrors.

The pulpit is also wood carved and covered in gold leaf and mirrors.

The portal displays symbols of St. Paul holding the key to the gates of heaven. And also the bicephalous eagle of Charles III of Spain, who was regent at the time of construction.

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I love love love old photos of Cuenca, and especially of this church:

This is the home of the Nino Viajero – the Traveling Child, who is the focus of the eight hour parade on Christmas Eve Day.

Part of the choir is covered in mesh which is intended to cover the cloistered nuns who enter to sing in it during special services.

The convent entrance is in a corner of the square known as the Flower Market. The stone carved frieze leads to a hallway, which leads to the cloistered nuns convent. All nuns who enter the convent must take the name Maria.

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People line up outside the door to the convent to buy “Pitimas Water” made by the nuns. It is made of cultivated medicinal plants and flowers from the interior gardens, and is said to have healing and relaxing properties.

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The “torno” through which the nuns sell their products. An order is placed, and then the items are delivered through the turnstile torno, without the nuns ever being seen.

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The nuns sell red wine, white wine, blackberry and passion fruit wine; radish syrup for flu and tonsil problems; a multivitamin syrup made of honey, milk and eggs -recommended for stress and hormonal change; a lotion for muscle aches – made of herbs soaked in alcohol; and a lemon creme to heal blemishes caused by the sun. Photo courtesy of El Telegrafo, March 2019.

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photo courtesy of El Telegrafo, March 2019

The view from inside the Santuario looks out at the New Cathedral.

Convent Garden 1935

Cloistered Nuns

1910. You can see the New Cathedral being built to the front and left of this photo.

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convent gardens

Aerial photo of the hidden interior convent gardens, from the pagina oficial virgen del carmen.

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Santuario Mariano 1930

Sojos Building

Simon Bolivar 9-24. Built 1907

At the beginning of the 20th century, Dr. Benjamin Sojos purchased this building, and decided to give it a new facade. He commissioned new building materials from France, one of which was cement, which was use for the first time in Cuenca. Exposed brick is another element of the construction.

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The ground floor is still Dr Sojos pharmacy.

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The old pharmacy still operates selling sodas, lotions, oils, and various products. And lots of German products.

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There are two towers at the top of the building which are accessed via spiral staircases.

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On the top levels are offices of the German Center of Cuenca.

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Museo Monasterio de las Conceptas

