Depending on your acclimatization to the altitude, you may or may not notice that Cuenca is quite the high city. At about 8,200 feet of elevation, this UNESCO World Heritage site is just 1000 ft of elevation lower than the capital city of Quito to the North.
Cuenca is surrounded by mountains, but it is not a vertical city that is actually built INTO the mountains like Quito. This means there are far fewer observation points because the mountains are actually quite far away. There is an exception.
The Iglesia de Turi and accompanying observation point is less than two miles from the city center. It also happens to be a stop on the Cuenca City Tour Bus, and for a very good reason, this is the only place you can see the entire city from above, while still having two feet on the ground.
Like most places in the city of Cuenca, you will feel safe at Turi. There is always a friendly presence of national police. As a side note, I believe that I have seen more female law enforcement officers in Ecuador than in nearly any other country I have ever been to. Kudos to the Ecuadorian government for recognizing gender equality and providing the opportunity for all of its citizens.
Outside the church you will find a few souvenir stalls, along side the more expensive artisenal craft shops. These places typically sell handmade boots and hats. You will also find a handful of restaurants that offer local dishes.
Photographing this area can be difficult as it is often very crowded. Many locals make their living here, and visit the house of workship as well. You will also pass through the small village of Turi on the way up the mountain. Despite the crowds, this is an absolute must visit spot when visiting Cuenca.