In 1978, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Quito, the capital of Ecuador, a World Heritage site. Many of the monuments in Quito were constructed during the Ecuador's colonial period and bear testament to the country's religious and artistic past. Monuments in other cities also highlight Ecuador's revolutionary history.
Church and Monastery of San Francisco
The church and monastery of San Francisco is the oldest such complex in Quito. Construction began shortly after the arrival of the Spanish colonizers in 1535 and lasted until 1604. Founded by Franciscan missionary Joedco Ricke, the monument boasts whitewashed walls and two bell towers. The church, allegedly built on the palace of the Inca emperor Huayna Capac, houses Ecuadorian sculptor Bernardo de Legarda's wooden, winged Virgin of Quito.
Virgin of Quito
Located atop a hill known as El Panecillo in the center of the city, the Virgin of Quito is a large-scale replica of Legarda's piece. A Spanish artist, Augustin de la Herran Matorras, built the statue from 7,000 pieces of aluminum. As is the case with most sculptural depictions of the Madonna, the Virgin of Quito stands on a globe and there is a snake beneath her feet. The statue is 148 feet tall and is visible from most parts of the Quito. It is possible to climb up to the top of the statue for a panoramic view of the city.
Company of Jesus Church
Regarded as one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring churches in South America, the Company of Jesus Church in Quito was constructed between 1605 and 1765. Brother Marcos Guerra designed the Jesuit church, which is considered a masterpiece of Spanish Baroque architecture. The intricate façade is carved out of volcanic rock and is adorned with statues of saints and Solomonic columns. The interior walls are almost completely covered gold leaf, which required an estimated seven tons of gold.
Located in Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, La Rotonda is a semicircular-shaped monument that commemorates a meeting between generals Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, two figures hailed as liberators of South America. The nature of the conversation that took place between Bolivar and San Martin on July 26, 1822, is unknown, but San Martin subsequently abandoned the continent, leaving the mission in Bolivar's hands. Spanish sculptor Jose Antonio Homs designed the monument, which features statues of Bolivar and San Martin. It was completed in 1938.