Although this Basilica looks as if it has spent centuries in downtown Quito, it is relatively new. Approval for construction came in 1884 and it wasn’t until 1985, more than a hundred years later, that the Basilica blessed by Pope John Paul II yet the building is still officially unfinished. Rumor has it when the building is completed that the end of the world is nigh. There are several empty niches waiting for carved statues and several of the chapels feel very empty. Like most Gothic Cathedrals, the work is probably never really finished as by the time the work is supposedly complete, something is needing repair. We saw examples of this even in this extremely newer building, grotesques that were beginning to crumble on the outside walls.
The Basilica is a focal point for the city and can be seen from many vantage points as you explore other locations. It’s well worth a visit on its own and at the low cost of a $1 per person, very affordable as well. You can take photos in a majority of the church. Don’t forget to look for the turtles, the llamas, the iguanas and more groteques on the outside of the building and keep your eyes open for examples of artwork that blend indigenous culture with Catholic tradition.
We plan on heading back on a sunny day so that we can take advantage of the climb up the towers which will grant us a view of the city and the mountains that surround it.
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