Cuenca’s Foundation Holidays kicked off officially Thursday night with a parade on Av. Loja. Police estimate that about 10,000 turned out for the event.
The holidays mark the 457th anniversary of Cuenca’s founding by the Spanish. In November, there’s an even larger celebration as the city commemorates the date when the Spanish were kicked out of town. “In Cuenca, we take any occasion for a party,” said Fernando Ortiz, member of the committee that stages the foundation celebrtion.
The event has been in full swing in some sections of town since Thursday morning as another parade snaked its way through the historic district, near the cathedral, and crafts and food vendors set up booths in city plazas and along the Rio Tomebamba. A third parade, this one of high school student bands and dancers, steps off today at 10 a.m. from Parque San Blas, heading up Calle Simon Bolivar to Parque Calderon.
Historians have issued their annual statement pointing out that Cuenca was actually established long before 1557. “We should never forget that our real ancestors, the Cañari, established a settlement in the valley more than 1,500 years ago,” says retired history professor Juan Gonzalez. “In fact, there were large groups living in this area as long ago as 4,000 years.” 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.
Dozens of city parks, plazas and markets are presenting live entertainment, food and crafts through Sunday, April 12.
The municipal tourism office estimates that 30,000 visitors are in town for the festivities.
Photo caption: Spectators lined Calle Simon Bolivar Thursday morning to watch one of several parades in the historic district.