Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Day 18

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Cuenca, Ecuador

Before we tackle the hard core tourism today, notably an exploration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, we taxi out to El Mirador de Turi, which offers scenic views over Cuenca.  We’re surprised to see a smog-like haze over the town that is very reminiscent of Los Angeles.  Apparently, the hills surrounding Cuenca produce an inversion layer that traps the pollution beneath it.  We risk the effects of the smog and amble back to town across the river Tomebamba.  Our ultimate destination is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but the river is quite seductive and we follow its gentle, meandering course for much longer than we had planned.

We return to the town center via Santuario Mariano (which is extravagantly decorated with flowers and icons) and the Old Cathedral (which is painted in dazzling shades of white and salmon).  Cuenca certainly does not lack for stunning churches.

Two fast facts before we finally visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  First, Cuenca is a major center for both students and travelers wishing to learn Spanish.  And second, the town has become a very attractive destination for American retirees, especially the so-called recession refugees, due to the low cost of living and the availability of high quality health care.  OK we’re entering the cathedral, which, on closer inspection, is made of beautiful pink granite.  The enchanting blue-domed exteriors are in sharp contrast to the more austere interior.  We see people praying in small alcoves away from the main altar, the centerpiece of which is the classic statue of Jesus nailed to the cross.  There are many stained glass windows around the walls, giving the place a wonderfully light and airy ambiance.  One amusing sign I see in the cathedral reads ‘Radio Catolica, 98.1FM Cuenca’.

 Blog post by Roderick Phillips, author of Weary Heart – a gut-wrenching tale of love and test tubes. 

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