The best colonial churches in Quito

Before letting you know the best churches in the old town of Quito. Let us tell you why the Historic Center of Quito is so special.

Quito’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been named the best preserved and largest Historic Center in the Americas. Its 320 hectares have 32 museums, 6 chapels, 7 convents, 6 monasteries, 13 squares, 24 churches, and different places of interest. Its numerous churches have impressed thousands of tourists. For their sizes, shapes, and designs of baroque, neo-gothic, neoclassical, and rococo, among others. Thus, becoming the greatest attraction of Quito.

Church of the Society of Jesus

Church of the Society of Jesus
It carries with it the most famous facade of all the churches in Quito. Considered one of the masterpieces of Baroque architecture in South America.
Its building began in the mid-1605s. For more than a century, the project summoned creators from diverse geographical origins. For this reason, it has four different styles (Mudejar, Churrigueresque, Neoclassical) in its architecture, although Baroque art predominates.
The façade of the main temple is carved entirely in volcanic stone. It is admired one of the most important expressions of Baroque architecture in the American continent and in the world.
Its internal ornamentation is completely covered with gold leaves. Is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions and is an invaluable artistic and economic heritage for the country.
On January 30, 1985, it was visited by Pope John Paul II, who presided over a mass in the temple.
Between García Moreno and Sucre streets.

San Francisco Catholic Church

San Francisco Catholic Church
Its construction began on January 25th, 1535. For half a century, the great engine of the construction of San Francisco was a group of Flemish religious, architects, and artists. Led by the dynamic cousin of Emperor Charles V, Fray Jodoco Ricke.
The resulting set is considered one of the best examples of American colonial architecture. Has four cloisters, an orchard, a school (San Andrés) and some rooms. In 1893 the church towers were built.
To level the ground, the director of works, Fray Jodoco Rick, raised a rectangular atrium 100 m long, closed with a handrail, and adorned with thirty spheres. According to legends, it was located in the same place where the palaces of the main captains of the Inca (Atahualpa) were settled.
During the colonial era, the conventional set and the church underwent expansions and remodeling.

Its interior is arranged in three naves in the shape of a Latin cross. The central nave is elevated. It is said that the coffered ceilings of the Moorish style are the first in the art of the time. The main altarpiece of the high altar is made of cedar and has numerous carvings, some of them marked as the maximum expression of Quito sculpture.

Its choir is made up of 81 cedar chairs with elaborate carvings and numerous paintings of saints adorning the walls. You can visit this choir, and if you are in Holy Week, you can see the sculpture of Jesus of the Great Power (Jesus of the Great Power). Famous among the churches. It is the first and largest square in Quito.

On Cuenca and Sucre streets.

 El Sagrario Church

It is part of the whole of the Primate Cathedral of Quito. Its main second door (mampara) is considered one of the richest manifestations of the Quito Baroque. The lateral construction of the Cathedral, in relation to the Plaza de la Independencia (Independence Square), was due to the presence of a ravine that prevented the proper arrangement of the building. The Jesuit architect Marcos Guerra in the seventeenth century covered the ravine with an arch. The Spanish architect José Jaime Ortiz built the temple of El Sagrario in that space.
There are three elements that give importance to El Sagrario within Quito’s colonial art. The dome, the columns of its façade, adorned with delicate reliefs, and the screen, located in front of the main nave.
Located between García Moreno and Espejo streets.

It is characterized by a set of sculptures, finishes and decorations in Renaissance style. In 1694, the architect José Ortiz signed the contract for the construction of the church. That was included in the First Cadastral Book of the founders of the town of Quito. You will find works by Legarda and Francisco Albán. As fresco paintings of biblical scenes with archangels, among the churches of the case, here is the valuable mural painting of the dome and screen dating from the 18th century. The main altarpiece of the high altar is bathed in gold, and you can see the altar of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus).

(Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús).

Basilica and Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced

The Quito architect José Jaime Ortiz began its construction at the beginning of the 18th century under the direction of the according to the plans of the Extremaduran architect Francisco Becerra.
The beauty of its altarpieces stands out. As well as its majestic cloister of two-columns. Its atrium and other forms introduced in the general building were made to save the typical topographic features of the area.
Its stone columns and semicircular arches are a manifestation of 18th century Baroque.
Its main altarpiece, dedicated to the Virgin of Mercedes, sculpted in stone. Is a version of the baroque altarpieces of Bernardo de Legarda.
Settled between Chile and Cuenca streets.

It is the first church and main headquarters of the Mercedarian Order in Ecuador. It is arranged by five domes and a square tower, decorated with Incas and Arabic inscriptions. The main altarpiece was carved and built by Bernardo de Legarda. Inside are several works by the artist Víctor Mideros. It maintains one of the most important historical libraries in the city.

