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La Balbanera Church - Historical Building Riobamba - Ecuador

When the Spanish came to Ecuador, one of the first places they settled was Riobamba area (after conquering what was then part of the Inca empire). One of the first things they built was La Balbanera Church, a stone edifice that dates back to 1524.

Although the original building was destroyed in a massive 1797 earthquake and was rebuilt in the later reconstruction efforts, the church is still considered the oldest in Ecuador.

La Balbanera, with its rough stone walls, simple adornments and crude bell tower, will not be the most dazzling stop on your trip. (If you’re interested in intricate facades and are pressed for time, head to the near-by Catedral de Riobamba instead.)

Still, if you’re a history buff, or simply want to see one of the earliest signposts on the long road into Spanish-Ecuadorian history, La Balbanera Church is worth a quick visit. The church’s arched entryway features low pillars, cherubs and rough religious imagery. Also worth noting are what appear to be nautical motifs, such as anchors.


The church is located in Cajabamba, 18 km (11 miles) from the city of Riobamba near Lago Colta.

Riobamba, Ecuador

Historical Building Types:
Churches, Colonial architecture, Site of historic significance

Here are other activities in and around Riobamba that may be of interest: Catedral de Riobamba and La Virgen de la Merced.

By Rachael Hanley
A sometime newspaper journalist with a heavy side of wanderlust, Rachael moved to Quito in November to work on the V!VA staff. She is currently...
09 Dec 2008

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