Iglesia San Roque and San Roque Neighborhood

San Roque is a very traditional neighborhood of Cuenca. The first church was built by the priest Fernando Avendaño, between the years 1875 and 1880. A subsequent church was built in 1927 using the foundations and walls of the 1875 church. San Roque was named after the Holy pilgrim who dedicated his life to prayer and healing to the sick of the black plague; The present day church was built in the early 1980’s.

Iglesia de San Roque at sunset…

There are many legends in this neighborhood. La Viuda del Farol, is one of them. It is said that she was a woman who appeared at night, – she went out crying every night in search of her son. She said that they had robbed her and she was carrying a lantern in her hands and walked the entire neighborhood every night in the dark of the night.

San Roque was a neighborhood where there were canteens, which made it known as a bohemian area. Some of the houses in the area still have basements. It is said that the basements were used to hide contraband liquor.

San Roque neighborhood…

The church is located off of Loja Avenue. Loja Avenue used to be considered the southern entrance to the city, and this area was actually considered to be it’s own town. 

This large country house in San Roque Square was built on what was then the outskirts of the city in the late 1800’s. In 1954 the country house was sold to Elsa Valdivieso de Guillén and remained her home until 1980. In 1999 the property gained the name of “Villa Elsita”, in honor of its previous owner.

Neighborhood around Iglesia San Roque. The streets are narrow and winding.

The “Goat man” walking in the San Roque neighborhood. Bring your own bottle – he will fill it for $1.00

Another legend is that that there was a plague of ugly, skinny insects slightly resembling scorpions, in this area in the 1940’s. They are called ututus. The origin of the plague was attributed to the priest of San Roque at that time, who declared a curse to punish a theft from the church. As the years passed, it was discovered that the plague was not a product of the curse of the priest; however ututos can still be found in homes along the rivers. They can be quite scary looking, but they are harmless. When I first moved here, I witnessed an artist’s display of numerous very large metal stick bug structures in San Roque square. I wondered at the time why anyone would create an art piece of all of these large creepy bugs! But now I know the legend of the Ututos of San Roque!

In the center of the square there is a statue of the Marshal of Ayacucho, Antonio José de Sucre. In the past, schools and colleges would congregate in the square every 27th of February to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Tarqui.