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Latacunga, Ecuador - A Mini-Quito With Many Historic Buildings

Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - June 2009 July 2012 July 2015   » View Photoset (51 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
Latacunga has a gem of an historic center that most backpackers miss because it is on the other side of the bridge from the bus terminal. I had missed it on
Ecuador Photo - Red, blue and yellow fighter plane monument at Cotopaxi Air Base in Latacunga.
Red, blue and yellow fighter plane monument at Cotopaxi Air Base in Latacunga.
my 1st 2 visits to Latacunga when I stayed across the road from the terminal before and after visiting Quilotoa Laguna in 2009. In 2012 I returned and stayed a couple of nights to explore the city, there is a lot to see and is kind of like a mini-Quito. It had been a long 9hrs by bus from Portoviejo to get to Latacunga this time - through the towns of Chone, El Carmen, Santo Domingo and Machachi.

Cheap Hotels

If you are on a budget the best bet for cheap hotels is around the bus terminal, it's a 5min walk across the bridge to the historic center, but the prices of hotels are a lot higher.
Ecuador Photo - Vicente Leon monument in Latacunga, (1773-1839), a local philanthropist.
Vicente Leon monument in Latacunga, (1773-1839), a local philanthropist.

Vicente Leon Park & Central

The main square called Parque Vicente Leon is right in the heart of the historic center. It's a big octagonal shape with palm trees and flower gardens and is dominated by the huge monument in the middle of (you guessed it) Vicente Leon (1773-1839), a local philanthropist. On one side of the park is the great white cathedral, it has been rebuilt several times along with the city after earthquakes in 1742, 1768 and 1877. Just 2 blocks south from here is church Iglesia San Agustin, the Plaza of Culture (Plazoleta de la Cultura) and the historical Hermanas Paez Hospital - a nice area to explore. A couple of blocks east I found another interesting building - the Army Polytechnic School (Escuela Politecnica del Ejercito) with courtyard, gardens, fountain
Ecuador Photo - 2 sided monument in the center of Parque la Filantropia in Latacunga.
2 sided monument in the center of Parque la Filantropia in Latacunga.
and bronze head of ex-President General Alberto Enriquez Gallo (1895-1962).

Parque Nautico la Laguna and Mama Negra

Walking south-east towards park Parque Nautico la Laguna, I came to a monument of the main character from the famous Mama Negra Festival (a man dressed as a woman on a horse). The festival is held in Latacunga twice a year. As I got to the lagoon there was another monument of a character from Mama Negra, also on horseback. The lagoon is quite big, you can hire a dinghy and paddle around. The tourist office is located across an arched bridge in the middle of the lagoon, there is also a small kiosk that has maps of the city. Near the park are some markets and a pink church with a big belltower and a shrine "Jesus del Gran Poder" at the bottom. To the west is a monument
Ecuador Photo - Colorful traditional clothing worn by women in Latacunga.
Colorful traditional clothing worn by women in Latacunga.
of Atahualpa (1497-1533) - the last emperor of the Incan Empire.

Street Celebration

At this point a street celebration erupted with a marching band, costumes, colorful dress and religious symbols. I followed the procession for a while taking photos along the way.

Parque la Filantropia

Park Parque la Filantropia, a nice place with trees, palms and flower gardens. The central two-sided monument pays homage to Senora Dona Maria Elvira Campi de Yoder - a local who founded the Red Cross and Rafael Cajiao Enriquez - 5 times Mayor of Latacunga. As I walked back towards the bridge I saw a typical monument of Ecuador in a small park - an indigenous woman sitting down with vegetables to sell. You see these characters everywhere around the country, I love them!

Around the Bridge

Right where the bridge is you will see Church El Salto, there is a lot of activity around here with markets, street vendors, shops and traffic. I could see
Ecuador Photo - Simon Bolivar on his black horse, monument in Latacunga, Plazoleta Simon Bolivar.
Simon Bolivar on his black horse, monument in Latacunga, Plazoleta Simon Bolivar.
in the distance a monument and further up the street another, this is Av. Amazonas. I decided to investigate. The first is a soldier with red hat, blue shirt and white pants holding a flag, next is the angel of the stars on a white horse, thirdly is the captain in a yellow suit and mohawk hat holding a sword, these are all characters from the Mama Negra Festival. At the Cotopaxi Air Base, there is a fighter plane monument and a statue in respect of the pilots.

Church Hunting

The huge white church Iglesia de Santo Domingo - domes, towers, columns. The grey stone brick church Iglesia San Francisco and Plazoleta Simon Bolivar featuring Bolivar on his black horse. Across the road is the shady park Parque San Francisco. Along
Ecuador Photo - Virgen del Calvario, monument at the mirador in Latacunga.
Virgen del Calvario, monument at the mirador in Latacunga.
the cobblestone streets with their colorful buildings is the interesting looking white church Iglesia de la Merced with its intricate designs and shell-like arched doorway. San Sebastian is the next church I found. That's why I say Latacunga is like a mini-Quito, because of all these churches. A walk over the bridge across the Cutuchi River opens up views in the distance of the Cotapaxi Volcano covered in snow.

Bus 2hrs to Quito

I headed 2hrs north to Quito for the night from here (89kms).

Distances Elsewhere

Distances from Latacunga to other places in Ecuador: Pujili 12kms, Saquisili 11kms, Ambato 47kms, Riobamba 99kms, Cuenca 353kms, Loja 588kms, Macas 272kms, Guayaquil 335kms and Puyo 148kms.

