Although Guayaquil is the biggest and richest city in Ecuador, the cultural heart of the country lies inland, in the mountains. The country is split down the middle by two parallel mountain ranges about 80km apart and peppered with still-active volcanoes, creating a long, high valley nicknamed the Avenida de los Volcanos (Volcano Alley). It is this valley that is home to the iconic peaks of Cotopaxi and Chimborazo (the latter's peak being the furthest point from the centre of the earth thanks to the equatorial bulge) as well as the cultural poles of Quito in the north and Cuenca in the south. The Incas also mainly stayed there when they came conquering through*, as they were not big fans of the lowlands.
|The iconic domes of Cuenca's cathedral dominate the city's skyline.|