|Azogues is the provincial capital of Cañar with a cathedral on the main square and the even larger San Francisco church high up on the hillside overlooking the city. Altitude and religious devotion apart, it has the feel of an unremarkable English market town as cars and pedestrians crowd into the narrow streets that weren’t really designed for traffic, where you can find a few attractive, older buildings amongst a lot of uglier, newer ones.
There is not really much to see in this city but if you are passing through on a Saturday it is worth stopping to visit the market just below the San Francisco church, full of fresh vegetables, fritada and women in white hats. From there you can climb up the final steps to attend Mass with the many devout church-goers who all seem to hang on for confession afterwards.
Azogues has quite an interesting history. It was first settled by the Peleusi tribe, related to the Cañari. Azogue is related to mercury and so when the Spanish founded San Francisco de Peleusi de Azogues in 1562 they set about exploiting the mineral with mita labour.
The San Francisco church is also known as the Santuario de la Virgen de la Nube in celebration of a procession in 1699 in Quito to pray for the health of an ill cardinal. Dark clouds covered the model of the Virgin Mary and after they cleared the cardinal made a complete recovery.
Azogues was also the scene of the Battle of Verdeloma, fought for independence from Spain on 4 November 1822.
Where to Stay and Eat
You can find a few modest hotels and restaurants in the streets around the main square.
The bus station is near the Panamericana from where it is quite a long climb uphill to the city centre. Buses for Cuenca pass very regularly. Buses for Guayaquil go north through Cañar and take the road down to the coast from Zhud.