A short walk from the neighborhood of Las Herrerías is an outdoor archeology museum with the preserved ruins of an ancient culture, the Cañari. The entire complex is called Pumapungo, a Quichua word which translates to puma (a mountain lion of the Americas) and pungo which means door. The remains of the ancient culture sit atop a hill that overlooks the surrounding mountains, rivers and valley of greater Cuenca. Today, it makes a great place to take pictures of the modern city and to ponder the ancient history that Spanish colonialists did their best to erase.
Looking up at the terraced walls of Pumapungo from the gardens and aqueducts below.

The site was first analyzed by the famous German archealogist, Max Uhle, in the 1920s. He detected several structures including the foundation walls of many buildings, cemeteries, canals, and cobbled pathways. In the early 1980’s and 1990’s, Uhle’s work was confirmed by modern archeologists. They agreed with Uhle that the site was generally religious and included both a palace and a residence of a great leader. The more recent studies have also revealed ancient baths and a mausoleum under Qurikancha, the structure believed to have been religious in nature. The archeologists also found evidence that the buildings were renovated using Incan techniques.

The park is much larger than the ruins themselves. Below the terraced walls is a huge round garden sown with traditional plants both for medicine and for food. It’s possible to walk alongside ancient aqueducts that have been put to modern use. There is a small lake and stream where local children like to play. And tucked in the back is a small menagerie of Ecuadorian birds. Most are from the bright and colorful like parrots and toucans while others are raptors than can no longer survive in the wild.

Local Boys Playing, Pumapungo, Cuenca

The entrance is somewhat difficult to find. You need to go to Calle Larga almost at the corner of Huayna-Capac. There is a large indoor museum, Museo del Banco Central and sometimes also called Museo Pumapungo, with a collection of modern art, colonial religious art, and archealogical treasures. They also have an interesting display of the different cultures of modern Ecuadorians.

In between that building and the bank next door is a small entrance to the park. This entrance is open from 8am until 5:30pm, Tuesday through Friday. You will need to exit the way you entered so plan your walking accordingly! On weekends and holidays, when locals are much more likely to visit, an additional gate on the street 3rd of November is open making it possible to walk through the park. The hours on weekends and holidays are from 10am until 4pm. The park is closed on Mondays. Entrance is free.

Museo Pumapungo

Information For Your Trip

We recommend combining this trip with the Museo del Banco Central indoor collection of the same name.

  • Direction by Car, use WAZE and look for Museo Pumapungo, Calle Larga, Cuenca, Ecuador
  • Direction by Public Transportation Use the Cuenca Bus Map App.