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ARTICLES OF INTEREST - ECUADOR
Lost in Quito. In search of the Plaza Grande or Plaza de la Independencia, one of the biggest attractions in the colonial helmet of the Ecuadorian capital. And in the effort to arrive to the old heart of the city, one can discover some of the architectural jewels that motivated that this important Andean city was declared as Cultural Patrimony of the Humanity by the United Nations.
Walking, perspiring, devouring the streets Red light, free pass, to accelerate the step, avoiding pedestrians, looking everything, up and down, left and right: clouds, steeples, domes, a winged virgin that steps to the world, a boy cleaning boots... getting lost, to hesitate, to mistake the direction... Mister, where is the Plaza Grande? A plane is drawn and it disappears in the air.
Thanks, a smile, a big face of "understood, Mister, your explanation was clear" and start walking again... towards where?, anywhere, toward where the sheer little street takes you, it could be the Plaza Grande and if not, who cares, it will end up in the atrium of a very old church or in the vestibule of a large house. In the old city you will never loose.
Interrupted breathing. Empty lungs. Air gets scarce at 2800 m.a.s.l. It is necessary to stop. Accelerated heart. Palpitating temples... and where could La Plaza Grande be?, how would their monument be?, their benches?, their surrounding buildings?. Got to ask again... to whom?, everybody walks quickly as if they were on a hurry, entering and leaving the temples, the stores, the offices and restaurants. Confusion. Coming and going to downtown Quito.
The Square is not anywhere. Rounds and rounds by the wrong streets that take to Santo Domingo and its colossal domes or to San Francisco's monastery, with its 104 doric columns and its foundations that rise on the Inca palace that the general Rumiñahui (Face of Stone), set on fire in 1534 so that it was not stained by the Spanish conqueror's sandal.
The sun is abducted by an outpost of black clouds. The colonial city is darkened, made up of gray. Rain starts. The drops are tears of the sky that fall everywhere. To run, to hide, to look for refuge... an eaves, a passage of columns and cement arches, perhaps a church, La Compañía?... no, it is closed, but it is beautiful, the prettiest in Latin America, they say .. is it?, who knows?, maybe, why not?, the construction lasted 163 years. Wonderful work of the colonial art of Quito.
The sky stops crying. Once again there is sun and heat. Walk and perspire, La Compañía stays behind with its pulpits and carved wooden confession boxes... and Plaza Grande?, must be close; why, is it just intuition or maybe is something more, some indication: the domes of the Cathedral?, the Ecuadorian flag that proudly flames in the highest of the Palace of Government?
There are just a few meters left -ten or maybe twenty - to arrive to the heart of that city founded on the ruins of the north capital of the Inca's Empire and that was named San Francisco de Quito by the first conquerors. La Plaza Grande or Plaza de la Independencia is so close that one can feel the murmur of the people standing there. There are not more questions.
every corner. Enjoying the view, contemplating the immense Cathedral
with its domes
and steeples and its facade in which reads: "it is glory
of Quito the discovery of the Amazon river"; admiring the
Palace of Government with their Hussar - severe, petrified - that
guard the main door and feeling moved watching the monument to
the Freedom, with its marble base and its brass figures.
El panecillo of Quito
The Virgin has wings but doesn't fly. Standing calm above the world, in the summit of a hill from which she watches over, examines and observes with benevolent expression the orange tiles, the colonial or Gothic steeples and the big squares of that city that ends at the base of the hills.
Their watchtower was a temple of adoration to the sun in the prehispanic time; then called Yavirac, today, everybody knows this place as El Panecillo and from its summit the city looks like an immense and multicolored mantel of houses and buildings and a mess of white, black, red, multicolor points that never stop moving.
From El Panecillo
- where the Virgin of Quito, a replica in fused aluminum of the
Apocalyptic Virgin made by Bernardo of Legardo (XVII century)
is, the immense contrast between the old city and the modern city
is visible. The
large houses become buildings, the narrow and paved streets get
wider, the steeples get smaller. The only one thing that doesn't
change is the sky that will always be transparent blue. A mountain
blue. A Quito' blue.
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