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Hacienda Pinsaqui



December, 1863: Colombia and Ecuador have been at war for two long years. Ecuador has lost two pivotal battles: the battle of Las Gradas in July, 1862 and, more recently, the battle of Guaspud on December 6, 1863 when Colombian forces occupy Ibarra, the “White City” in the north of Ecuador. The people of both nations, tired of years of strife and war, demand that their governments make peace. Ten miles south of Ibarra, representatives from both nations meet in a stately country home. There, they hammer out the details of a peace treaty, naming it after the estate. The Treaty of Pinsaqui is signed on December 30, 1863.


Established during the colonial era as a textile workshop and the country home of prominent Ecuadorian families, Hacienda Pinsaqui is one of Ecuador’s most historic and stunning country homes. The signing of the famous treaty is only one episode in Pinsaqui’s fascinating history. At its height, the hacienda employed more than 1,000 local artisans, and in the early part of the nineteenth century, the famous leader of the struggle for South American independence, Simón Bolívar, often stayed at the hacienda when traveling between Ecuador and Colombia. In 1867, an earthquake destroyed the hacienda, which was rebuilt shortly thereafter.


This prestigious local landmark has been in the Freile-Larrea family for generations: a member of the family, Modesto Larrea, served as the ambassador of Ecuador to Spain and Chile (look around on the walls: you may spot a framed photo of him with Frida Kahlo). The historic hacienda was converted into a first-class hotel about 10 years ago and feels more like a home. The surrounding estate is a maze of well-kept, beautiful gardens, patios, airy hallways, unique guest rooms (all of which have private bath and either a wood stove or a fireplace) and fountains. Emerald hummingbirds flitter around the flowering trees and plants of the gardens. The rustic chapel still features original colonial art and statues.


Of particular interest is the bar area, which is the only part of the hacienda to survive the 1867 earthquake. It is a charming, cozy room with a large fireplace and decorated with old saddles and equestrian trophies won by Pinsaqui horses over the years. Guests are invited to the bar for a nightly welcome cocktail, occasionally presented by the owner himself. A local Andean music band completes the ambience.


Pinsaqui is located almost exactly between the towns of Otavalo, Cotacachi and San Antonio de Ibarra. This is good news for shoppers: Otavalo hosts the largest native handicraft market in South America, Cotacachi is known for leather goods and San Antonio de Ibarra is famous for woodcarvings. With one foot in the past and one in the present, Pinsaqui is a unique place in the highlands of Ecuador.

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