Several weeks ago I was out mountain biking and just happened upon this amazing place known as “Blacksmiths” Road. Calle de las Herrerías or “Blacksmiths” Road lies just south of the rio Tomebamba between 12 de Abril and 10 de Agosto across the river from the eastern end of Pumapungo. Years ago this neighbored sat at what was then the edge of town.
Farmers coming to Cuenca would hitch their horses up at one of the two hitching posts and head into town. Back then there were about 50 blacksmiths available to shoe their horses. Times have changed of course, Cuenca has grown, the blacksmiths that shoed the horses are gone but the blacksmithing tradition continues on “Blacksmiths” Road.
Today about twelve blacksmith shops operate here. They make chandeliers, decorative gates, crosses and just about anything else they can come up with or a customer wants.
As you walk down the street you really get a sense of community here. It’s a very old street and neighborhood. There are a number of small restaurants, tiendas, a bakery, a cobbler, a tailor, a few retail shops, a church and even a police station in addition to the blacksmith shops
Calle de las Herrerías is a one way street that runs north to south. About halfway down the street is Museo de Artes del Fuego. It’s a museum which has a display of wrought iron work and pottery. Open Mon-Fri 0800-1330, 1500-1730, it’s free except during special events.
In front of Artes del Fuego is Plaza de Las Herrerías. A sculpture of a volcano and the god Vulcan, wrapped in flames sits at the north end of the plaza. In ancient Roman religion and myth, Vulcan is the god of fire including the fire of volcanoes, also god of metalworking and the forge. Vulcan is often depicted with a blacksmith’s hammer.
Just in front of Artes del Fuego and about 100 yards to the east is the northwest corner of Paradise Park.
This very old neighborhood is surrounded by a whole lot of new. A lot of professionals that work nearby patronize the many restaurants here in addition to the residents and those that work here. Some of these restaurants have been here for decades.