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CONVENT AND CHURCH
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ADDRESS & ACTIVITIES
ADDRESS OR VENUE
OPENING HOURS (or DATE if it is an event)
Sucre and Padre Aguirre streets, Cuenca City, Ecuador
Cloister, open for visits only with special permission
Wood-turning lathe and sale of medicinal products: 07:00 - 19:00, Monday to Friday
Mass schedule in the church: Monday to Friday 07:00 - 11:00. Sundays: 17:00
ATTENDING RELIGIOUS EVENTS
The facade of the Cloister and Church of Carmen de La Asunción is one of the most interesting places in the Historical Centre of Cuenca (World Heritage Site by UNESCO), due to the colorful images it generates together with the Flowers’ Market.
The order of nuns of El Carmen or "Carmelitas Descalzas" (Barefoot Carmelitas) was established in the city of Cuenca in the year 1682. The Monastery occupies the inside of the block opposite where the New Cathedral stands today.
The most representative feature of this cloistered monastery is the wood-turning lathe, which is fitted into a hole in the wall next to the entrance door to the convent. It is used to pass objects from the outside to the inside and vice versa, without the people who give or receive them being seen. In other words, the lathe is an intermediary object between the cloister and the outside world, the means of communication between the contemplative and profane life. A few steps away from the wheel is a picture of the "Lord of Justice", which the Catholic faithful use to ask for divine intervention when they believe that earthly justice has failed them.
People come to the wood-turning lathe to ask for spiritual advice. On the lintel of the entrance door to the monastery one can read "This is God's house and the door to heaven".
People also go to the wood-turning lathe or to the humble shops next to the entrance of the house, in search of artisan products made by the Carmelites with medicinal plants and flowers, which they cultivate in the gardens of the cloister. They have a natural apothecary's shop. The "agua de pítimas" is the most popular. After drinking it people ask for a "piti más" or a little bit more. Other products are: red, white, blackberry and passion fruit wine, radish syrup, multivitamin syrup, lotion for muscle aches, pigeon jelly, lemon cream, cakes and snacks.
The convent houses mural paintings, the most important in Cuenca and one of the most outstanding in America, sculptures and an enormous cliff or birthplace of Jesus. It is an authentic museum of religious art. The Carmelites are in charge of preserving the image of the "Traveler Child ", a sculpture of the newborn Jesus, and they also embroider his clothes by hand. This representation of Jesus Christ as a child presides every year, on December 24th, over the Pase Mayor or "Parade of the Traveler Child".
The construction of the Church of Carmen began in 1727. It has a portal with Solomonic columns. It is small, with only one nave.