Ambato - The Charming "City of Flowers and Fruits"
The town of Ambato is the capital of the Tungurahua province and is best known for its lively festivals. It is also well known for its importance in the leather industry and the production of wine, textiles and canned fruit. It is a popular destination in Ecuador and visitors are greeted by breathtaking mountain ranges, sparkling fountains, lush gardens and comfortable accommodations. It is easy to see how the town was nicknamed the “City of Flowers and Fruits”, since the parks are filled with beautiful flowers and the streets are lined with trees. Another nickname that has been bestowed on Ambato is “The Land of the Three Juans”. This originates from the most famous writers, Juan Leon Mera (Wrote Ecuador’s National Anthem), Juan Montalvo (Famous writer) and Juan Benigno Vela (Respected teacher) to come from this city and their presence can still be felt in the museums and monuments that honor these impressive men. It is a region filled with history, fame and pride and should be one of the destinations in Ecuador that visitors should definitely make an effort to explore.
To find out more about the Three Juans, you can make your way to Parque Montalvo where you will find the Juan Montalvo statue. You can also pop into his home in Montalvo Street. Follow his name and you should find what you are looking for. Some locals have spoken of Ambato as the “Garden of Ecuador” and this is easy to understand when one looks around at the vegetables, grapes, strawberries, pears, peaches and apples that come from this area. While some come to Ambato to hike through the spectacular landscapes, others come to appreciate and purchase beautiful handmade crafts and tapestries. There are few historical sights, such as the local museum, the old mansion (Quinta de Juan Leon Mera) and the Museo de Ciencias Naturales Hector Vasquez that exhibits stuffed animals and other collections. The market that is held every Monday bustles with traders and buyers. You will most certainly be able to find anything there.
But what makes this one of the more preferred destinations in Ecuador is the La Fiesta de la Fruta y las Flores. This is the Festival of Fruit and Flowers and people from all over Ecuador come to Ambato to join in the festivities. The festival is held in February every year. At first you might think this is an odd month for such a festival - especially since the fruits featured at the festival are in season all year round. However it is in February that the apples and pears are at their best. As you might expect, Ambato comes alive with color during this fruit extravaganza, which includes coconuts, mangoes, pineapples, fruit juices and many more. The local girls compete in the pageant to win the title of Queen of the City, while floats and parades overwhelm the streets. Ambato is a wonderfully festive and memorable experience.