A re-constructed face. The jewelry and shelled head piece are samples found on site.

A re-constructed face. The jewelry and shelled head piece are samples found on site.

A couple of weekends ago, we headed out on a mission to explore El Museo de Sitio La Florida. It’s an archeological site of pre-Columbian origins that sits in the middle of your average Quiteño neighborhood. We passed lines of laundry gently blowing in the wind and the obligatory Saturday soccer game on our way to this little treasure. In fact, we were beginning to wonder if we would find a museum at all when we found the tiny building that protects the ruins.

The place is well designed, if small. And a personal tour guide will explain everything, though be warned that the day we visited, only Spanish speaking guides were available.

The guide will take you to the pits where ancient burials have been found. The pits are very deep and it’s impossible to see to the bottom but it is interesting to see the green fronds of damp-loving ferns growing from the sides of the pit walls. In one of the pits, there used to be a functioning camera that tourists were able to manipulate and better explore the subterranean finds, but it no longer seems to be working. But don’t let that stop you from visiting.

Our guide told us that at the deepest levels, scientists found an ancient burial site, 200 – 400 years before common era. The curators have designed a sample pit to show what they found, several bodies curled in the fetal position, some obviously of higher rank in the center surrounded by those of less importance.

After exploring the actual dig, your guide will take you into the small, one room museum where several excellent samples of shell work clothing, pottery, metalwork, and cloth can be seen. Several of these are absolutely stunning.

After our guide had finished explaining everything to us, we asked if we could walk around on our own. It wasn’t a problem. In fact, I think he was pleased that we wanted to explore a little more. All in all, we passed about an hour here, not long. If you decided to visit via taxi, make sure to ask them to wait while you look. Finding a taxi back in this part of Quito is sure to be a struggle. And paying your taxista a little more to wait won’t add much to the cost of the experience; the museum itself is free.

Hours: Wednesday through Sunday de 08:00 a 16:30.
Address: Calle Antonio Costa, between Román y Fernando Corral (in the San Vicente Neighborhood), North Quito.

Slideshow available by clicking on any single photo.