If you're in Cuenca, then you can't help but notice the white church that sits south at the top of the mountain in the city of Turi. A trip to Turi is a popular one even though there's not a lot to do.
A simple taxi ride to the top will cost you about $2.00 or take one of the double-decker bus tours in town which stops in Turi. Once there, the church is beautiful and worth a look if it's open. Across the street from the church, you can walk up the stairs to see the altars and visit the cave. From the lookout in Turi, you'll get the best panoramic view of Cuenca. You will know how Cuenca got its name as it's very easy to see that the city sits in a “bowl” of the Andes. Besides the church grounds, there is a souvenir shop and a couple of restaurants that seem to have very odd hours.
Before leaving Turi, you need to visit the Vega Gallery, owned by the famous Cuenca ceramicist Eduardo Vega. Eduardo was born in Cuenca in 1938 and studied in Spain, London, and France. He returned to Cuenca to become the first Artisan, who created ceramic murals around the city. The gallery is about a 100 feet down the road. In the gallery, you can buy Vega's ceramics and watch through the glass windows the workshop where the artisans work. Vega lives in the house located right next to the gallery.
“Getting there” options, besides the taxi or bus are the 439 stairs. You can ask any taxi driver to take you to the Turi “escaleras”. We didn't climb them, but we did go down. It was a nice walk. Once at the bottom, you can walk a couple of blocks down the road to the main road and catch a taxi back home. As you're walking down the stairs, be sure to stop and look back up them occasionally to see the murals painted on the risers.
All in all, this was an excellent trip. You'll probably spend about 2 hours in total.
Check out this charming post about a casita near Turi.
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