For the first time since the 1950s, pedestrians strolled down Cuenca’s historic Calle Santa Ana on Monday. The alleyway connecting Calles Benigno Malo and Padre Aguirre, along the north side of the cathedral, had been bricked shut for more than 60 years.
Envisioned for years as an arts and café alley, the reopening had been delayed three times due to disputes between national and city governments and the Catholic church. Jonathan Kouperman, regional director of Ecuador’s Ministry of Culture and Heritage, blamed the delays on city government for not delivering its work on schedule, including the installation of lights.
The city says the lights have been ordered but have not arrived.
A larger controversy involves a church-owned building that blocks part of the alley. In the original plans, the building, which is not historic, was slated for demolition but the church has balked at the plan. The building, next to the San Luis Seminary, is unoccupied.
One restaurant, located on the ground floor of the San Luis Seminar, opens onto Santa Ana. Other commercial spaces on the street remain to rented.