A Peaceful Stroll along Río Tomebamba
Ecuador’s swiftly flowing Río Tomebamba divides the town of Cuenca, with the modern residential areas on the southern side and the historic colonial section on the north. The grassy north bank of the river offers a scenic walking trail that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The beautifully preserved colonial buildings line Calle Larga street, which runs parallel to and above the Río Tomebamba, adding old world charm to the surroundings.
Visitors who would like to explore the area may want to start on Calle Larga, where they can enjoy the colonial architecture of the houses before descending via one of the three stone stairways to Avenida 3 de Noviembre. From there visitors can take a pleasant walk along the river’s northern bank.
Near the bottom of the stairways, visitors will come across the Museo de Artes Populares, which is taken care of by the Centro Interamericano de Artesanías y Artes Populares (CIDAP). This small, but informative, museum displays superb examples of arts and crafts from all over Latin America. Visitors can expect to see colorful hand-woven items, ceramics, painted masks and sculptures made from papier-mâché. A shop at the museum sells a range of local crafts and each month the museum features the works of a different Ecuadorian artisan, which visitors can buy.
Further along the riverbank, visitors can take a detour away from the river to explore the Zoológico Amaru that boasts a selection of indigenous fish, amphibians and reptiles. One of the highlights of the zoo is the tank of piranha that, despite their ferocious reputation, prefer to spend their time hiding among the leaves and branches in their tank.
Another landmark on the Río Tomebamba is the impressive white-painted church, Iglesia Todos los Santos, which dates back to the late nineteenth century. Heading east from the church, visitors will come across the remains of an old stone bridge known as Puento Roto (Broken Bridge) that at one time spanned the river, but is now used as a viewing point on the river.
Once the lovely Río Tomebamba has been thoroughly explored, visitors may want to stop of at the Museo de las Culturas Aborígenes on Calle Larga to view the approximately 5,000 archaeological items going back as far as 13,000 B.C and representing twenty of Ecuador’s pre-Hispanic cultures.