Cuenca and Around

Parque Abdón Calderón

Parque Calderón in Cuenca, Ecuador

Parque Abdón Calderón is the heart of Cuenca. It has some beautiful trees, including imported pines and palm trees. There are many benches to sit and enjoy the calm atmosphere of the park. In the middle of the park, you will find a statue of Abdón Calderón, a hero from Cuenca who fought in the libertarian Battle of Pichincha in 1822. The statue was erected in his honor in 1931. It was made by the sculptor Carlos Mayer from Rome, Italy.

History of Parque Abdón Calderón

Parque Abdón Calderón dates back to the founding of the city by Spanish general Gil Ramírez Dávalos in 1557. It was created as the city’s central square according to the Procedures for the Creation of Cities in the New World, as declared by King Charles I of Spain in 1523. The Procedures for the Creation of Cities in the New World ordered to develop cities by creating a Hippodamic grid with the north-south and east-west streets intersecting every 84 meters. At the center of the grid had to be a central square, called Plaza de Armas, around which were to be located the administrative authorities: the cabildo (town council) and the audiencia (royal appellate court), the ideological authorities (the main church), and the repressive authorities (the prison and at the center of the square as a symbol of domination the pillory. As you can read further below, most of these institutions are still located around the park.

Parqué Abdón Calderón in the 19th century
The park in the 19th century, at that time still called Plaza de Armas.

In 1875, the still visible tall pines were planted. They were imported from Chile by president Luis Cordero Crespo. In the middle of the park was a fountain, which you can still find at the campus of the Universidad de Cuenca.

The park got its present-day design in 1920. That year it also got its current name: Parqué Abdón Calderón. The park underwent a renovation in 2001 and 2002.

Around the park

Around Parque Abdón Calderón, you still find buildings of the authorities mentioned above: the administrative authorities, the ideological authorities and the repressive authorities.

Gobernación del Azuay

The Gobernación del Azuay is the provincial government of the province of Azuay. At the head of the gobernación sits the gobernador, who is appointed by the national government in Quito. Local demonstrations against the government in Quito almost always occur in front of this building, because the Gobernación represents the national administrative authorities.

Municipal Palace of Cuenca

The Municipal Palace of Cuenca houses the city hall of Cuenca. There used to be a beautiful city hall at this location, but it was demolished in the 1940s. Next to the old city hall was a prison, which was demolished at the same time.

Catedral Vieja

The Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral) is Cuenca’s oldest building. Its construction started in 1557 with stones from the former Inca site Pumapungo. It now houses the Museo Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral Museum).

Catedral Nueva

The Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral) is Cuenca’s landmark. It’s built on the location of a Jesuit church, which was severely affected by an earthquake. The construction started in 1884. More than 80 years later, in 1967, the cathedral was inaugurated. The entrance is free. It’s also possible to climb one of the towers.

Corte Provincial de Justicia del Azuay

The Provincial Court of Azuay.

Casa del Parque

How to get here

Calle Simón Bolívar and Calle Luis Cordero, Cuenca, Ecuador