Gualaceo Canton

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Santiago de Gualaceo
Gualaceo's Main Church
Gualaceo's Main Church
Flag of Santiago de Gualaceo
Official seal of Santiago de Gualaceo
Justo Y Fuerte
Location Ecuador
Location Ecuador
Location Gualaceo
Location Gualaceo
Coordinates: 2°54′0″S 78°47′0″W / 2.90000°S 78.78333°W / -2.90000; -78.78333Coordinates: 2°54′0″S 78°47′0″W / 2.90000°S 78.78333°W / -2.90000; -78.78333
San Juan
Mariano Moreno
Remigio Crespo
Luis Cordero
CantonJune 25, 1824
 • MayorMarco Tapia
2,449 m (8,032 ft)
Time zoneUTC-5 (GMT-5:00 (Quito, Bogota, Lima))

Gualaceo, nicknamed “El Jardin del Azuay” (The Garden of Azuay), is a canton in the sierra region of Ecuador in the Azauy Province. It is located 35km east from the city of Cuenca and is one of the biggest cities in Azuay.

Gualaceo has 38.587 inhabitants, is crossed by the three rivers Santa Bárbara, San Francisco and Guaymincay and carries the nickname “El Jardin del Azuay” due to its beautiful location surrounded by mountains and nature. The city currently holds the title of Cultural Heritage of the Nation. Gualaceo became its independent canton on the 25 June, 1824.


Its history goes back to the etymology of its name "GUALACEO", a cañari word modified from the Chibcha word Gualaca meaning “macaw’s settlement”, it was a Cañari settlement for long time, belonging to the Kingdom of Quito until it was conquered by the Incas.

In the year of 1531 - 1532, the Inca Empire of Tahuantinsuyo arrives to its end, with the death of the last monarch Atahualpa, in the hands of the conquerors that came from the old world, Sebastián de Benalcázar with its presence marks the start of the Spanish colonization.

With the arrival of the Spaniards begins the phase of the colony. The conquerors get to all the corners of the Kingdom of Quito, and Sebastián of Banalcázar assisted by the caciques (overlords) Llivicura (Gualaceo) and Duma (Sigsig) and other cañaris, they explored the valley of the Tomebamba and they rose for the slopes of Dotaxí, Cristo Rey and they arrived to Gualaceo, marvelous place by their landscapes and rivers that hallucinated for the shine of gold.

This happened in the month of April 1534, in which Benalcázar raises with their troop the first camp of mining settlement at the edges of the wider river, which is named Santa Barbara, Benalcázar also named the tributaries San Francisco and San José while the other 2 tributaries still conserve their cañari name: Guaymincay and Shío.

The Spaniards remained in the valley of Gualaceo for many years, since 1534 until 1549 does not exist documents that describe Gualaceo as an organized population, but was a mining camp.

210 years since the first mining settlement passed, until July, 1757 where Gualaceo is elevated to ecclesiastical parish of Cuenca, governed by a party judge lieutenant Manuél Dávila Chica and its vicar José Villavicencio.

Manuel Dávila Chica, in his quality of leader of that region contributed for the independence of Cuenca, with men, horses, wood of cedar and walnut and food.

The Independence of Cuenca and the whole Ecuador leads to the republican life, in the first instance belonging to the Great Colombia with the Departments of Venezuela, Cundinamarca and Quito.

In 1824 the Congress of Colombia proclaims the department of Azuay conformed by the provinces of Cuenca, Loja and Jaén of Bracamoros & Mainas.

The Cantons of the province of Cuenca are: Cuenca, Gualaceo, Cañar and Girón. This pronouncement was sanctioned by Francisco of Paula Santander president responsible for Colombia on June 25, 1824. Date in which is considered Gualaceo was declared canton.

Traditions and festivals[edit]

In Gualaceo, artisans still produce traditional products the original way. The tradition of weaving macanas is passed on through families in the canton and tourists can learn more about this practice in the homes of artisans in and around Gualaceo. In the central plaza, one can buy products carved of wood or paja toquilla, the material the famous straw hat is made of.

Other than having a lot to offer when it comes to artisanal tradition, Gualaceo also has a lot of festivals celebrating the culture of the canton. The staged battle between the Christians and the Moors on the 24 June, one day before the celebration of the cantonization, is only one example of how the city celebrates its history. Other festivals include the carnival in February, which the city is known for in the whole of Azuay, the Pass of the Child and the celebration of the declaration as a World Heritage Site.

Another festival is dedicated to the local drink called rosero which is unique to Gualaceo and usually consumed with a quesadilla. Gualaceo also offers more national delicacies, like cuy or hornado in the central market called mercardo de 25 Julio.

The canton also has a history of exporting orchids nationally and internationally as the climatic conditions around Gualaceo are perfect for the delicate flower. The orchid farm Ecuagenera just outside Gualaceo is very popular for this reason.

Gualaceo Photo Gallery[edit]

External links[edit]