Spanish in Cuenca

Discover Cuenca while you take Spanish classes!

Cuenca is certainly the most charming city in Ecuador, a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site, boasting cobblestone streets, traditional colonial parks and plazas, cathedrals and churches and beautiful riverside walks. For these reasons, in addition to its year-round temperate climate, Cuenca has become the top retirement destination for expats, especially from the US. This influx has had the effect of making the city much more cosmopolitan – replacing the former very conservative (some would say dull!) city with a vibrant mix of ice-cream parlors, cafés, restaurants and bars that are open until late – all the amenities that the international traveler expects to enjoy. These exist alongside the more traditional and cultural daily life of this Andean city with its indigenous presence, markets and bazars.


Around Cuenca there are many interesting places to visit for the tourist interested in cultural or natural history. From the Inca ruins of Inga Pirca, to the indigenous crafts-producing villages of Chordeleg, nearby thermal springs and spas, and the Cajas national park, there is plenty to do and see on day trips from Cuenca. We offer a regular calendar of activities and excursions through reliable local operators that students are encouraged to sign up for.

Click on the links to the right to learn about each one.

Four rivers wind through Cuenca with many beautiful homes lining the rivers Yanucay, Tomebama, Machangara and Tarqui. On the outskirts of the town it is still common to see women washing their clothes in the river as they have done for generations. There are eight universities in Cuenca, including the prestigious Universidad de Cuenca (University of Cuenca) with around 12,000 students. Thus there is a strong intellectual tradition in Cuenca which is the home to many poets, writers, artists and philosophers.

The first settlers of the area around Cuenca were the Canaris indigenous group. They named the settlement Guapondelig which translates as the poetic title “land as big as the sky”. After the Inca conquest Cuenca was renamed Tumipamba which translates as “plain of the ridge,” perhaps reflecting the Incas more pragmatic world view!

Subsequently the Spanish explorer Gil Ramirez Davalos founded the first colonial settlement in 1557 and called it Tomebamba. Later on the Spanish renamed the town “Santa Ana de los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca,” which has been shortened since then to just Cuenca.


Santa And de los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca makes the perfect location to study Spanish with its deep historical and cultural roots, tranquil cobblestone streets, impressive colonial architecture and enduring indigenous presence.

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