Basilica of the National Vow (Basílica del Voto Nacional)

Basilica of the National Vow
It serves as a border between old Quito and modern Quito. The Basilica is closely linked to the republican era of Ecuador. Inspired by the Parisian Cathedral of Notre Dame. It arose from the idea of building a monument as a perpetual memory of the consecration of Ecuador to the Heart of Jesus. Raised by Father Julio Matovelle, Deputy of the Republic in 1883.In 1892 its construction began and it was finished in 1988. It is valued the largest neo-Gothic temple in America, and the highest religious temple in Latin America.
Inside, the first Sacred Heart of Jesus is venerated, (Sagrado Corazón de Jesús). That was painted when the Republic of Ecuador was consecrated in it. On its façade, it has gargoyles and animals. Symbols of Ecuador as blue-footed boobies, monkeys, jaguars, tortured, among others.
In the Santa Prisca sector, between Carchi and Venezuela streets.

It is one of the most important churches from Ecuadorian neo-gothic architecture. One of the American continent’s most representative. It is compared to big cathedrals: Saint Patrick’s cathedral (NY) and Notre Dame’s cathedral (Paris). From its frontal towers (115 m) you will be able to find the most incredible sights in the south center of Quito. You will also be able to see the majestic Panecillo’s Virgin (Virgen del Panecillo).

Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito (Catedral Metropolitana de Quito)

One of the first buildings to be erected during the 16th century at the very beginning of the Colony. In its beginnings it was made of adobe and wood. Later it became stronger and more solid with its style that has been designated as Gothic-Mudejar.
It is located as the main building in the Plaza Grande. One of its exterior attractions is in the parapet that overlooks this square and in the symmetry of the stones of the arch or temple of Carondelet.
The layout of the building is designed according to the irregularities of the terrain. Most of the materials come from the quarries in nearby Pichincha.
The cathedral was assigned from its beginnings to the bishop of the city of Quito. This gave it even more important than it already had.
The church is located between García Moreno and Venezuela streets, on the south side of the Plaza Grande.

In 1995 it was raised to one of Ecuador’s Primate Cathedrals. Which was converted to a catholic temple of the major hierarchy of the Catholic Church of Ecuador. Its lateral altarpieces were carved by the first teachers of the Quito school, covered with gold leaf. In their niche, pictures of saints and martyrs. In the interior of the chapel next to the ‘’Sacristies’’, the remains of the ‘’Marshal Antonio Jose de Sucre’’ are worshipped.

Santa Barbara Catholic Church

Built by the architect Juan Pablo Sanz and was blessed on December 4, 1892. The first church was built in the 16th century, after the tobacconist revolution. They built it with a neoclassical design characteristic of the 19th century.
After the damage caused by the earthquakes of 1987. Reconstruction and structural consolidation works were carried out on the walls and its dome. This reconstruction was executed by the Salvage Fund. It is named after one of the martyrs of the Catholic Church, Santa Barbara.
This emblematic temple houses the first cross of the seven that are grouped to form the street of the seven crosses (Calle de las Siete cruces).
It focuses on one of the most traditional areas of Quito. So a replica of the traditional Cuenca square called the Plaza de las Flores was designed. Thus linking the tourist development of these two World Heritage Cities of Ecuador.
Outside it has an atrium where there is an original swimming pool from the 16th century. Worked in a single block of stone and that served to distribute water to the first parish of Quito, Santa Bárbara.
Located on García Moreno and Manabí streets.

This Churches Cross, next to the other 6 crosses distributed along the ‘’Seven Crosses ‘’ street. Are part of the Red Flag’s celebration, which remind the liberal ideas of ‘’Eugenio de Santa Cruz y Espejo.’’

The entry is free.

Santo Domingo Catholic Church

Its plans were made by the Extremaduran architect Francisco de Becerra in 1581. However, the church underwent major changes from the 19th century by Italian Dominicans who arrived around that date.
Was completed in the mid-17th century. Is covered by works in cedar, gilding, and numerous paintings and carvings that adorn its entire interior.
The Chapel of the Rosary is the best known among all the chapels of the Santo Domingo church. Next to your cruise ship, built on three different levels. This chapel overlooks the street of La Loma. Where to solve other problems of the terrain is the Arco de La Loma with buttresses in cones.
It is on Flores street, in front of the Plaza de Santo Domingo.

The temple is covered in works made of cedarwood, gold leaf and several paintings which adorn its interior. Next to its high altar, the ten lateral chapels which complete next to the interior’s church, they enrich the internal body of the church. Contains gold plate in carpentry.

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