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Don Quiote and the Puerta de Loja by Beatrice Murch on flickr

Don Quiote and the Puerta de Loja

Despite the fact that Loja is one of Ecuador’s oldest and most historic cities, even most Ecuadorians have not been here. Loja was the start of the conquistador’s search for Andean gold and exploration of the Amazon basin. Simón Bolívar, the famous liberator of South America visited Loja in his campaign to unit Gran Colombia. It was also from Loja that Ecuador declared its independence from Spain in 1820.

There are about 185,000 people in Loja, capital of the province of the same name. It is also at a lower altitude than its more famous neighbor to the north, Cuenca. At 6,50 feet compared to Cuenca’s 8,200 feet, Loja is warmer with average daytime temperatures of 70°F every day.

Loja is known as the Musical and Cultural Capital of Ecuador. Many of Ecuador’s most famous musicians are either from Loja or has studied here. There are free musical events almost every week. For example, every Sunday the police band gives a free concert at Plaza de la Independencia in front of San Sebastián Church. They are from every genre of music including Loja’s own música lojana ballads.

Villonaco Wind Farm ProjectThere are few things that make Loja distinct from other Ecuadorian cities. This includes markets where the vendors wear matching uniforms and brimless caps, a city that is proud of its cleanliness (it has won several internal awards for its environment efforts), and some of Ecuador’s best export-quality coffee.

West of Loja is a large wind farm, Parque Eólico Villonaco, Ecuador’s first wind farm and the world’s first at this altitude. It is expected to product 37 GW.h for an equivalent of 2,500 hours of full load/year.

Loja’s Neighborhoods

With its clean streets, friendly people, low crime rate and low cost of living, there are very few neighborhoods not to consider but since Loja is largely undiscovered, you will not find many who speak English (or anything else besides Spanish).

Centro Historical District

Properties in this area average $45 – $55 per square foot. In general, Loja’s locals do not want to live in this area.

Nueva Granada

Located north of the city, near Parque Recreacional Jipiro.

Estancia Norte

This neighborhood is northeast of the city

Zamora Huayco

This neighborhood is located on Loja’s east side bordering Parque Colinar Picará and is a desirable neighborhood.

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