Latacunga City, the land of the Black Mama
It is the capital of the province of Cotopaxi, in addition to being the administration center, it brings together a large population of the entire province, the activity of the city has always been linked with the collection and commercial sale of agricultural production, it is said that in the past, the city was the most important mill in Ecuador for its production of many sorts of plants. The economic activity of the land of the Black Mama, changed a lot in when the florists were installed in the surroundings and also with the settlement of other industries, the population explosion in the area increased.
It is known as "Latacunga, Garden of the Andes", “Romantic Latacunga", “City of the Lion", "The city of Mashcas". It was placed among the most important cities of the Ecuadorian highlands. All the historical, architectural and cultural assets that Latacunga possesses have allowed it to be considered as a Patrimonial City of the Nation.
An important number of floricultural industries are located around the city, this has energized its economy making it the economic engine and currency generator of the center highlands, in addition, Latacunga has a limestone and cement mining industry, light and heavy metallurgical industries, agribusiness, dairy and livestock industry.
The name of Latacunga probably comes from the Quichua words "llacata kunka" which means god of the lagoons.
Latacunga, patrimonial city and endless adventure
Touring Latacunga was not among my travel plans, when you are planning an exit you are looking for the best known places, but this time my decision was based on the experience of a friend, and it was motivating. I decided to venture into the city known as the “Land of the Mashcas” What did I expect? I did not imagine it, but without hesitation I now tell you that Latacunga is a destination with infinite activities that give you the opportunity to visit this site and discover countless stories at every step.
To discover the capital of Cotopaxi, is to find colonial streets, heritage churches, contemporary architecture, enlivened with religious art and traditional festivals. While entering one goes through a well-distributed space, its parks, mansions, churches and more are placed in an orderly manner, as mentioned by Paúl García, a local historian, this space has a “dameral layout like a checkerboard, with republican constructions and colonial of the nineteenth century, which have allowed it to be recognized as a Cultural Heritage of Ecuador”.
Tourist farms with countless secrets
This city is positioned as an important space with amazing haciendas and mansions, which keep legends, traditions and stand out for the countless historical processes representative for Ecuador, at different times.
Upon entering the Hacienda La Ciénega, that is more than 400 years old, an army of eucalyptus trees welcomes visitors. You must walk along this long path to contemplate the majesty and impossibility of these trees that were brought to drain the water of this area, being the main reason to bear his name, the swamp.
The mansion has become a luxury boutique hotel, offering visitors a unique experience. Staying within its walls of volcanic stone two meters thick, corridors, courtyards, chapel and rest rooms, is a harmonious act.
Here I was invaded by questions about how real are stories told here about spirits and supernatural energies that haunt the halls. I walked very slowly through its planked floors and looked around as if looking to find a ghost, but I did not succeed.
Gabriela, a local worker, told us that when she first arrived at this hacienda she was greeted by a dense fog that completely covered the place, giving a similarity to the castle of Count Dracula, something mysterious and a bit dismal.
With laughter she tells us that the first days in this hacienda, those supernatural energies bothered her a little, and while she was doing her activities the dining room lights went on, Gabriela returned and turned off the lights, for the second time they were turned on, once again she turned off the lights, and suddenly an icy cold feeling ran through her body, a graveyard air invaded her, although it was only once, she was very afraid, but as the days went by it disappeared. True or not, you must arrive at this place, and live these life experiences, in our step we do not find the bride who walks the halls, but if we listen to dazzling stories, they will make you enjoy this space.
Our next stop is the Hacienda San Agustín de Callo, near the Cotopaxi National Park. This tourist scenario is built on the remains of an Incatambo (Inca Structure), considered a resting place for the Incas. It is impressive to discover in this space constructions made on volcanic stone, in the form of pads and with a trapezoidal structure. The cold of Latacunga is genuine, however, in San Agustín de Callo you will receive it with a canelazo, a hot drink with naranjilla, cinnamon and a little alcohol, to warm the soul.
And if you want to share a space with llamas, which are mammals of the Andean region, I recommend you visit this place, here you will feed these animals with carrots, their deep eyes will impact and disturb you, but the experience is unforgettable.
If you are about to get married, do not hesitate to visit these estates that offer you multiple options to celebrate this special date in #EcuadorLoveDestination.
Dazzling architectural constructions in Latacunga
Arriving to the historic center of Latacunga is to marvel at centuries-old buildings and majestic churches with colonial features that add an atmosphere of charm. Its narrow cobbled streets do not depart from the tourist's eyes and cause impressive sensations of being back in the past. At night, the lights illuminate these constructions making them even more attractive for cameras.
Travel with family and enjoy a cultural tourism with walks and tours of the architectural spaces of this city, which rise from the Spanish conquest such as the Cathedral Churches, San Francisco, San Felipe, La Merced, b, Santo Sunday, the Pedro Vicente León Park, the El Salto Sanctuary, the Governorate, the Municipal Palace, the Isidro Ayora Museum, the Hermanas Páez Hospital, the La Laguna Nautical Park, and more.
