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.
The small village of Quingeo is about a 50 minute drive southeast of Cuenca, and is full of colorful adobe homes. I am from Santa Fe, New Mexico so when I see old adobe homes like this it makes my heart very happy!
Sra. Maria, la esposa de don Guanoquiza
Here you can see the adobe bricks, and the bahareque construction.
Looks like John Lennon made it to Quingeo Ecuador!
I was so honored to be invited by the Teodoro Montero family to view their family home which is currently in the process of being renovated; and to attend a lovely event in the home, featuring Teodoro’s book, an autobiography of his life. The home is being renovated by Felipe Urgiles, who is the same person who recently finished the spectacularly beautiful renovation of Casa del Parque in Cuenca.
The house is a work in progress. Some of the renovation is complete, but there is a good amount still to come. I will be following the progress of the renovation.
The lovely event included jazz musicians, flowers, candlelight; and there was a full house attending. When the renovation is complete, the house will be available for special events.
Felipe Urgiles completely restored this beautiful, very large espejo, mirror, to its original design.
Selecting colors for the walls in the grand sala……
All “before” photos are provided by Felipe’s wife, Lore Izquierda.
Felipe, painstakingly restoring the murals.
This is a sketch, superimposed on a photo of the exterior, sketching out how the front of the house will look when completed. There will be murals of angels on the walls.
Felipe with the new color selected for the grand sala walls.
The event was to celebrate the book written by Teodoro Montero. Teodoro moved to Cuenca from Bilbian. He started working as a jeweler, and eventually set up his own business. During the event he described how his business came to be, and grew. He reminisced about a long time business friendship/relationship with a person from Barcelona Spain. His business donated to non-profits for children. He and his family used to bring baskets of food door to door at Christmas.
The title of the book – “Desde el Soplo con la Churumbela al Rayo Laser” is referring to the tools used for jewelry making. The soplo la Churumbela was originally used. The person using it had to blow on the instrument, and it produced quite a lot of smoke, which could be irritating to the users throat. The Rayo Laser – or laser cutting, is now used.
Teodoro Montero, signing copies of his book. The event was full of friends, admirers, and family.
Teodoro’s daughter Sandra, has continued in the tradition, and has a store of her beautiful jewelry in the building. This is a photo of Sandra’s daughter, Andrea, modeling a “peineta” or jewelry hair piece, which Sandra Montero designed.
Felipe Urgiles in front of the renovated mural.
an “After” photo…
Cuenca persons will recognize this ceiling in the Turquesa Room, at Mansion Matilde in Casa del Parque, which Mrs. Gladys Eljuri de Alvarez, owner of Mansion Matilde and La Casa del Parque designed; and Felipe Urgiles painted.
Felipe Urgiles at work. He is an amazing artist, and a treasure for Cuenca.
It’s no secret that I am crazy in love with Cuenca’s gorgeous Spanish Colonial, French, Republic Era, and adobe Architecture. But Cuenca does modern style renovation really well too! This hotel in El Centro just recently opened.
The hotel is at the corner of Gran Colombia and Benigno Malo. It is the old building of the Hotel Internacional designed by the Italian architect Alfonso Durini and built by the masters Ángel and Luis Lupercio between 1927 and 1932, its first owner was the hat exporter Víctor Miguel Delgado. In 1969 it was acquired by Antonio Peña Bernal who made some arrangements and adaptations in the architecture so that his hotel would function under the name of Hotel Internacional. In 1987 the architect Teodoro Peña Cordero carried out important restoration work. Today the current owner, is Mrs. Maritza Yumbla. The splendid current restoration was carried out by the architects Alfredo Ordoñez Castro and Fabián Orellana Serrano, who also directed the restoration of the historic building of the Remigio Crespo Toral Museum; the interior design was carried out by the Portuguese professional Carlos Lopes Silva
The hotel has three floors and fifteen rooms.
The Za-Za Lounge on the top floor has amazing 360 degree views of historical El Centro Cuenca.
This spectacular Cuenca Patrimonial home was built in 1890 by the Cuencano poet Ernesto Lopez Diez, inspired by a trip he took to France, and designed in the french style of the early 1900’s. Ernest Moscoso (Gustavo Moscoso’s father) bought the house in 1995, intending to restore it. After his father’s death, when Gustavo was only 19, the house was closed up for 15 years.
The house belonged to the Moscoso family for more than 30 years, but it was not until 2014 that they began the meticulous process of restoration
The house has four levels. There is a car park on the ground floor which used to be a vegetable garden. Also on the ground floor are offices and design spaces for Gustavo’s fashion business.
Gustavo Moscoso, is a famous Ecuadorian fashion designer. He began the restoration of his family’s home in 2014, along with his sister May. (GM Palace stands for Gustavo and May) They maintained the architectural elements and hand painted murals of the style from when the house was built. They researched the history of the house, and of its architect, Ernesto Lopez Diez, the first owner. But in the interior decoration they made some changes, and mixed styles. For Gustavo it was really important to rescue and renovate the existing home, but at the same time keeping its usefulness up to date. It is a dazzling timeless combination of old and new.
They brought pieces of furniture from their father’s store, and three chandeliers from their mother’s house. The sofas, leather armchairs and other furniture were made by hand by Cuenca artisans.
The second floor includes the kitchen, dining room, and grand sala.
These ceilings are made of polychrome brass, a design element seen in Cuenca homes of the french design in the early 1900’s.
