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PARK AND CHURCH
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ADDRESS & ACTIVITIES
ADDRESS OR VENUE
OPENING HOURS (or DATE if it is an event)
Simón Bolívar and Coronel Tálbot streets, Cuenca City, Ecuador
Open every day
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The church and square of San Sebastian constitute the western limit of the Historical Center of Cuenca (World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO). They are the main points of the historic neighborhood of the same name, in the urban parish of San Sebastian.
The San Sebastian neighborhood is traditionally full of popular trades: pottery, tailoring, carpentry, tile-making, buttonhole making, painting. Tourism has a remarkable development with hotels, restaurants and cafeterias installed in heritage houses. The charm of its church, the park and an intense cultural life due to the presence of the Museum of Modern Art are the main attractions. There are craft workshops such as the embossing workshop of the master Carlos Bustos, several craft shops and bakeries. Recently, in a corner of the park, there is a restaurant owned by a Cuenca-Belgian couple that offers beer produced in the town.
Every year, on December 24th, the "Pase del Nino Viajero" (The Traveler Baby Jesus), a traditional parade celebrating the birth of Jesus, starts from San Sebastian.
The church, on the outside, has a single tower that dominates the facade. This is an unusual feature in religious architecture. Its main door is made of carved wood, with reliefs of the Bible's testaments. A large dome also stands out in the structure of the church. The interior of the Catholic temple is divided into three naves, separated by wooden columns. The space is quite sober, without as much detail or decoration as in other similar buildings in the city of Cuenca. On the corner of a small square in front of the temple's facade, at the intersection of Calle Bolívar and Calle Coronel Tálbot, stands the Cross of San Sebastián. Formerly this cross was the mark of the end of the city and the departure point towards the west.
There are news of the church and its corresponding sector since the first years of Cuenca's foundation. It was a hermitage or small church of Fabián and Sebastián, saints and martyrs. As the centuries passed, the name of Fabián was abandoned, leaving San Sebastián as a traditional "Indian parish". Racial and social separation established by the Spanish colonizers to name a place that concentrated humble but necessary trades for daily life.
The San Sebastian park is located next to the church. It has an ornamental pool and an interesting variety of trees and plants. The park is ideal for short walks, to rest and breathe fresh air. In its centre is the bust of the poet Miguel Moreno. In front of the park, on the opposite side of the church, is the Museum of Modern Art.
Two historical events took place in San Sebastian Park. The first was the murder of the doctor Juan Seniergues, a member of the French Geodesic Mission (a scientific mission to measure Earth’s circumference), in 1739, during a bullfight. The second event are the first football matches in Cuenca, which were played there at the beginning of the 20th century. The geometric layout of the square, which has Renaissance influence with parterre gardens in the Versailles style, is attributed to Octavio Cordero Palacios.