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Earthquakes seem to keep on rattling the ground up here in the high Ecuadorian Andes, but Ambato—though razed and razed again (most recently in 1949)—sturdily maintains its stance betwixt the mist-clad peaks and billowing volcanic calderas of Tungurahua Province.
First established at the behest of the Spanish monarchy as a mountain outpost, Ambato was rebuilt virtually entirely following the destruction of the 40s. Consequently, the centre is now largely a cascade of apartment blocks dressed in utilitarian modernity, with only flecks of the city’s original raison d'être remaining; from a bustling marketplace bursting with a kaleidoscope of cultivated flowers (one of Ambato’s biggest trades), to a neo-classical frontispiece determined to mimic the former fabled opulence of La Catedral. The town also embraces its cultural heritage with the epithet of the “Land of the Juans”, their prominent figures proudly depicted in its museums and parks.
If you are hitting town in early February then ask your Ambato tour guide about the Carnival arrangements, which often see booming crowds clustering in the streets of Atocha district and Miraflores, sipping cinnamon-doused colada moradas and beset by plumes of carnations to boot!