While vacationing in Ecuador, a visit to Barranco's Panama Hat Factory in Cuenca is a must! Visitors can discover how the true panama hat is made by going to our museum which is located in the factory. It is situated on the banks of the Rio Tomebamba in the business center in one of the most beautiful colonial cities of Ecuador. Cuenca was built by the Spanish on Inca ruins in 1550 AD, and it still has maintained the heritage buildings and is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Cuenca boasts 22 churches/cathedrals in a 5 mile radius.
At the museum, visitors will discover the history of the panama hat as well as the interesting story of the Paredes Roldan family who established the business of manufacturing and exporting panama hats to Panama City in the 1940's. The hat was called a panama because they were always exported out of Panama City starting from the late 1800's, even though they were only made in Ecuador. The sole material, paja toquilla, which panama hats are made of, only grows in the central coastal regions of Ecuador. To this day it can only be found in the same region although other countries have tried and failed to cultivate this versatile straw fiber.
In total there are four panama hat factories in Cuenca, Ecuador which produce 99% of all panama hats for worldwide consumption with Barranco Panama Hat Factory being one of the four.
The tours are always free and staff are always excited to give you informative tours seven days of the week! Plus if you have any questions about accommodations we can provide some good hotels to stay while your stay in Cuenca.
Efra (On Right, Master Hat Shaper / Designer) with a customer
Eon. Graciela Paredes (Accountant)
Factory Export Officer (left) with a factory hat shaper inside the panama hat factory
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