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It is no wonder that Cuenca was named the "Number One Retirement Haven" in the world for 2009 and again in 2013. With a population of around 460,000 people, Cuenca is large enough to find all the amenities you want, yet small enough not to have the crime found in a larger city.
Cuenca is located in the southern Sierra at an elevation of 8,200 feet and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Cuenca is believed to have been founded around 500 AD as a Cañari settlement. Later, the Incas would build one of their three most important cities in Cuenca, the ruins of which are still visible on the grounds of the Banco Central Museum. The Spaniards finally laid claim and gave it the name it has today. Cuenca was officially founded in 1557.
Those who live in Cuenca believe it to be a truly a magical place to call home. From it's cobblestone streets to the thriving downtown shops in stunning colonial buildings to the boundaries defined by beautiful, rushing mountain rivers from which came it's formal name of Santa Ana de Los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca. (Santa Ana of the four rivers of Cuenca). From its genteel residents to the value Cuenca culture places on ethnicity, art and education. Cuenca is truly a glorious and civil world unto it's own.
If you ever dreamed of stepping back in time to a more civil society where the cost of living was what it used to be; where you knew your neighbours and life revolved around more than the high cost of daily life, you could not find a more magical spot than Cuenca. Elders are respected here, not discarded. Young people love art and jazz as much as their elders. Cuenca thrives on creativity and the evidence is abundant on every street, in every plaza and in the overwhelming number of art and music opportunities that occur here on a weekly basis.
Cuenca is dotted with galleries, antiques, old world ‘tallers' who will handcraft whatever you need, from clothing to copper pots and pans to hand carved furniture. It seems there is a jewellery store, a shoe store, a vitamin store and of course, a bakery on virtually every block in town. Pick up a dozen long-stemmed roses in the flower market for around $2.00.