Caranqui, a small Ibarra suburb, has about 5000 people. If you drive about 3 kilometers south of Ibarra, past an oddly-shaped cubic building and up a hill, you will arrive in this small town.
There was once an Inca temple of the sun in this area. As usually happened to sacred sites around the world, a Catholic church was built over the ruins.
Historically and archeologically, Caranqui is an extremely important area. It’s the birthplace of Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor.
This unusual building, a square temple of the sun, is dedicated to Atahualpa. It sits in a small park known as Parque de Caranqui and houses a museum.
An imposing sculpture of Atahualpa stands guard outside the building.
Another Inca site was reclaimed from its burial under tons of earth.
What is now known as the Inca Swimming Pool is a large ruin located on Huiracocha and Princesa Paccha streets.
The city is attempting to resurrect the area as a tourist destination. Vendors sell pan de leche, or milk bread, for which the town is famous. People come to Caranqui on weekends from Quito and the bread is usually sold out. It’s made from wheat and corn flour and milk.
Caranqui is also well-known for its ice cream and popsicles, mora jelly and jam and for dulce de higos, which is sweetened figs served with local cheese.
Click here for more of Caranqui’s history.