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ADDRESS & ACTIVITIES
ADDRESS OR VENUE
OPENING HOURS (or DATE if it is an event)
Luis Cordero and Mariscal Sucre streets, Cuenca City, Ecuador
Monday to Friday 09:00 - 17:30
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 09:00 - 13:00
ATTENDING RELIGIOUS EVENTS
ATTENDING ARTISTIC EVENTS
The Old Cathedral or Iglesia del Sagrario is an emblematic building in the Historic Center that marks the south-east corner of Calderon Park. It is considered to be the oldest building in Cuenca. The church was planned since the very moment of the city’s foundation in 1557, when the original layout designated a block of land to build it. Its foundations were built with carved stones from the Cañari-Inca city of Tomebamba.
Some milestones are part of the history of this church. For example, the building work took three and a half centuries, between extensions, adaptations and ornamentation works, always counting on the contribution of the city's inhabitants. It was finished in 1924, with the mural painting of the artist Nicolás Vivar. Another important event occurred in the 18th century, when the French Geodesic Mission of 1736 used the church’s old tower to measure the arc of the earth's meridian. A commemorative plaque, attributed to the Colombian sage Caldas, says "Tower more famous than the pyramids of Egypt", in reference to the Geodesic Mission. The first public clock was installed in the bell tower overlooking Sucre Street in 1751. And the first bellows organ in the city, which still exists today, was mounted in the church choir in 1739.
Another very singular fact is that Cuenca is one of the few cities in Ecuador, if not the only one, that has two cathedrals one in front of the other: The New or Immaculate Cathedral and the Old Cathedral.
For some decades the Old Cathedral stopped being used for regular religious services and after its most recent renovation in 1999, it became a Museum of Religious Art and a place for concerts and cultural events. Its art collection includes sculptures by Miguel Vélez and Gaspar Sangurima and paintings by Daniel Alvarado, Nicólas Henriquez and Rafael Vivar.
In addition, it is possible to admire the original model of the New Cathedral, work of Juan Baustista Stiehle, exposed in one of the chapels of the Church and through an archaeological window it is possible to observe the ossuary in the subsoil of the temple. In the house of the canons there is a permanent exhibition of old photographs of Cuenca. The Old Cathedral offers guided tour service for visitors.