Although the official kick-off of Cuenca’s foundation festival is this morning at 8 in Parque Calderon, crafts fairs and some events were already in full-swing over the weekend.
In preparation of the festivities, the city has hung more than 400 flags along historic district streets and on Av. Loja, the southern entrance to the city. Beginning tonight, special lighting will showcase the city’s most prominent buildings including the new and old cathedrals, the Santo Domingo and San Alfonso churches, the mayor’s office. Lighting has also been placed in the barranco district of El Centro, along the Rio Tomebamba.
Today’s events, in addition to the inauguration and lighting ceremonies, include the “Night of the Lanterns” parade, beginning about 6 p.m. and proceeding from the San Blas church to Parque Calderon, and a high school student dance presentation at the Broken Bridge.
On Tuesday, events will be presented all day at special kiosks on Calles Benigno Malo and Presidente Córdova, with concerts beginning at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, there will be a “cuy fair” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Yanuncay campus of the University of Cuenca and artisan fairs at the Plazoleta El Farol, the San Luis Seminary and the Plazoleta Otorongo.
On Thursday, the annual student parade from San Blas Plaza to the Calderón Park will step off at 9 a.m. At 6 p.m., another parade on the same route will feature alumni bands from area high schools. Later, there will be an outdoor concert at Parque de la Madre highlighted by Cabas and Sergio Sacoto.
Friday afternoon and evening features ‘Rotofest’ electronic music concerts at the Broken Bridge while Jorge Celedón performs in Parque de la Madre.
Friday is a holiday in Cuenca and municipal offices will be closed.
Although the foundation festival celebrates the city’s founding as a Spanish city in 1557, historians point out the community of current-day Cuenca had actually been established thousands of years earlier. “We should never forget that our real ancestors, the Cañari, established a city here more than 1,500 years ago,” says retired history professor Juan Gonzalez. “In fact, Cuenca has been continually inhabited for more than 4,000 years, possible for as long as 5,000 years by the ancestors of the Cañari.”
Cuenca was called Guapondeleg when it was the center of the Cañari nation. The Incas, in their 75-year reign in the city, called it Tomebamba.