In addition to its gorgeous landscape, surrounded by
hills and several snowcapped volcanoes, Quito is known for its treasures of
Colonial churches, paintings, sculptures and carvings. The Spanish Colonial
Period extended from the 16th to the 18th century. The
excellent workmanship of Ecuadorian colonial art combine the European
Renaissance and Baroque styles with the indigenous and mestizo influences.
Spanish conquerors initiated the construction of churches and convents right
after the conquest. Following the conquest, the Roman Catholic Church then
became the center of religious instruction and promotion of arts. As part of the
"aculturation" of indigenous people, the Spanish established painting
and sculpture schools where Spanish artists trained the indigenous population in
the arts. As a result, the Quiteñan School (Escuela Quiteña) became famous in
Latin America for its talented artists, including Bernardo de Legarda and the
indigenous artists Caspicara and Pampite. Miguel de Santiago, Javier de Goribar,
Manuel Samaniego and Padre Bedán where other outstanding representatives of
this school of arts. Their contributions to colonial art are considered by
scholars as some of the most valuable in America.
The-main square 'La Plaza de la Independencia'. The
balconies in the gallery facing the Independence Square were originally from
the French government.
The Government Palace
Also on the main Square. The Cathedral has an
interesting collection of sculptures and paintings from the Escuela Quiteña.
Among the most important is the "Descending of Christ" by Caspicara.
It is a masterpiece of expressionism. As in most Ecuadorian and Latin American
churches, many styles are used in the construction of the Cathedral: late Gothic
in the arches, Moorish in the ceilings and Baroque in the main altar. See the
Neoclassic style in the choir, the stone Episcopal chair, the central painting
by Manuel Samaniego and the statues by Caspicara.
Right next to the main Square, the buildings originally
built by the Jesuits in the 17th Century were remodeled to house a monumental
Cultural Center. The original buildings were a Jesuit University and School. In
1767, when Charles Ill of Spain banished the Jesuit Order from the colonized
territories, the buildings became a public university, the first public library
directed by Eugenio Espejo (the first indigenous who was a doctor and
journalist), as well as a tobacco factory. In the last decade of the 18th
century, the buildings became the army headquarters of the Spanish Royal troops
sent from Lima to oppress the early independence efforts. Thus, the building was
known as the "Royal Barrack of Lima". In this building, the heroic
efforts for independence ended up in a massacre of a number of patriots from
Quito on August 2, 1810.
Later on, the buildings held the city's municipal
offices. Finally, the buildings became a cultural and artistic center, holding
the Historical Archive, the Alberto Mena Caamaño Museum and the Municipal
The remodeled buildings and services were just
inaugurated on July 2000, and display a beautiful modern architecture. Today,
'Centro Cultural' holds a library and a permanent museum which intends to be a
voyage through Ecuador from1700 through 1830, called "from Quito to Ecuador''.
Centro Cultural also includes a Contemporary Art exhibit room
which houses temporary exhibitions.
This church was constructed after the Spanish Conquest
and is said to have given the capital of Ecuador its proper name: San Francisco
de Quito. The atrium running along one side of the plaza is opened in the middle
to give way to a beautiful staircase. The facade has a style similar to the
Escorial in Spain. The inside has a Baroque style. The coffer ceiling in the
marthex has a rich Moorish style ornamentation with paintings by Miguel de
Santiago. It is interesting to note among the ornate detail images of the sun
god, the Inca divinity. The main altar holds the original masterpiece by Legarda:
"La Virgen de Quito' (Quito's Virgin). This sculpture is the only winged
image of Virgin Mary in colonial art.
We walked through the church of Señor Jesus de
Gran Poder, where we saw some remarkable artwork: wood carvings, paintings,
sculpture, period furniture, and clothing.
Our next excursion was to spend three nights in
the Andes Mountain highlands.
our way back from the highlands we
visit the Equatorial Monument and the Ethnological Museum which was just north
guide, Marcello, told us that there is 60% unemployment. The average
salary is about $200/month.
then returned to the Santa Barbara Hotel for a last night in Ecuador.