Cañar; Archeological and Cultural Capital of Ecuador

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As we celebrate one more year since the declaration of Cañar as Archaeological and Cultural Capital of Ecuador, we recall In this article some of the reasons why this canton has become one of the most important tourist destinations in our country.

Cañar is located 174,6 mi. south of Quito and 22,3 mi. north of Azogues, in the province of Cañar. On January 26, 2001 it was declared the Archaeological and Cultural Capital of Ecuador for being the cradle of the Great Cañari Nation, a culture that emerged in these territories approximately 2,000 years bC (Narrío phase) and has left a great legacy in terms of ceramic art and traditions.

Those who visit Cañar will find a wide range of tourism activities, because in addition to its important archaeological and cultural resources, this canton is surrounded by magnificent natural sites.  

Below, we recommend some attractions that you should know during your visit:

Ingapirca Archeological Complex

It is considered the largest and best preserved archaeological site in Ecuador. Its name, coming from the kichwa language, means «The Incan wall».

It is the tourism crown jewel of the canton and province and is regarded as the largest and best maintained archaeological site in Ecuador.

It has vestiges and remains of an elliptical-shaped ceremonial temple as well as ancient warehouses, homes, and other buildings.

You may also see fascinating rock formations like «La Cara del Inca» next to the complex. On the other hand, the site museum features stunning artifacts from the Cañari and Inca cultures, including pottery, bone, and metal.

Culebrillas Lagoon

This lagoon is considered a sacred place, since according to legend, the serpent progenitor of the Cañari nation hid in its waters after a great universal flood.

The lagoon is located at 3860 m.a.s.l. and is surrounded by paramo vegetation. In the surrounding area there are important archeological remains such as Labrashcarumi (an ancient workshop where stone was worked) and Paredones (a tambo that sheltered the hikers that traveled through the area for hundreds of years).

Qhapaq Ñan

Known in Spanish as «The Great Inca Trail», it is the ancient Andean road system, formed on the basis of a network of roads, strategically arranged to cover the entire length of the Andean geography.

In 2014, the Qhapaq Ñan was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The best preserved section of the Qhapaq Ñan in Ecuador runs along the Sangay National Park, in the upper zone of the Culebrillas Lagoon. Along the trail, one can see remnants of ancient civilizations as well as the typical flora and wildlife of the moorlands and montane forests in the Cañar province.

Guantug Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum:

It is located in the Guantug Recreational Park.  Its archeological room exhibits bowls, aríbalos, axes, flutes, amulets and other objects made of ceramic, bone, shell and gold by the Cañari and Inca cultures.

The ethnographic room recreates scenes of daily life, festivities and clothing of the most representative communities of the canton, whose colorful history fascinates visitors who come to the site.

Cañari Nation

This ethnic group, descendants of the ancient settlers of the area of Cañar and Azuay, comprises a population of approximately 150,000 people. Although they used to speak «Cañari» as their language, they currently speak kichwa and Spanish.

Their way of life is based on livestock and agriculture and, to a lesser extent, on handicraft production. They are recognized for their courage and for being lovers of their traditions and customs.

Undoubtedly, the Cañari ethnic group has been a key factor for the declaration of Cañar as Archaeological and Cultural Capital of Ecuador, because its members have maintained their historical memory, customs and traditions, all of which is reflected in their clothing, music, legends, gastronomy and festivities.

San Antonio Sanctuary

This sanctuary that dates back to 1934 is located in the beautiful San Antonio viewpoint, at 3260 m.a.s.l. According to locals, in 1958, a Eucharistic miracle occurred in this temple when during a mass the parishioners saw the face of Jesus appear in the monstrance.

The architectural beauty of this temple makes it an ideal place to visit for lovers of cultural and religious tourism.

Central Market

It is the ideal place for those seeking to have an experiential experience with the customs of the inhabitants of the area, because in addition to knowing the processes of distribution and sale of basic products (food, clothing and handicrafts) it is possible to enjoy the typical cuisine of the place such as guinea pig with potatoes, chiviles and fritada.

We invite you to get to know Cañar and its cultural and natural attractions. Also, to enjoy the agenda of activities that has been organized to celebrate the anniversary of its declaration as «Archaeological and Cultural Capital of Ecuador».

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