I lived in Ecuador for 18 years, about nine of them in Quito. I’ve been back to visit a handful of times since then. But I’ve never visited the Basilica cathedral.
It’s a landmark whose spires can been seen jutting toward the sky from nearly every point in the city.
I learned it was commissioned by the Ecuadorian president Gabriel Garcia Moreno in the 1800s. Garcia Moreno never got to see construction on the cathedral begun, however, because he was assassinated.
What’s interesting about the cathedral is that all the gargoyles are animals native to Ecuador, like the anteater and Galapagos turtle.
It reminds me of one of those drip castles that I used to make a the beach.
Two years ago when I visited, all the churches downtown were free to walk in to. This year, tourists have to pay to view the intricate interiors. I was too cheap to pay the $1-$2 for every church, but you have to admit the prices aren’t too dear. It helps pay for the upkeep and restoration of the churches, so it makes sense. All of them are fully functional churches, too, so often when mass is going on, the interiors are closed to the public.
With the new restrictions, I was surprised to learn (via my brother in law’s awesome walking tour) that we could climb the Basilica tower. It set us back $2 each, and fortunately there’s an elevator. The elevator reaches the third floor, which is the top.
From there, you have commanding views of the city, including the Panecillo, where La Virgen keeps watch over Quito.
That’s right, a super scary, rickety walkway to the even more daunting ladder up the spire.
My dad’s knee was bothering him, so he didn’t go up. But the husband and I did. We were climbing this:
To see this:
Coincidentally, I had this image turned into a fun digital print by birdave for my brother in law this Christmas. He’s an architecture buff, and he loved it. I highly recommend that vendor, too, by the way. My brother in law got two other city prints, as did my dad and husband. They’re good gifts for travelers, or just someone who loves their city.
If you go, know that there are bathrooms and a cafe at the top, along with a gift shop. I didn’t use the bathroom or eat, so I can’t recommend them, but they’re there.
After we explored, we headed for the bottom.
We didn’t enter the sanctuary, but enjoyed the light in the foyer.
If you’re ever in Quito, don’t be like me and wait 20+ years to visit Basilica.