Río Tomebamba & Calle Larga

Río Tomebamba & Calle Larga information

Cuenca , Ecuador
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The swift, rock-strewn Río Tomebamba is attractively lined with old colonial buildings that tower above the grassy riverside. The buildings themselves open onto the street of Calle Larga, which runs parallel to - and directly above - the river. From Calle Larga, three attractive stone stairways lead down to Avenida 3 de Noviembre, which follows the river's northern bank and makes for a pleasant walk. The largest staircase, at Hermano Miguel, is known as La Escalinata.

One of the river's landmark features is the Puente Roto (Broken Bridge), the remaining third of an old stone bridge that once spanned the river.

Inside one of Calle Larga's historical buildings, the Museo Remigio Crespo Toral (283 3208; Calle Larga 7-27 near Borrero) contains religious sculptures, colonial furniture, paintings and a fine selection of indigenous artifacts.

A block away, on the stairs down to the river, the Centro Interamericano de Artes Populares (Cidap; 284 0919, 282 9451; Hermano Miguel 3-23; admission free; 09:30-13:00 & 14:00-18:00 Mon-Fri, 10:00-13:00 Sat) displays changing exhibits of traditional indigenous costumes, handicrafts and artwork from around Latin America. It has an outstanding crafts store and promotes many of its featured artists and artisans by selling their work.

Further along Calle Larga, the Museo de las Culturas Aborígenes (283 9181; Calle Larga 5-24; museoarq@etapaonline.net.ec; admission around US$2; ;09:00-18:30 Mon-Fri, 09:00-13:00 Sat) houses an outstanding collection of about 5000 archaeological pieces representing some 20 pre-Hispanic cultures of Ecuador and reaching as far back as 13,000 BC. The layout is very attractive, and there's a small gift shop and bookstore.

Continuing east, you finally come to some small (almost nonexistent) Inca ruins at the Museo Manuel Agustín Landivar on Calle Larga, beside the Río Tomebamba. Unfortunately the site and the museum are closed indefinitely, but you can still see the ruins from the outside.