Loja, also known as the Castilian City, is the capital of the province that bears the same name located in southern Ecuador in the Andes mountain range. This beautiful city is known for its cultural heritage, its natural and architectural beauty inherited from the Spanish colonial era.
- Top 10 tourist places to visit in Loja:
- 1. Loja City Gate
- 2. Central Park Square
- 3. Botanical Garden
- 4. Loja Cathedral
- 5. Lourdes Street
- 6. Malacatos River
- 7. Jipiro Recreational Park
- 8. Museum of History and Culture Lojanas (Central Bank)
- 9. Villonaco Wind Park
- 10. Simon Bolivar Park
- 11. Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Swan
- 12. Music Museum
- 13. Museum of Lojana Culture
- 14. Teleferico viewpoint
- Places to visit near Loja
Top 10 tourist places to visit in Loja:
1. Loja City Gate
Loja is the only city in Ecuador that has a city gate. This gate is a castle-shaped building, built in the late 1990s. Here you will find a small museum, four galleries displaying the most beautiful local artwork, a cafe, and various metal sculptures such as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
You can climb up the clock tower (from Monday to Friday) and enjoy an extraordinary panoramic view of the entire city of Loja.
2. Central Park Square
Parque Central is a very beautiful square with gardens decorated with a variety of roses, historical monuments of great importance and some of the most important historical buildings in the city. The park is home to the Cathedral, the Museum of Music, and the Museum of Religious Artifacts.
3. Botanical Garden
Outside the city of Loja you will find the botanical garden of the University of Loja, also known as the Reinaldo Espinoza Botanical Garden. It is the oldest Botanical Garden in Ecuador, founded in 1949. Here you will find native trees and plants in an area of around 7 hectares; as well as a great variety of orchids, a collection of bonsai, a collection of medicinal plants and a small labyrinth.
4. Loja Cathedral
The Cathedral of Loja is located in the Central Plaza of Loja and has an eclectic style, since its façade was restored during three different periods. The Cathedral was built in 1820, but earthquakes caused massive destruction to the building for which it had to be rebuilt in 1838 and was restored again in 1990 by fine arts students from the Technical University of Loja.
Inside the cathedral there is a statue of the Virgin of the Swan made of wood and gold glitter.
5. Lourdes Street
Lourdes street is the narrowest street in Loja. It is undoubtedly a tourist attraction in Loja that you must visit since it is full of picturesque and colorful Spanish colonial houses. Here you will find craft shops, galleries, restaurants, among other places of interest.
6. Malacatos River
The Malacatos River runs through the city of Loja and has trails where you can go hiking, biking and enjoy its beauty.
7. Jipiro Recreational Park
The Jipiro Recreational Theme Park is 10 hectares with a zoo, a small lagoon and several attractive monuments that represent different cultures and countries around the world are located. These include The Arab mosque, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, a Chinese pagoda, a Euro-Latin castle, a Shuar hut, and other buildings of interest.
The park has volleyball and basketball courts, a giant chess board, a skate park, a pond with pedal boats and a heated swimming pool. Other activities you can do are hiking, renting bicycles, horseback riding, and row boat rides.
8. Museum of History and Culture Lojanas (Central Bank)
The Central Bank museum is one of the main tourist attractions of the city of Loja, where you will find archaeological, ethnographic, colonial art and contemporary art pieces that will explain the history of Loja. The park is located near Central Park. The museum is open from 8AM to 5PM from Monday to Friday and from 1AM to 4PM on Saturday and Sunday.
9. Villonaco Wind Park
The Villonaco wind farm has 11 wind turbines with a height of 100 meters which can be observed from anywhere in the city. It is the first wind farm project in the country, thanks to which Loja is considered an eco-friendly city.
10. Simon Bolivar Park
The Simón Bolívar Park was built as a tribute to the Itamaraty Binational Peace Treaty, signed on October 26, 1999, at the Itamaraty Palace in Brazil, marking the end of the Cenepa War between Ecuador and Peru. This park is a small space that opens to mark the entrance to the center from the University Avenue, the Simón Bolívar park is perfect for walking and relaxing without having to go far from the center.
11. Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Swan
Just 75 kilometers from Loja is the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Cisne. This neo-Gothic sanctuary is home to the image of Our Lady of El Cisne, “La Churonita”, which is carved in cedar by the famous sculptor of the Quito school Diego de Robles.
Every August 15th, thousands of devotees carry the Virgin on their shoulders to the city of Loja in a long pilgrimage, as an offering to their requests and miracles, and every November 1st they return her to the city of El Cisne in a new procession.
12. Music Museum
The museum exhibits the lives of various Lojan musicians as well as ancient and modern instruments. In the museum you will find pianos, guitars, trumpets, and various other musical instruments as well as works of art.
13. Museum of Lojana Culture
The Museum of Culture is located near the Central Park. This beautiful museum is in a beautiful building from the republican era. Here you can find various exhibits ranging from city art, archeology, and even ethnography. Be sure to see the photographs that show what Loja was like in the past.
14. Teleferico viewpoint
You cannot leave Loja without visiting its cable car located in the Pucará Park. Do not walk on the trail but hop on the cable car, as we were told that there have been robberies that happen on the trail.
Places to visit near Loja
Saraguro is located just one hour from Loja on the slopes of Cerro Puglla. It is one of the most interesting destinations in the province of Loja given that this town still keeps the indigenous ancestral traditions and culture.
In Saraguro you can visit the El Baño del Inca waterfall (archaeological ruins, petroglyphs) and the lagoons of Cocha del Puglla, Culquiyacu, Yúluc, el Mueto and el Corral.
Podocarpus National Park
The Podocarpus National Park, also known as the Botanical Garden of America, is one of the most beautiful national parks in Ecuador given that it has one of the greatest biodiversity in the world. world. Here you can find more than 550 species of birds ( 40% of the country’s birds ) among other animals such as reptiles and mammals. The park has several trails such as the Lagunas del Compadre, the Spectacled Bear and the Lookouts.
Vilcabamba located in the valley of the same name is located just 45 kilometers from Loja and 10 minutes from Malacatos. The city is famous for the natural beauty that surrounds it, its colorful center and for having inhabitants who live to more than 100 years old. The most popular hill in the area is the Cerro de Mandago and the sleeping Inca.
The Valley of Catamayo is the viewpoint of the Cross, the cave of Chiriguana (devil’s cave) and the Tunnel of Chicaca.
In the Valley of Casanga the city of Catacocha is located high in the mountains and is surrounded by the hills of Pisaca, Pisaquilla and Pisaquita.
The most famous attraction of Catacocha is the Shiriculapo rock, also known as the Balcón del Inca natural viewpoint, where you can see fantastic views of the entire region. Other viewpoints in the area: Chininuma and La Quinta.