Quito, otherwise known as the ‘divine city’, is the capital of Ecuador. It is a Spanish colonial city and Baroque gem surrounded by volcanic mountains, its historic centre having been built on the ruins of an Inca city.
La Basilica is situated on a northern hill and is one of the city’s most monumental buildings measuring a hundred and forty metres long and thirty five metres wide. It is one of Quito’s earliest religious buildings and its construction began in 1892 when, a century later, it was consecrated by the Pope. The basilica is an architectural symbol of an autocratic Catholic church which dominated the country until the Liberal Revolution of 1925. The former Inca city subsequently became a splendid, yet strict, religious settlement of the main religious orders.
On the northern side of the plaza is the Palacio Arzobispal, the Archbishop’s Palace. Its size and location highlight the prominent position of the Catholic church that continues to be of great importance today. The Catedral Metropolitana is situated on the opposite side of the square and is the result of various building epochs.
The ancient town of Quito with all its alleys, buildings and courtyards is a gem of colonial architecture and monuments such as the Arco De La Reina, a kind of triumphal gate, still adorns the metropolis. But, above all, there are churches everywhere. Indeed, in one single square kilometre are sixteen religious buildings. Quito is truly the ‘monastery of America’.
The former capital of the northern Inca realm became the most Spanish city of the New World and today, churches, monasteries and squares continue to gleam in all of their colonial splendour. The remarkable legacy of a rich and dramatic past!