Hermano Miguel 6-33 This group of adobe walls and large tiled roofs encompasses an entire city block in the historic center composed of Borrero, Presidente Cordova, Juan Jaramillo and Hermano Miguel streets. It was the first nuns’ convent in the city founded in 1599. It includes the convent, a church, and the Museum. The Museum is currently closed – hopefully it will reopen soon!
During the colonial period there were few options for women. They could marry, or become nuns, or remain single, which was not a comfortable option. This cloistered covent was founded in July 1599 at the request of the city’s residents, and with alms from the city residents. Doña Leonor Ordóñez, a widow,donated the family house to accomodate the convent, and the only condition was that her three daughters would have to be accepted into the cloister. The house already had its own small church. This large house with more than four courtyards with large adobe and bahareque rooms was inhabited by about 150 people in 1790. They were nuns, novices and servants. Later there were discipline problems among the nuns and servants, so Bishop Miguel León ordered the convent’s employees to leave. For more than 400 years the entire building was occupied by the nuns.
The museum exhibits the sculptures, objects, paintings, and altarpieces from the old convent, hidden to the eyes of the general public for over four hundred years.
The Museum of the Monastery of the Conceptas, has 24 rooms; 8 of these are on the ground floor, where information is provided about the convent, its restoration, and how the daily life of the nuns developed..
There is a beautiful series of black and white photographs by Gustavo Landívar that show the different activities of the cloister nuns, such as prayer, making hosts, bread, and agua de pitimas (healing drink).
The central courtyard gardens showcase every herb, flower and plant that once grew inside. Besides being beautiful, they are like veritable botanical gardens full of variety and color. There are datura and penapenas, acanthus, chamburo, ciglaló, the Heart of Mary, linden, feverfew, and San Pedro cactus. The niches where nuns were previously buried are also preserved on the first floor. The entrance to the museum is on Calle Miguel Hermano. The face of Saint Michael the Archangel, a life size carving from the 17th century, is framed by the real hair of a novice. It has a silver sword carved in the first half of the 17th century. San Miguel Arcángel is a warrior who has on his head a European warrior’s helmet but with feathers that represented the Andean warriors. The wings are made with gold leaf that represent the European culture and contain mirrors that are symbols of the Cañari culture. The sculpture of San Miguel Arcángel has its’ own room. The Las Conceptas community had him as a protector against thieves. If the nuns heard any noise in the Cloister, they were not scared because they believed that Saint Michael was prowling the corridors to protect them. The Museum has a beautiful collection of sculptures of angels from the 18th and 18th century. The convent received rich gifts and donations. Inside, great works of art, furniture, jewelry and glassware were kept, which were almost always hidden from the outside world.It was only in the1960s that these treasures began to be exhibited to the public, since by monastic orders they remained out of sight. In 1966 a few pieces of the monastery came out for the first time and were part of an exhibition that traveled through some cities in the United States . This is believed to be one of the earliest photographs of Cuenca, in which one can clearly see the belfry of the Monasterio. It must have been a city landmark during the colonial and republican periods. At the beginning of the 1980s, a restoration project was generated in the monastery to turn it into a museum. This project was carried out by two young Cuenca architects, Edmundo Iturralde and Gustavo Lorrelt, who worked with architect Hernán Crespo Toral.  Work commenced on a restoration project for the present day museum, sponsored by the Central Bank of Ecuador. The project involved the remodeling of the old infirmary and cemetery to accommodate the Museum of Religious Art, which opened to the public in 1986. Since the girls who entered the convent were often as young as 8-12 years old, they brought their toys with them. There is a room devoted to the toys these young girls brought with them.The girls who entered the convent belonged to the wealthy classes and they took their toys with them to the convent for a temporary or permanent residence.
There are rooms where the daily life of the nuns is recreated , such as the cells where they slept. The nuns kitchen, the large pots and the products they used from the garden are also recreated. Carved stone steps leading into the church. The present day church was built in 1712. In 1876 another building phase commenced resulting in the addition of an infirmary, novice house, and the completion of the belfry. The carved doors of the church date to 1924. On the feast day for Michel Archangel on September 29th there is a special mass in the church. Then the faithful celebrate it by taking the statue outside of the church in a procession around the convent. The procession is led by darling little girls throwing rose petals in the street.

Quinta Guadalupe

Avenida Loja y Calle Alfonso Borrero

This french style building was designed as a holiday home for Juan Manuel Vintimilla. It was built in the early 20th century, around 1920. The estate was much larger, had crops, and was not considered to be in the city – it was a country home.

Beautiful wrought-iron railings and brick columns surround the property.

A staircase with three flights of steps converging at a landing, provides access to the building.
Inside, the spaces were organized around several courtyards with galleries.

There are several original murals depicting pastoral scenes which can still be admired.

At the beginning of the 1990s the building was sub-divided. A wall divides the property into two separate parts. This photo is from the south side of the property, which is now called Mansion Victoria.

The current owners of Mansion Victoria will be opening a restaurant in this space soon.

Marble benches in the gardens of Mansion Victoria.

There is a beautiful front garden based on ornamental design which has an oval-shaped fountain decorated with ceramic frog-shaped spouts. From Mansion Victoria

Los Molinos del Batan (Le Moulin Restaurante)

Los Molinos del Batan was originally a flour mill operated using the waters of the Tomebamba river to turn the grinding wheels for making wheat and rye into flour. Now operating as Le Moulin Restaurant, the restaurant contains two original flour mills. Beneath the restaurant and connected to the hoppers above in the main dining room are the two wheels that turned the mill by water power.

There is romantic dining available on tabes outside, on the banks of the Tomebamba River.

The original building is believed to be about 400 years old. and has a number of grinding wheels displayed outside.