     

View all photos in the Latacunga Photoset


Itineraries / Routes: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008



Distances & times (if available) from Latacunga (Ecuador) to:


Map location: Latacunga, Ecuador. Like a mini-Quito with many historical buildings! Latacunga is the place to start the Quilotoa loop, visit Pujili, Saquisili or Machachi!
 A : Pujili - Ecuador 11 kms 11 kms straight distance | 22mins 22mins by car (13 kms) | 26mins 26mins by bus (13 kms) (13 kms)
 B : Saquisili - Ecuador 15 kms 15 kms straight distance | 36mins 36mins by car (22 kms) | 43mins 43mins by bus (22 kms) (22 kms)
 C : Ambato - Ecuador 36 kms 36 kms straight distance | 1hr 7mins 1hr 7mins by car (47 kms) | 1hr 20mins 1hr 20mins by bus (47 kms) (47 kms)
 D : Machachi - Ecuador 46 kms 46 kms straight distance | 54mins 54mins by car (55 kms) | 1hr 4mins 1hr 4mins by bus (55 kms) (55 kms)
 E : Quilotoa Lagoon - Ecuador 36 kms 36 kms straight distance | 1hr 34mins 1hr 34mins by car (78 kms) | 1hr 52mins 1hr 52mins by bus (78 kms) (78 kms)
 F : Banos - Ecuador 55 kms 55 kms straight distance | 1hr 36mins 1hr 36mins by car (82 kms) | 1hr 55mins 1hr 55mins by bus (82 kms) (82 kms)
 G : Riobamba & Colta Lagoon - Ecuador 82 kms 82 kms straight distance | 1hr 52mins 1hr 52mins by car (104 kms) | 2hrs 14mins 2hrs 14mins by bus (104 kms) (104 kms)
 H : Quito - Ecuador 90 kms 90 kms straight distance | 1hr 48mins 1hr 48mins by car (117 kms) | 2hrs 9mins 2hrs 9mins by bus (117 kms) (117 kms)
 I : Mitad del Mundo - Ecuador 104 kms 104 kms straight distance | 2hrs 6mins 2hrs 6mins by car (131 kms) | 2hrs 31mins 2hrs 31mins by bus (131 kms) (131 kms)
 J : Quito Zoo in Guayllabamba - Ecuador 99 kms 99 kms straight distance | 2hrs 1min 2hrs 1min by car (132 kms) | 2hrs 25mins 2hrs 25mins by bus (132 kms) (132 kms)
 K : Puyo - Ecuador 89 kms 89 kms straight distance | 2hrs 47mins 2hrs 47mins by car (140 kms) | 3hrs 20mins 3hrs 20mins by bus (140 kms) (140 kms)
 L : Guaranda - Ecuador 85 kms 85 kms straight distance | 2hrs 36mins 2hrs 36mins by car (144 kms) | 3hrs 7mins 3hrs 7mins by bus (144 kms) (144 kms)
 M : Cayambe - Ecuador 118 kms 118 kms straight distance | 2hrs 43mins 2hrs 43mins by car (168 kms) | 3hrs 15mins 3hrs 15mins by bus (168 kms) (168 kms)
 N : Mindo - Ecuador 99 kms 99 kms straight distance | 3hrs 23mins 3hrs 23mins by car (202 kms) | 4hrs 3mins 4hrs 3mins by bus (202 kms) (202 kms)
 O : Tena - Ecuador 87 kms 87 kms straight distance | 4hrs 7mins 4hrs 7mins by car (222 kms) | 4hrs 56mins 4hrs 56mins by bus (222 kms) (222 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Latacunga, Ecuador:

Hostal Plaza Real, Latacunga, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Plaza Real, Latacunga, Ecuador (July 2015 - 1 night, October 2018 - 1 night) - Cheap and nasty dive near the bridge on the city side. A rent by the hour type of place so people were ringing the bell all through the night. Wifi worked in my room because it was right next to reception but for that I had lots of noise. The rooms upstairs have no wifi signal. Cheap at $8USD but I could never recommend this place for any reason. The bed was uncomfortable and the bathroom sink leaked water on the floor. Spend a few more dollars and sleep somewhere better! I came back and stayed here in 2018 and found it a lot better, must have been the room, this time it was quite a large room on the top floor, the wifi did work and there were no problems with noise, the hostal is located on the street beside the market building and commercial center in Latacunga. I paid $15USD for 2 people.
Hotel Cotopaxi, Latacunga, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hotel Cotopaxi, Latacunga, Ecuador (July 2012 - 2 nights) - This is a nice hotel overlooking the main plaza in Latacunga. I got a great price, something like $20USD per night, all the mod cons are here. It's located in the historical center.
Hostal Pillarenita, Latacunga, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Pillarenita, Latacunga, Ecuador (Jun 2009 - 2 nights) - Nice little rooms with tv on 2nd or 3rd level with street views, shared bathroom, it's opposite the bus terminal for buses for the Quilotoa loop, I stayed here before and after Quilotoa.

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Latacunga, Ecuador - A Mini-Quito With Many Historic Buildings. Like a mini-Quito with many historical buildings! Latacunga is the place to start the Quilotoa loop, visit Pujili, Saquisili or Machachi!

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