Day 2 of my Ecuador Tour: Exploration of Quito
Bascilica del Voto
Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande)
La Compañia Church
Church of San Francisco
Middle of the World Monument
This was the first real day of exploration! Boy was I excited and nervous as I processed the fact that I came to this country by myself and didn't even tell my mom I signed up for this tour alone (didn't want to freak her out!)
Basilica del Voto
After some morning mishaps (like eating breakfast in the wrong location and finding no one from my tour group), we were now ready to take off! The first stop was the #BasilicadelVoto. Apparently, it is the ONLY basilica in #Ecuador, despite the fact that there are 65 churches in Quito alone! Made from volcanic rock, the basilica is known to be the largest neo-Gothic structure in the Americas. It is known for its sculptures of Ecuadorian animals, such as armadillos, iguanas, and Galapagos tortoises - all around the church. It is part of the Quito’s historic center, sitting on elevated land, allowing it to be overlooking part of the city. The photo here does not do it justice, but you can see the small details.
Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande): We hopped back on the bus to drive for a few minutes in order to avoid walking some VERY steep streets. We arrived to this large plaza and the first thought I had was “did we travel back in time?” There are ornate buildings, along with local restaurants. It is clear that Quito is structured around this plaza, explaining why it is called #PlazaGrande.
The first thing you notice is this very tall monument in the middle of La #PlazadelaIndependencia. When you creep closer, you notice that it is not just any normal monument. There are lots of symbols surrounding it, which are carved with detail--whether it is the roaring lion or a "lady liberty" symbol of sorts holding a torch. This memorial was built in the early twentieth century, symbolizing the triumph of the Republic against the Spanish colony. Floral offerings are made every August 10th to remember "El primer grito de la independencia" by Quito's founding fathers in 1809. Quito is viewed as the Light of America, the site where the fights for independence began across the continent.
Independence was gained in 1822, but it was first a part of the country of Colombia until 1830. Have you ever noticed that Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador have the same flag colors? That is because they all gained independence through Simon Bolivar!
Around the side and up the steps was the #PresidentialPalace. These guards looked like they did not want to be bothered! You can't blame them as they are stuck there all day with people snapping pictures of them (I included - clearly).
La Compañia Church:
Have you ever walked into a place made entirely of gold? Every turn you make, the place is glistening. You wipe your eyes and blink and realize it is not a dream. Walking into the main part of the church felt like a holy experience beyond no other. I felt completely at peace, completely in awe. We were not allowed to take any pictures, so I had to google an image. This image does not do it justice, but here is an idea of what I am talking about!
Church of San Francisco:
I may have not been able to take pictures of La #CompañiaChurch, but I was able to take of the Church of San Francisco, place in which I was able to walk around for a total of 5 minutes. The altar was amazing in its own right, glistening in gold. I walked in when people were deep in prayer and I definitely felt a sense of spirituality. Mind you, I am not a very religious person!
Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo) Monument:
This is one of the reasons why I came to Ecuador. When I read the tour description which stated that I can literally be in the center of the world, I was sold! My mind was blown away to learn that Ecuador is named after the #equator. Why did I not know this before!?!?
When you arrive, it is a little more anticlimactic. However, it was interesting to find out that the monument was actually built is a few feet off from where the actual center of the world is. The placement of the equatorial line was defined in a 1736 expedition called the French Geodesic Mission. However, studies showed the placement of the equator was incorrect by 240 meters.
The yellow line is there to indicate the division between the eastern and western hemisphere. Clearly, I was having the most fun trying to get photos from ALL types of angles and zooms. The photo above of me sitting has been featured on multiple instagram pages so I've done something right *snap snap*.