5 Churches in Cuenca You Have to Visit

Photo of Kristen Tideman
9 February 2017

The influence of Spanish culture has become an indelible part of Ecuador’s heritage today. A significant aspect of that culture is the Catholic church, evidenced by the various stunning churches. Here are five of the must-see religious gems of Cuenca.

Iglesia Sagrario, Cuenca | © jipe7/Flickr

Old Church of Cuenca

Building plans began on the Iglesia Sagrario (or the Old Church) in 1557, as Spanish influence moved into Cuenca. Used by the French on their geodesic mission, this landmark has now become a museum filled with religious artifacts. Inside one of the rooms are several murals spreading floor to ceiling, as well as a representation of the last supper with almost life-sized statues. The ancient organ still sits at the rear of the sanctuary and two crypts can be found underneath the building.

Iglesia Sagrario, Cuenca, Ecuador

Church of El Carmen de Asunción

This tiny church was constructed in colonial times and is also known for its monastery. Located off of the Plaza de las Flores, which hosts the popular Cuencan flower market, this church is marvelously preserved down to the gold-colored pulpit, and contains religious art as well as the Virgin Carmen, located at the front of the church.

Iglesia San Sebastian

This unusual, asymmetrical church with one tower on its right side instead of two, stands out from the other churches of more classical structure, even though it is one of the oldest churches in Cuenca. It is located at the western limit of the historic city, on the park that shares its name. To make the most out of your visit, this makes a perfect stop as The Museum of Modern Art is conveniently situated on the other side of the park.

Casa Parroquial San Sebastian, Simón Bolívar, Cuenca, Ecuador

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Cuenca’s piece de resistance, the massive Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, or New Cathedral, is worth a trip in itself. With Spanish stained-glass windows, Italian marble on the walls and floors and its three unmistakable blue domes, this cathedral is an astounding work of art. Construction began in 1885 and continued over the next one hundred years to create this feat of architecture. Although easy to find due to its size, the church is also located on Cuenca’s main park, Parque Calderon and is still in use today.

Catedral de la Inmaculada Conception, Padre Aguirre, Cuenca, Ecuador

Iglesia de Todos los Santos

On the Calle Larga, Iglesia de Todos los Santos, or Church of All of the Saints, sits next to the Tomebomba River. The original building was the first church in Cuenca, but as the building began to decay in the past century Cuenca began a process of restoration. One of Cuenca’s historic crosses stands outside, one of several in the city.

Iglesia de Todos los Santos, Calle Larga, Cuenca, Ecuador