The picturesque town of Chordeleg is one of the many cute little towns that can be found in the foothills of the Azuay province near Cuenca, Ecuador. Chordeleg is located a little over forty-five minutes by car just outside of the city, with a population of about 11 000 people.
Chordeleg is the original Silversmith town of Ecuador. Chordeleg means “gold waterfall”, and received this name from the adherence of the Spanish Guild System which was established centuries ago. Guilds are groups of merchants, artisans and carpentry that trade in a specific town only.
Upon entering the town, you will notice the huge filigree earrings that hang from the light poles. Filigree is an art which uses fine wires to form very delicate pieces of jewelry. The earrings on the light poles welcome you to this artisan city of Chordeleg. You can also expect to find pottery shops and a small museum
Chordeleg is Ecuador’s hidden gem with its beautiful square surrounded by a big colorful church and of course many little silver shops. Keep reading our article to learn more about this silver town.
Chordeleg, Ecuador’s Silver City
Chordeleg specializes in silver and some of the best silversmiths in the world can be found in this town. The pieces that are created here are very delicate, as they work mostly with the Filigree style. The streets are filled with jewelry shops that offer unique pieces. You are sure to find some skilled handiwork of the craftsman here.
There is an abundance of silver jewelry, and the unique way that the silversmiths make the pieces doesn’t help you when it comes to choosing the perfect one. You can expect to find necklaces, bracelets, rings, and other ornaments at great prices. There is also gold jewelry, but the focus is definitely on silver.
Jewelers from all over Ecuador come to Chordeleg to buy wholesale. This may make you wonder if the jewelry is mass produced somewhere but then you see the artisans in the shops working at making some of the finest silver jewelry around, by using mainly their own hands.
The History of this Guilded Town
The guild system of Ecuador which was established during Spanish colonial times, required each town to have a specific skill or craft that they would produce. Pottery, leather goods, weaving textiles, soaps, oils, and more can be found in these towns where they specialize in each craft independently.
The residents of Chordeleg were trained to be excellent metalworkers. This evolved into a busy silversmith region, and the jewelers that live here produce silver, nickel, gold and brass jewelry. You may be lucky enough to catch one of the craftsmen in action, working on their delicate pieces.
The main technique of jewelry-making in Chordeleg is Filigree. Filigree is an intricate artform with roots in jewelry design dating back more than 5000 years. It adds a delicate dimension and femininity to all types of jewelry pieces.
To make filigree jewelry a craftsman needs to feed silver into a rolling mill, after that the silver fashioned into the shape of a wire is ready for use. They work with their hands until the wire becomes a thin strand. Then they twist the silver strand and dust it with silver powder. The next step is to meld it together with a soldering torch.
The amount of work and difficulty will resemble the worth of the piece. The pieces are still very well priced and you can expect to pay $20-$30 for a nice pair of chandelier earrings.
Main Square in Chordeleg
Chordeleg is kind of perched on a hill, and the cars pass most of the town from below. You can see the big church as you pass by which leads you to the main square. The church and the plaza are surrounded by restaurants, jewelry shops and gift shops.
The main action of the town can be found in the plaza, as well as where you can find the gorgeous green and yellow-painted church. The main attraction here is obviously shopping, although the town itself is very picturesque.
The local people are very friendly and when you stir up a conversation with them you will find that everyone knows everyone, making it a very safe location. They are also highly hospitable and serve typical Ecuadorian lunches along with coffee and beer at the local restaurants, which can also be found around the main square.
Nearby Cities and Attractions
Cuenca is located the closest to Chordeleg, and we highly recommend spending some time in here. Cuenca lays sprawled out amidst the Ecuadorian Andes which surround the city. Cuenca has an interesting history, rich culture and many adventurous pursuits for everyone.
The historic center of Cuenca has been designated as one of only three of Ecuador’s cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It has been praised for its centuries-old colonial architecture, and the city’s planning has been respected and followed here for more than 400 years.
Cuenca is a safe city and holds a pleasant and tranquil vibe. The local people are notoriously welcoming and friendly, which makes it a perfect location to include in your trip to Chordeleg.
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