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The pride that has filled Cuencanos since their city was designated Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO on December 1, 1999, swelled to a new high, bursting out into the streets in surges of joyous celebrations on Wednesday, July 25, 2001, when the city received the news from Barcelona, Spain that it had been named the Cultural Capital of the Americas for the year 2002. Nominated and registered by the Municipality of Cuenca ,with the support of the Cantonal Council, Cuenca was selected from a distinguished list of entries coming from 39 countries throughout the hemisphere.

Moreover, in being selected, Cuenca was once again recognized for the cultural richness that stems from its unique blend of modernity and colonial charm – a blend that leaves the distinct impression that the city’s development, from pre-colonial civilization to modern-day urban center, has been driven by a preconceived plan to leave behind and highlight the best of art and architecture as a testimony to the cultural eminence of the Americas. And indeed, it takes no more than a leisurely stroll through the city’s narrow cobblestone streets or the extraordinarily radiant countryside that surrounds it to see all that has been glorious in this charming city, past and present. From the traditional agricultural

It’s easy to see how Cuenca earned its title while relaxing in a verdant park surrounded by some of the hemisphere’s most impressive architecture.

practices of the ancient Cañari still employed in the area’s lush surroundings to the splendor and mystery of the preserved Inca ruins to the architectural grandeur of the towering Cathedrals built by the Spaniards, Cuenca is a tangible tribute to the cultural prominence of all those that have inhabited it.

Moreover, what little of its cultural heritage that can’t be admired from its bustling plazas and verdant parks, is kept safeguarded in its many museums, accessible to all who wish to delight in it. In fact, such is the cultural glory of Cuenca that, to anyone who knows the city, its appointment as the Cultural Capital of the Americas comes not as a surprise but rather as an overdue confirmation of the well-known.

But the designation is more than just a source of pride for the citizens of Cuenca and for Ecuador, in general. The fact is that the title, much like that which was bestowed upon Cuenca by UNESCO nearly two years ago, will actually help the city to further preserve its cultural prosperity. Since being honored by

Not all of Cuenca’s cultural heritage is out in the open. Some treasures are preserved in the city’s many museums.

UNESCO in 1999, the city has been able to undertake preservation projects and strategic development plans that have allowed it to grow without sacrificing the aesthetic and cultural qualities which have long attracted tourists from around the world. Likewise, this latest recognition will surely enable the city to further develop its cultural treasures in a way that will allow it to prosper without sacrificing that which has made it a great and unique city for centuries. Therefore, the appointment is an achievement which will pay off for generations to come. As was proudly published on, the city’s most well-known web site, on the day after the announcement made by the committee in Spain, “¡QUE VIVA CUENCA HOY Y SIEMPRE!…”