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Introduction

Ambato, Tungurahua - Ecuador

Ambato, Tungurahua - Ecuador

© airwolf09

Ambato is a small city in Ecuador, home to some 200,000 people, but with a very metropolitan feel to it. The city is a market town in its own right. The city explodes on Monday which is market day where the businessmen from the high rises walk the streets with the indigenous folk from the country. Ambato is a perfect city for those looking to escape the tourist trail. Walking around these streets is a blast and you'll never run into another gringo. Carnival is a huge deal which is celebrated by the festival of the fruits and flowers.

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Sights and Activities

  • City Centre. Much of the city has been devastated multiple times by earthquakes, most recently in 1949, so don't get your expectations too high when visiting the city center. The cathedral from 1954 next to Parque Juan Montalvo is considered the landmark of Ambato; however, most locals (and visitors) are not too excited about its modern architecture. A highlight of the center are seven large murals that have been painted onto the walls of some public buildings in early 2017.
  • Jardín Botánico Atocha-La Liria. Ambato's botanical gardens.
  • Parque Juan Montalvo - In the centre of the city is the emblematic Montalvo Park. Named after the famous Ambato-born writer, Juan Montalvo, the park was built in 1905 and has served as a social gathering spot for the people of Ambato since. The park was designed by local architect Pedro Durini. It lies at the meeting point of four important streets in Ambato: Montalvo, Sucre, Bolivar, and Castillo. It also sits in the shadow of the modern cathedral which has served as a symbol of the new Ambato. The statue of Juan Montalvo at the center of the park was built in Italy by Pietro Capurro. It was inaugurated in 1911. The mausoleum where Juan Montalvo is buried is just down the street. The park is currently undergoing a $450,000 renovation to restore the gates and walkways that surround the park.
  • Quinta Juan León Mera - Home to one of Ambato's most famous residents, the Quinta Juan León Mera was the villa-style house of writer Juan León Mera. Located on the north bank of the Ambato River in the neighborhood of Atocha, the house was built in 1874. It is now open to the public. Famous for its gardens, which are supposed to contain over 257 species of flowers, the house also posts well-maintained colonial furniture and paintings. The properties surrounding the Quinta hold now a new Botanic Garden with native and foreign species. Gardens were created inspired on the continents.
  • La Catedral - The very modern, white cathedral is downtown Ambato is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the city. The cathedral is built on the site of the original chapel that was constructed in 1689. This was destroyed in an earthquake later and a much larger church was built only to be destroyed again in the 1797 Riobamba earthquake. A new church was built of the same design but again, an earthquake claimed the structure in the 1949 Ambato earthquake. The new cathedral was inaugurated in 1954 and sits across the street from Parque Juan Montalvo.
  • Central Library - Located right next to the Casa de Portal is the city's newest and largest library. The three-story library is part of the city's plan to rejuvenate the downtown area around Parque Montalvo. The library contains over 70,000 titles and has many computer stations for users. The official name is the "Library of the City and Province," as it serves both the city of Ambato and the larger province of Tungurahua.
  • Cevallos Park (Parque Cevallos) - Within walking distance of Parque Montavlo, Parque Pedro Fermín Cevallos is a leafy space located on one of downtown Ambato's main thoroughfares, Calle Cevallos. Two of Ambato's most well-known schools are located on the edges of the park: a high school, Colegio Bolivar, and an elementary school, Escuela de la Providencia. In the last few years, concerns about security in the park have led city leaders to re-think the space. In July 2010, plans were made to replace many of the trees and lawns with an open plaza. The plans also called for the building of an underground parking lot beneath the square to alleviate some of Ambato's downtown parking woes. In August 2010, Mayor Barona announced that those plans had not been met with sufficient enough public support and appeared to be dead.
  • Parque de la Familia - Parque Provincial de la Familia, or "Provincial Park of the Family," is a large gathering spot located about 7 miles above Ambato. Though the park itself is not within city limits, Ambateños pack the park on weekends. Maintained by the provincial government of Tungurahua, the park is actually just outside the community of Quisapincha. In addition to walking paths, there are open fields, basketball and volley courts, as well as a large garden features an impressive amount of native species. On clear days, the park also affords the visitor excellent views of the city of Ambato and the constantly smoking Tungurahua volcano.

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Events and Festivals

  • The Festival of Fruits and Flowers - The Festival of Fruits and Flowers is held every year in Ambato to commemorate the anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed the city on August 5, 1949, where 6000 people lost their lives. The festival was created on 29 June 1950. Although the earthquake was in August, the festival is celebrated in February to fall closer to Carnival. The rich volcanic soil of the area are home to a large amount of farms and a great diversity of agricultural products. Ambatenos refer to the city as the "land of the three Juanes,". Ambateños are commonly referred to as Guaytambos or Patojos.

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Getting There

Given its central location in the country, Ambato is well connected to all parts of the country. Buses run from Quito (2.5 hours), Baños ($1, 1 hour), Cuenca ($6, 6 hours), Riobamba ($1.25, 1 hour), and many others.

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Eat

  • Pastelería Quito (Mera 547 and Cavallos). Famous Ambato's bread, Brakfast, Cafeteria and Pastry.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes can be found nearly everywhere in the major cities and in many of the smaller ones. Cost is from $1 to $2 per hour in the large cities, and the better places have high-speed access. In some cafes, restaurants, and hotels you can find free wifi access, most of them protected by passwords; in most cases, you just have to ask for the password.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international telephone code for Ecuador is 593. The general emergency number is 911, but there are special ones of police (101) and fire (102).

The centre of most towns, cities and villages have telephone 'shops', advertised in the street as 'cabinas'. Go in, ask for a free phone booth and call. There is usually a digital display giving the cost (per second) of your call, whether local, national or international. You can call the United States for about $0.10 per minute and Europe for a bit more. Avoid making a phone call through an operator; the cost for an international call can be $3 or more per minute. For calls within Ecuador, it is possible to use a telephone cabin.

Some mobile phone SIM cards of various networks have problems working in Ecuador - you can purchase a local network SIM (for an unlocked phone) for a few dollars in local mobile phone shops. The costs of calling are higher though at around $0.45 an hour.

Post

Correos del Ecuador is the national postal service of Ecuador. It's fairly reliable to send postcards and letters to other countries, though count on at least 5 days up to weeks for it to arrive. In general, postal services to North America are much faster than to other western countries. Prices start at around $1 (up to 20 grams), but rise steeply after that. You can get stamps at post offices or small shops/kiosks. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays, although there are slight variations throughout the country. If you are going to send heavier post or post which has more value, it might be better to contact private courier companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, which are generally about the same price and much faster!

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -1.241667
  • Longitude: -78.619722

Contributors

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This is version 13. Last edited at 14:39 on Feb 16, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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