|Basilica of National Voto||Quito Scene with the Madonna|
Arriving back in Quito from the Galápagos Islands told us that our journey was nearing completion, but certainly not yet over. The Incas lived in Ecuador for a short period…maybe about thirty years. Quito was founded by the Spaniards in 1534 and there is much evidence of their presence in the old part of the city. But there is a new and modern part of the city including the Cumbaya and Guapulo areas where homes are quite expensive and many Canadians, Germans and Swiss have settled.
In the old section of Quito, we visited the Basilica of National Voto…similar in design to Notre Dame….a neo-gothic style church. Here instead of gargoyles, the church façade is adorned with statues of birds and animals of the Galápagos Islands. Then we headed over the main square of Quito…the Plaza de la Independencia. In the middle of the plaza is a statue of the Heroes of the 10th of August (1809) Monument of Independence.
On one side of the square is the Presidential Palace, a neo-classical design with the inside looking like a cloisters with many arches. All the ironwork at the palace was from France. We then walked down the street to the very ornate gold filled Iglesia de la Compania, a church built between 1605 and 1765. It was then closed for eighty years, but opened by the Jesuits in the 1860s. Within the old city of Quito alone there are forty-two Catholic churches.
Earthquakes and fires have damaged and/or destroyed much of Quito and its buildings over the years. The churches have required expensive and detailed restorations to bring them back to their original state.
Today, the natives of Quito are very proud of their city. It is kept very clean and most of the buildings are being restored and cleaned.
A drive up to the hills took us to the one-hundred foot high statue of Madonna…the Virgin Mary. It is located at the highest elevation in the city at 10,000 feet and looks down on the whole city. It was constructed of 7,000 pieces of aluminum in Spain in 1973, and brought here to be assembled in Quito. The Madonna has wings and a crown of stars.
On our last day in Quito on this fantastic journey and before heading to the airport, we visited the Middle of the World City. Located exactly at the latitude of 0.0.0 we were at the equator. (Ecuador means land of the equator) Standing at the line indicating this location we could easily step from the northern hemisphere into the southern hemisphere and back again.
This visit was even more significant because we were on the Equator on March 21st, the Vernal Equinox, the very day when the time of daylight is equal to the time of darkness. And, when that happens on the Equator, then we would experience absolutely no shadow because the sun would be positioned exactly above us. But unfortunately, clouds overhead held the sun from shining on us and eliminated our ability to verify this happening.
We then headed to the airport for our flight home…stopping in Miami overnight and continuing home the following day. A magical experience came to an end and we are left now with memories that will last forever. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have been able to take this trip and recommend it to all who have an interest in history, science and ancient cultures.
|The Equator & North/South Hemispheres||Plaza de la Independencia and the Presidential Palace|