Flavors of the cold land: gastronomy in Latacunga
Your palates will be ecstatic with so many flavors and aromas. This cold land offers you the best chugchucara of Ecuador so we visited the restaurant ‘The Old Tradition of Latacunga’. In this place we tried to enter the kitchen to discover its secrets, we did couldn’t, but we did know the preparation, and I can tell you that the food is prepared at the moment, from the pan to the table. This dish is made up of fried pork, dried maize, french fries, ripe fried plantain, empanadas, pop corn and busted pork leather accompanied by a rich tomato pepper. A legacy that the city has taken for its seasoning and culinary tradition, which passes from generation to generation. I have nothing left to say ... delicious!
Another of the culinary wonders are allullas, made with wheat flour cooked with lard and eggs, a traditional recipe of peasant and Spanish cuisine. This is possible to be served at any time, however, the Mashcas (Latacunga locals) take it in the afternoon with coffee, in the company of family and friends; do not forget the rich cheese of leaf, a charm to the palate. Its name is due to the maceration of the dairy with the achira leaf, unmatched taste of quality.
And if you believe that this is not enough, a treat will sweeten your palate, in the Panamerican north 16 km via Quito, I tasted the rich ice cream of the Avelina, which are pasted made of pure pasteurized milk brought from the cattle ranch of Lasso. Here do not hesitate to purchase a souvenir made in totora, ceramics and mud. Also, you will find pots, pots, piggy banks, ornaments and crockery, at very affordable prices.
An adventure in the Andean moorland
The adventure is based on healthy recreation combined with community tourism, and is part of what Latacunga offers to tourists. Touring the beauty of the Chalupas volcano; horseback riding to the Quilindaña lagoon; ascent to the hill Morro that includes sport fishing, camping; and of course, walk to the Chorrera of San Francisco, all this and more is what the residents of the Tejar Miraflores Association, offer. It is located in parish of Aláquez, 30 km away from the city.
Our adventure was on a cold day, and the moor opened its frozen arms, but this was not an impediment for staring at this impressive attraction.
A sunfo tea sheltered us on this journey, they will ask what it tastes like, and I will answer, that it has a sweet taste that simply shelters you. The ride and walk to the Quilindaña lagoon was an unforgettable adventure, it is important to remind you that you must go warm.
In this land, animal conservation and protection spaces have been developed. Agrinag, a non-profit organization, seeks to educate in care and conservation issues, do not hesitate to visit this site and learn about the rescued species.
And if these attractions have impressed you, let me tell you that the Black Mama Festival awaits you in the first week of November, the holiday shows the syncretism of indigenous peoples and Spanish culture. The streets are filled with music, joy, folk dances and more cultural activities, which we invite you to live in this city that has a unique tourist charm.
After a long tour, I can say, it was a good choice. This city must be a mandatory stop for everyone, because its tourist, heritage, cultural and historical wealth is undeniable. Do not fear the cold, since in every corner they will offer you a coat and a good drink that will make you feel warm at all times.
Latacunga was founded in 1534, with the name of Seat of San Vicente Mártir de Latacunga. In 1539, Gonzalo Pizarro, increased the number of settlers and then the final and official foundation was made by Captain Antonio Clavijo in 1584, with the title of Corregimiento.
The climate of the city of Latacunga is usually between warm and temperate. The city has an abundant amount of rain during the year. This does not change even in the driest month. The temperature in Latacunga is 13.4 ° C on average. Therefore, during the afternoon, a warm coat will protect you from the cold and rain that arrives without warning.
Gastronomy of Latacunga
- The "Chugchucaras": When passing through this beautiful city you can not forget to taste the CHUGCHUCARAS that mean “Trembling Leather”, this typical dish of this part of the Ecuadorian highlands, carries pork and goes with all the already known companions, Among them: the fry (pork meat), ripe fried plantain, cooked potatoes and empanadas with cheese, fried in very large bronze pails, you can also try 3 types of corn such as: roasted, canguil and mote accompanied with pork rinds, together with the rich chili pepper; and to drink you can order a delicious glass of chicha.
- The "Allullas": In the morning, in the afternoon or at night, if you are passing through Latacunga, you should taste the delicious ALLULLAS that are slightly crunchy salt loaves prepared with lard, wheat flour and water. You can taste this snack accompanied by a leaf cheese, which is made of several layers of kneaded cheese and especially tender cheese that is wrapped in small achira leaves, traditional sandwiches prepared in this city.
- Machica: The citizens of Latacunga are called Mashcas, the name envelope is due to the production and consumption of barley in the area, this flour is the basis for making the machica, a ground barley grain powder that before being crushed , it is roasted in large pots made of clay and with firewood as in the past to preserve the secret of flavor. This also prepares the CHAPO, it is the mixture of barley flour with: cream, chocolate, milk, or aromatic water, if you go to Latacunga you cannot stay with the desire to try it.