The master bedroom is on the third floor, with the master bath partitioned off with tempered glass behind the bed.
Hidden in the room are stairs which take you further up to a very magical space in the house.
The fourth floor is a comfortable anteroom attic which leads to the observation deck on the very top of the house. The Observation attic was created by the original owner/builder, because he was an astronomer, and he wanted to study the stars.
There is another flight of stairs up to the actual outdoor observation deck.
Once there, you are treated to a dizzying dazzling 360 degree view of all of Cuenca’s Historical district.
Gustavo Moscoso’s fashion business has a strong family background. Ernesto Moscoso Fuentes was a cloth merchant in Cuenca. He married May Ferrando, from Chile. Gustavo took over the business at 19, when his father died suddenly. He began to import foreign fabrics, and then made a collection of designs with these fabrics. He launched his first collection in 2001. His main store is in Guayaquil in the Plaza Lagos. From Cuenca and Guayaquil he branched out internationally. His successful collections are shown in Buenos Aires, Panama, Cancun, New York, Lima, and Paris.
These painted dresses are a collection put together by Gustavo and his design colleague Olga Doumet, in a collaboration with other designers and artists. The collection is called Ispirato Corpo, which has been shown at the Bienale of Contemporary Art.
The house also is a showcase for some of Gustavo’s collection of contemporary art from different artists in Cuenca and Latin America.
Gustavo has plans to possibly someday turn part of this spectacular house into a restaurant, or jazz club. It also can be available as an Airbnb, for a once in a lifetime Cuenca experience.
The former School of Medicine of the University of Cuenca was built on this particular plot in 1916 because it was adjacent to the old St Vincent of Paul Hospital, therefore enabling students to obtain practice as well as theoretical training.
The main entrance has an exquisite wrought-iron semicircular gate. The whole building is slightly raised from the pavement, accessed via short flight of steps in the fashion of a podium.
The project was promoted by Honorato Vázquez, Rector of the University, who also had a distinguished career as a diplomat, being Ecuador’s representative at the court of Madrid during the border conflicts thatoccurred in the country at the beginning of the 20th century. It occupied a privileged location on the banks of the River Tomebamba,
The handsome façade is entirely in exposed brick, in keeping with the style popular at the time.
A large interior courtyard held the classrooms and other facilities.
This courtyard is distinguished by a central gallery with twelve columns possibly added around 1930. The gallery ceiling is of the polychrome brass variety.
A segmental arch displays a carved marble shield of the University of Cuenca at its centre. Still discernible above is a pinnacle inscribed with the date of construction, 1916.
An old Linotype Printing Press, and the letters used for the Printing Press.
The building was used as a site for the Cuenca International Bienal. Pictured here is an exhibit in the Bienal.
Situated on the west is a corridor leading to an empty space outside that once accommodated tennis courts. In 1968 the School of Medicine moved but The University of Cuenca continues to own the building, and it is now the Museum of the University of Cuenca.
Cuenca is gorgeous all the time. But it is even more enchanting at night. “Cuenca doesn’t look like a sixteenth-century city that has been preserved; it looks like a city that has been in use since the sixteenth century.” Calvin Trillin
Formerly the St Vincent of Paul Church and Hospital. 12 de April and Solano Avenue.
For over seven decades, these buildings accommodated the St Vincent of Paul Hospital, the city’s first health institution run by Social Welfare. It is accessed via a long exterior corridor that generates a slow approach, providing users with the time to admire the beautiful architectural features of the complex. Of handsome proportions, the church was designed by the German Redemptorist monk Juan B. Stiehle in the late 1890’s and was financed by Social Welfare with funds collected from donations and bequests.
Above the pediment,serving as the crest, is a statue of St Vincent of Paul.
An underground crypt contains 30 funeral vaults, in keeping with the old tradition of burying the dead in churches.
The complex was restored in 1986 by the architects Patricio Muñoz Vega and Gustavo Lloret Orellana, with funding from the Central Bank of Ecuador. Now it accommodates the Medicine Museum, and the church has been adapted to serve as the museum auditorium.
There are botanical gardens in the grounds and the complex is also one of the venues used for the Cuenca International Biennial.
The hospital facilities were organized in large wards around interior courtyards.
The church emerged as a consequence of the presence of the Sisters of Charity religious order, which attended the sick, and the need to keep vigil over those who died in the hospital.
The Mercedarian Monastery in Cuenca was founded on 12 May 1712. Its first commander was Father Pablo de Santo Tomás, who initiated construction of the church and monastery. The latter was allocated to the Oblate Fathers, whose order was founded in the city of Cuenca by Father Padre Julio María Matovelle, the designer and builder of the church between 1884 and 1918.
There are two Castilian lions exquisitely carved on the front door.
In 1960 the Oblate Order decided to renovate the monastery, but the appearance of the church has remained relatively unchanged through the years. Inside, the church has low levels of natural light due to the fact that there are very few windows in the thick adobe walls of the church.
The middle of the carved wooden door displays the shield of Cuenca.
The left leaf of the door is decorated with an image of Our Lady of Grace,
The right leaf of the door displays the Mercedarian shield decorated with laurels and angels.
Located on one side of the church is Padre José María Matovelle Square, named after the founder of the Order of the Oblate Fathers in Cuenca. The square is distinguished by a concave stone wall carved with images associated with the foundation of the city, with a sculpture of Matovelle at its centre.
On the concave wall are images of the founding of the city and the church