Loja Ecuador

Loja Ecuador offers you a unique combination of moorlands, cloud forests and jungle. It's a great location to Live or Retire.


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In Loja you will experience breathtaking landscapes, Indian markets, the Podocarpus National Park and the famous town of Vilcabamba.

This colonial city is surrounded by the impressive Andes Mountains giving you plenty to marvel at during a walking tour.

The city of Loja stands 6,724 feet above sea level, with an average temperature of 60 to 69 Fahrenheit.

Loja Ecuador has a population of approximately 150,000, the city has an active cultural life, and has several universities.

Loja is crossed by two rivers: Malacatos and Zamora, which give a unique personality to the city. It is one of the cleanest and safest cities in Ecuador.

The city has streets, plazas, churches and monasteries of the colonial era, such as the Cathedral and the Santo Domingo, San Francisco and San Sebastian churches.

Most of the people in Loja are extremely religious. It is common to find religious processions at the Main Plaza, or sometimes even popular bands and fireworks.

The people from Loja are especially devoted to the Virgen del Cisne (Virgin of the Swan), a sculpture of the Ecuadorian Diego de Robles artist (XVI C), which is kept at the Cathedral for a long period of the year.

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Loja Ecuador is recognized as being a friendly and pleasant city. This was demonstrated when Loja, both the provincial capital and one of the oldest cities in Ecuador, won a community involvement award in 2001 in recognition of the communities ongoing effort to support and to protect the environment.

Loja is also famous for its musicians. The city has a number of important music academies including the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica, house of the most influent musicians in Ecuador.

The city is commonly referred to as the musical capital of Ecuador.

Loja Ecuador History

The city of Loja was initially founded in the valley of Catamayo, an area now occupied by the La Toma airport.

Loja was moved from this valley to its current location due to a high incidence of malaria and a devastating earthquake.

The city was rebuilt in the majestic green mountains of the southern Andes several years after its destruction and was officially founded on December 8th, 1548 by Spanish Captain Alonso de Mercadillo.

At nearly 500 years, Loja is one of the oldest cities in Ecuador. Its age is evident in its rich colonial architecture, narrow streets, and in the remaining 18th century homes.

In addition to being one of the first Ecuadorian cities, Loja is also one of the nation's most pioneering. In 1897, Loja became the first city in Ecuador to use electric energy, catapulting the country into the Age of Electricity.

Since then, careful industrialization and modernization has allowed Loja Ecuador to retain its charm. Loja is a prime example of smart economic development.

Its inhabitants have managed to succeed financially without destroying their cultural heritage and natural resources. This is exemplified in the conscious construction of buildings designed to harmonize with older ones.

The city's effort to preserve its architecture and colonial roots represents a forward thinking approach to development.

Loja Ecuador Attractions

Puertas de La Ciudad: The newly constructed "Gates of the City" serve as a welcome entrance to Loja.

The architecture is convincingly historic and blends with the rest of the city. The myriad lights of this area make for an excellent evening stroll.

Lourdes Street: A stroll through this street sets you in an old colonial city, especially between Bolivar and Sucre streets.

You can observe the well preserved wooden balconies, interior patios, cobble stoned streets and stop by at the small shops where you'll find beautiful handicrafts.

Main Square: The buildings of the main civil and ecclesiastic authorities: the Province and City Governments, the Episcopal House and the Cathedral surround the plaza.

Although the original architecture of most of these buildings has been modified, they still portray a taste of the Spanish legacy.

Virgen del Cisne: Is a statue of the Virgin Mary famous throughout Ecuador. The "Virgen" resides in the Gothic church of El Cisne.

Twice a year, there are thousands of devout Catholics from Peru and Ecuador that make a 70 kilometer pilgrimage from the city of El Cisne to Loja Ecuador and back with the Statue on their shoulders.

This religious festival is celebrated with huge parades and a culminating produce fair in Loja Ecuador on September 8th.

During this time "La Virgen" is housed in the Cathedral of Loja, until November when it is carried back to El Cisne.

Central Bank Museum: It holds an archaeological display of the Macara and Catamayo Indian cultures, religious art of the XVIII Century, an ethnographic exhibit on the Saraguro Indiands, and a small display on the history and uses of the quinina plant.

Parque Jipiro: It's a park for all ages, with its freely roaming animals, and a wide variety of sport and leisure activities.

Jipiro also has unique architectural replicas paying tribute to multiple cultures and hosts musical productions on an Island in the center of the park's lagoon.

Museo de la Musica: This museum displays musical instruments, notes, pictures and awards of nationally famous musicians from Loja Ecuador.

Malacatos Valley: Located south of the city, the charming Malacatos town holds colorful wooden houses that surround a main square where live music is played every Sunday.

In this town you can visit a sugar cane. You can observe the workers throughout the whole process of elaboration of sugar scraping, using the same machinery that has been used for generations.

On the way to Vilcabamba, you can observe a hill in the shape of a sleeping Inca Indian. This hill is called Mandango, and is believed to have been sacred for the Incas.

Vilcabamba Valley: This charming valley (at 4,921 ft.) located approximately 1 hour south from Loja Ecuador has become a favorite spot for tourists, especially young adventurers on their way to or from Peru.

The name Vilcabamba or Huilcopamba means "Sacred Valley" in the indigenous tongue Quichua. This site was reserved by the Incas for the main noble authorities, as it is a peaceful and quiet place.

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Perhaps this tranquility is the reason for the old age Vilcabamba's inhabitants. It is common to find healthy people of over 100 years of age that live here and still work in agriculture.

Many investigations have been made to determine the reason for the longevity of Vilcabamba's inhabitants by doctors from Japan, the U.S. and Ecuador.

Some factors have been identified: spring-like weather all year round, a water rich in minerals, a diet low in fat and high in fiber and magnesium, the peacefulness of the valley and the physical activity.

From Vilcabamba you can arrange horse and bicycle excursions throughout the valley or in the nearby access to the Podocarpus National Park.

Podocarpus National Park: This National Park is located 11 miles South of Loja Ecuador. The park was named after a tree specie commonly known as "Podocarpus Montanus".

This is a gigantic Coniferous that has adapted to the tropical Andean forests. These trees can reach a height of 131 ft. and live up to 1.000 years.

The Podocarpus are in danger of extinction because of the over exploitation of their valuable wood. Now they can be found at the Sabanilla region nearby Loja City and at the Podocarpus National Park.

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