Culture and traditions of Latacunga
In Latacunga the traditional popular festivities are celebrated very happily, celebrations very listened to nationwide, some of its most important parties are:
- Mama Negra: This celebration takes place again in the month of November for the Latacunga festivities. As it is known, this tradition is ancient and dates from the 18th century, it represents the union of native culture and Spanish settlers. The party revolves around a character that is the Black Mama, it is characteristic to see her carry her daughter in her arms, the same one that makes her dance to the music and shows her to all the spectators that make her a street of honor. In addition there are characters such as the Moorish King, the Angel of the Star, the Captain, the Setters, the Flag Bearer, the Guacos, the famous Asangueros who carry an offering that exceeds their strength but symbolizes the thrust and determination of those who parade, the Loedos , the Guiadores and the Camisonas. All these are part of the colorful and cheerful parade that spreads its own energy and strangers who attend every year.
- Dances of the Innocent: If you go to this holiday you will find a lot of dancing, colorful costumes, masquerades, typical food. It takes place from December 28 to January 6 at Vicente León Park.
- Virgen de las Mercedes Festival: You can see a preview of what will be the Black Mama that year, a parade with masquerades, religious procession, village bands, fireworks, mass of rooster.
- San Isidro Labrador Bullfighting Fair: It is the world-famous bullfighting fair of the Ecuadorian highlands, it takes place at the end of November in the San Isidro bullring, it is known that in this place full of history some of the best bullfighters of the world have been presented.
- Carnival Festivities: In the carnival festivities, the city of Latacunga organizes several parades such as "The Carnival of the Roses" and "The Mashcarnaval", also performs many artistic and cultural events to cheer the locals and the tourists that arrive in many places of the country.
History of Latacunga
Spanish foundation: October 27, 1584
independence: November 11, 1820
The foundation of the city of Latacunga dated back to the 16th century and involves its social change until it became a canton, from being a corregimiento to becoming a village and finally transformed into the provincial capital of Cotopaxi. In colonial times, the old town of Latacunga had great relevance and importance at an economic and political level by the famous marquesados who were located near the town, those Spanish noble houses would take great importance during the independence period of Ecuador by strongly supporting the process of liberation of the Spanish crown.
The Latacunga Cantom has an area of (1,506 km2), distributed in its five urban and ten rural parishes.
- North: Province of Pichincha and Sigchos Canton
- South: Salcedo and Pujilí Cantons
- East: Napo Province
- West: Sigchos, Pujilí and Saquisilí Cantons
The weather in Latacunga can vary from very humid temperate, to dry at different times of the year. It is also located at 2750 meters above sea level, which determines a mild climate.
In general, the province has an average annual temperature of 11 ° C, so it has a mild to cold climate.
Urban parishes of Latacunga
Latacunga has urban and rural parishes and are represented by the Parish Boards as part of the Municipality of Latacunga:
- La Matriz
- Eloy Alfaro (San Felipe)
- Ignacio Flores (La Laguna)
- Juan Montalvo (San Sebastian)
- San Buenaventura
- Rural parishes
- San Juan de Pastocalle
- November eleventh
- Belisario Quevedo
- Joseguango Bajo
How to get to Latacunga?
Take the Pan American Highway either in your own car or in buses from the city of Quito. To do this you must first arrive at the Quitumbe terminal.
- Latacunga Cathedral: Its construction dates back to mid 17th century with a large nave and cruise with octagonal dome in a very Romanesque style. At the end of the 19th century, the construction of the tower of Romanesque arches and an Islamic finish were completed. On the pumice stone altar you can see pieces of the imagery of the Colony. It is located on the streets Quito and General Maldonado.
- El Salto: Structured by a ship and the twin towers, located from north to south, it was built at the end of the 19th century and completely finished in the middle of the 20th century. It is located between the streets: Juan Abel Echeverría and Antonio Clavijo, next to the Plaza de El Salto.
- La Merced: In its beginnings it was a chapel until 1640; It is structured on a Latin Cross plane, and has a ship with two cruises, enhances an imposing dome. In 1949, due to the Ambato earthquake, the tower fell in front of the main gate, after the incident it was rebuilt again, but lost its original configuration. It is located between the streets: Juan Abel Echeverría, and Quijano and Ordóñez.
- San Agustín Church: With a marked neoclassical tendency, it shows its circular columns with Ionic capital and a cornice finish. In the year of 1820, the convent was occupied by the Spanish military force, being an improvised barracks of a fraction of the Battalion "Los Andes". It is located between Páez and Quito streets.
- San Francisco Church: Its construction begun in 1600 and ended in 1693, although in 1698 the church was destroyed by an earthquake. It is located in General Manuel Maldonado and Quijano and Ordonez.
- San Sebastián: It is located on Josefa Calixto Street, between San Bartolomé Island and Juan Echeverría.
- Santo Domingo Church: It can be found in Guayaquil Street and Fernando Sánchez de Orellana, it has a convent that bears the same name.
- San Buenaventura: It is located in the Downtown District of San Buenaventura Parish, 5 minutes north of La Cocha Stadium. Traditional city church and home of its patron saint Dr. Buenaventura.