The restaurant features exposed beams and a high reed ceiling, and wood and brick floors. This post is about the architecture of this beautiful building, which I just love! But P.S. – the food is excellent too!

Look how thick these adobe walls are!!

Very interesting light fixturs….

Lining the walls of the restaurant are photos of Old Cuenca. The beauty of Cuenca is that it doesn’t look all that different today!

The mill grinding wheels, downstairs, under the back of the building.

You can eat in one of the “Caves” with the grinding wheels, for a very unique experience. You will be serenaded by the rushing Tomebamba River.

Such a pretty place to have dinner – either inside the historic building, or outside on the banks of the Tomebamba River.

Calle Mariano Cueva

This colorful Cuenca street runs from the north on Ave de las Americas, south to Calle Larga. It was named after a Vice President of Ecuador, Mariano Cueva Vallejo.

This mural was painted by the very talented Felipe Urgiles.
You can see the tower of Todos Santos Church on Calle Larga to the right in this photo.

early morning clouds on Calle Mariano Cueva…..

Mariano Cueva Vallejo (August 5, 1810-March 18, 1882) was an Ecuadorian politician and journalist. He was born in Cuenca, the son of Tadeo Cueva Tinoco and Serafina Vallejo Encalada, natives of Loja and Cuenca. In January 1861 he went to Quito as Deputy of Azuay to the National Convention and on March 10 he was elected Vice President of the Republic of Ecuador by 20 votes against 16 of his opponent Pedro José Arteta. He was governor of Azuay and the rector of the University of Cuenca on two occasions, where he remained until his death at the age of 71.

I do not know if this street had any significance in his life, or if it was named after him in his honor.

Mauricio’s Bookstore

I had walked by this building many times but never ventured in. Looking up from the street, the top floor almost looked abandoned to me, but I should have known better. Sr. Mauricio will greet you at the top of the aged staircase, and he will be delighted to help you find any book you might need, in Spanish, English, French, or German.

The fashionable Sr. Mauricio can help you find any book there….

Mauricio’s Used Books. Spanish, English, French, and German. Buy and Sell.

A very old staircase leads to the store.

The bookstore is located on the top floor, at the corner of Luis Cordero and Presidente Cordova.

Seven Churches on Outskirts of Cuenca

It is a tradition in Cuenca to visit seven churches on Good Friday. I have already posted on this blog about many of the better known churches. (Please see the new Table of Contents) We decided to visit seven churches on the outskirts of Cuenca for this Viernes Santo.

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños. I had often driven by and seen the blue domes of this church in Banos, but I had no idea of how large it is!

at Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños

at Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños

crowds waiting in line to be fed Fanesca, on Good Friday, at Santa Marianita del Arenal.

Iglesia Catolica de San Joaquin

Iglesia Catolica de San Joaquin

Iglesia Santa Marianita de Misicata

Iglesia Santa Marianita de Misicata. I love these beautiful old wooden ceilings.

Iglesia Santa Marianita de Misicata.

Iglesia Santa Marianita de Misicata. I love these beautiful old wooden ceilings.

Iglesia de Senor de la Buena Esperanza de Huizhil

Cemetary at Iglesia de Senor de la Buena Esperanza de Huizhil

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Baños

Iglesia Catolica de El Carmen de Gozho

Iglesia Catolica de El Carmen de Gozho

at Iglesia Catolica San Juan Bosco

Iglesia Catolica San Juan Bosco – this is the old church which they left intact behind the building of the new church.

Casa de Laura

On a hillside outside of Nabon, overlooking the León Valley, is an enchanting place that is beyond fairy tale dreams come true! It is the magical home of Maria Graciela Vintimilla called “China” by her friends. The house is named after her mother Laura. It is about a 90 minute drive from Cuenca.

China is a whimsical folk artist, and her artistry is visible all throughout the property.

The view of the Leon Valley is constantly changing with the colors of the cloud cover. Rainbows are frequent!

China’s Chicken Vegetable Soup is famous, and worth the trip! A party of at least 12 persons is required for a visit, and lunch.

China had a show of her art at the Cuenca Municipal Casa de Lira this past year.