Rivers and mountains. Colonial architecture and countless parks. 52 churches and international cuisine. Cuenca, also known as Santa Ana de los Cuatro Rios, is one of the most beautiful cities in Ecuador. Cuenca is located in the Sierra, or Highlands– the southern, mid region of the country. The Andes Mountains loom over the city, and El Cajas, one of the most impressive national parks of South America, is only 45 minutes away. Living in Cuenca is a combination of the traditional and the international. Over the last ten years, the city has attracted lots of backpackers, travelers and foreigners who have come to the city for a visit and found themselves staying for months, if not years. With the influx of international communities come many of the amenities of the United States or other developed countries– you can find numerous coffee shops and restaurants with international cuisine like Pad Thai, Vietnamese Pho, and Belgian Fries. But don’t let the international presence fool you; Cuenca remains a very traditional Ecuadorian city. Indigenous men and women from the neighboring small towns come into Cuenca each day to sell fruits, vegetables, rabbits, chickens, and even guinea pigs (a local cuisine) in the markets.