Tuesday 26th October we decided to climb up the hill in the Old Town to see the statue of the Virgin of Quito, which is located on top of El Panecillo hill.
El Panecillo is a hill located in the middle west of the city at an altitude of about 3,016 metres (9,895 ft) above sea level. A monument to the Virgin Mary is located on top of El Panecillo and is visible from most of the city of Quito. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a 41 metres (135 ft)–tall aluminum monument of a madonna, which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo. Made of approximately 7,000 pieces of aluminum, the monument was inaugurated on 28 March 1976, by the 11th archbishop of Quito, Cardinal Pablo Muñoz Vega.
We decided to walk up to the statue instead of taking a taxi. The walk up to the statue was the most interesting part. When walking up to the monument, we passed by locals houses and small shops. We saw lot’s of homes on the hills that were like shanty homes. The more we walked up the hill, the more people stopped and starred, I guess they mustn’t get many tourists passing by.
We passed by this girl who was about 2 years old. She was sat on her Mum’s and Dad’s knee, with a news paper in front of her. They were using the paper to teach her to read, I thought this was very cute.
The higher we went up the more we able to see over the city. The buildings over the city are all different colours, red, yellow, pink, orange. We could also see may cathedrals around the city.
The one thing I didn’t like about the walk up to the statue was the amount of dogs that come over barking at you. I don’t know who owned the dogs, they just seemed to be roaming free.
After about 30 minutes of up hill walking, we finally got to the Virgin of Quito Statue.
After about 5 minutes of being at the statue a thunder storm started. This was a great place to view it. We saw some amazing strikes of lightning right across the city and also close by to many in coming aeroplanes. This was more amazing than the statue that we had come to see.
Wednesday 27th October we went to visit ‘Mitad Del Mundo’, translated as ‘Middle of the World’. This is where the line of the equator is and also a monument that was built to mark the equator.
The Mitad del Mundo is located in the San Antonio parish of the canton of Quito, north of the center of Quito. The 30-meter-tall monument, built between 1979 and 1982, was constructed to mark the point where the equator passes through the country in the geodetic datum in use in Ecuador at that time. A line down the center of the east-facing staircase, and across the plaza, was meant to mark the equator, and countless tourists over the years have had their pictures taken straddling this line. In the modern datum of the World Geodetic System, which is used in GPS systems and computer mapping products like Google Earth, the equator is placed about 240 meters north of the marked line. This discrepancy is partially due to increased accuracy but primarily due to a different choice of mapping datum. Similarly, the line marking the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in England is roughly 100 meters from the exact zero of longitude as indicated by GPS receivers.
So even though this is where everyone goes to see the equator and get their pictures taken ect, it is actually 240 meters off the mark.
We got to Mitad Del Mundo by bus from the city. First we took the yellow metro bus from ‘Ave America’ to Ofelia transfer station. Then we got a blue bus marked ‘Mitad Del Mundo’ on the front to the equator. This took about 1 1/2 hours in total and cost us 55 cent each.
Mitad Del Mundo is completely built up around tourism. As soon as we got off the bus we were bombarded by tour guides, asking us did we want a tour. The answer was of course no. So we set off and did what every other tourist does and got our picture standing on the line of the equator.
It was pretty cool to be standing on the line of the equator, one foot on the southern hemisphere and the other on the northern hemisphere, but other than that there really isn’t much else to see. There are tourists shops and a few restaurants at the site, but of course the prices are high compared to anywhere else.
Thursday 28th October we took a look around the old town of Quito. This is where you will find the narrow, colonial streets.
According to UNESCO, Quito has the largest, best-preserved, and least-altered historic centre (320 hectares) in Latin America, despite several earthquakes. It was the first city that was inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List, in 1978
The old town is by far the nicest part of Quito. We visited many cathedrals and old buildings.
This is just a quick over view of our first few days in Quito. We will write about our time in Otavalo very soon. We have just got back to Quito from Otavalo today, after spending Friday night there and going to a massive market, which is held there every Saturday.
Ruth and Paul