Ecuador’s third-largest town is possibly its most beloved. Ancient history tells of an impressive Incan center with the finest temples covered in gold sheets and magnificent palaces, but little remains of this glory. The town’s present-day charm is due largely to its impressive colonial architecture, cobbled streets, plazas and churches – including the blue-domed Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – and its setting above the grassy banks of the Rio Tomebamba. The town center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and is a popular place for writers, poets and artists.