Cuenca is the first Latin American city to receive the World Heritage Cities Organization’s Jean Paul L’Allier award.
The award recognizes the city’s El Barranco project, including restoration and improvements to Paseo Tres de Noviembre, Parque de la Madre, the Calle Hermano Miguel escalinata and the Rio Tomebamba footbridge near the University of Cuenca.
The award was announced by an international jury at UNESCO’s World Heritage Center headquartered in Quebec, Canada.
The prize is awarded every two years to a city that has distinguished itself in the conservation, enhancement and management of World Heritage assets.
“This is a huge prize for us. It recognizes our efforts to preserve our heritage not just for Cuencanos, but for the world to appreciate,” says Cuenca mayor Paúl Grande. “It also testifies to the talent and energy of our people.”
Granda said the award fits with the other distinctions that the city has received recently. “In the last four years Cuenca has received several awards that indicate we are doing things right,” he said. In July, Cuenca was recognized by the Financial Times of London for being the world’s “most cost effective city” in which to live and invest.
Granda complimented Cuneca’s El Barranco Foundation and the Office of Historical Assets for their vision and support of the Barranco project and said the city will continue its program to protect and enhance its history.
Paul Carrasco Peña, director of the Barranco Foundation, agreed, saying that the city has other projects on the drawing board to enhance Cuenca’s heritage. “It gives us a great sense of satisfaction to know that our efforts are known by the international community. It makes us want to make the city even more beautiful.”
Granda will receive the World Heritage award in November in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Photo caption: A renovated Parque de la Madre opened earlier this year in Cuenca’s Barranco district.