Discover the magnificent ancient churches and cathedrals of Quito in Ecuador
The capital of Ecuador, Quito, is home to an array of beautiful historic churches, cathedrals and monasteries, and its architectural delights have earned the city one of the first ever places on the coveted list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Influenced by the Spanish, Roman, and Baroque, the city's ancient churches feature gilded walls, gargoyles, and ornate wooden doors.
Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is renowned for its Spanish colonial architecture, and its historic buildings led to it being one of the first sites named on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The historic city boasts several churches, monasteries, and a cathedral that show influences from the Romans, Spanish, Baroque, and Moorish.
Travellers can discover the delights of this beautiful city on a free guided walking tour with Free Walking Tour Ecuador, where they will learn about the history and architecture of Quito. Cobbled streets and squares lead to tucked away places of worship, that have feature gilded walls, heavy wooden doors, and towers boasting stunning panoramic views.
Here are some of the churches and monasteries that are well worth a visit during a trip to Quito.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito
One of the oldest churches in South America, the 16th-century cathedral is located next to the Plaza de la Independencia, and inscribed on its sides are the names of the original 204 Spanish conquerors.
La Iglesia de El Sagrario
Attached to Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito, this 17th-century chapel is accessed separately and features baroque architecture, beautiful altars, and huge wooden doors. The building has many mausoleums where several heads of state lie, including the, Antonia Jose de Sucre, the founder of Ecuador.
La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus
This church is one of the most opulent in the Americas, and it was built over a period of 160 years and showcases true Spanish Baroque architecture. Featuring gold leaf interior throughout, the altar holds the tomb of Ecuador’s Patron Saint, Mariana de Jesus de Paredes. The faces of indigenous people and native animals have been carved into the walls of the church, and the 1,104 pipe organ is still used for special occasions.
San Agustin Convent and Church
Located in Old Town, this 16th-century church is home to one of the greatest baroque collections in the world and features several paintings by Miguel de Santiago. The bell tower is 22 metres high and has two bronze bells.
Basilica del Voto Nacional
This 19th-century Roman Catholic church dominates the skyline of Quito with its neo-gothic architecture and soaring towers. Modelled on the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, the outside of the building has several gargoyles of local Ecuadorean monkeys, penguins, and tortoises. There’s a cafe on the third floor, where visitors can stop off from a trip to the top of the towers for the best views of the city.
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a city that was built in the 16th Century on the foundations of an Inca city. Its elevated position 2,850 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Andes, makes it the highest capital city in the world. Popular attractions in city include Casa de la Cultura where tourists can visit art galleries, and watch theatre, cinema, and dance performances; the El Panecillo monument; the Plaza de la Independencia; Carondelet Palace; and the Vulquano theme park with rides and activities.
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