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Introducing Ambato

Ambato takes a little warming up to. Compared with nearby Baños, it offers little for the traveler, except the chance to experience a totally nontouristy Ecuadorian city. And it’s actually an interesting place. The Monday market, which fills the streets downtown, is one of the biggest in Ecuador. Above town, there are fabulous views of the puffing Volcán Tungurahua (5016m), and Ambato’s parks and quintas (historic country homes converted into parks) are lovely. The ambateños (people from Ambato) themselves must be some of the best-dressed folks in Ecuador.

The city is proud of its cultural heritage, and nicknames itself ‘Tierra de Los Tres Juanes’ (Land of the Three Juans), after the writers Juan Montalvo and Juan León Mera, and lawyer/journalist Juan Benigno Malo. All three are immortalized in Ambato’s parks, museums and buildings.

The city lies 47km south of Latacunga (136km south of Quito) and is the capital of Tungurahua province. It was badly damaged in a 1949 earthquake, but a modern city was soon rebuilt.