Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quito – Historic Town Center

DSC00740 Arupo tree Quito Ecuador
Arupo Tree in Independence Square, Quito, Ecuador

After our visit to the museum on the equator, I will now take you to the historic town center of Quito.

Quito was established by the Quitu tribe way back in the first millennium. By 980 CE the Quitu were conquered by the Caras Tribe. Between 1534 and 1556, the Spanish invaded the city, executed the ruling tribe’s leader, named the city San Francisco de Quito, and established Roman Catholicism in the city. Drawing on the native tribes for slave labor, the Spanish began construction only weeks after the invasion. The oldest religious building in all of South America is the San Francisco Convent; its unadorned architecture stayed true to its Franciscan roots:

DSC00731 San Francisco cathedral courtyard Quito Ecuador

The attached San Francisco church is a blend of Spanish and Mudéjar architecture and the focal point of the cobblestone square:

DSC00729 San Francisco church Quito Ecuador

The plaza is on the site where the palace of the Incan ruler, Auqui Francisco Tupatauchi, once existed and it was the location where indigenous tribes traded goods for centuries:

DSC00728 Plaza de San Francisco Quito Ecuador

The white domed church is La Compañía de Jesús:

DSC00733 Quito San Francisco Square

From here the steep streets lead to the hill El Panecillo with the statue of the Virgin of Quito:

DSC00727 Plaza de San Francisco Quito Ecuador

Just around the corner from San Francisco Plaza is the Jesuit church La Compañía de Jesús with its beautiful baroque columns :

DSC00735 Quito Ecuador church

DSC00737 Quito Ecuador church pillars

After 300 years of colonial rule, Quito gained independence from the Spanish in 1822 under the command of Simón Bolívar. The city was annexed to Gran Colombia until it dissolved in 1830 when Quito became the capital of Ecuador.

If you are wondering where we saw that beautiful flowering tree in the first photo, it's called the Arupo tree  and we saw it in full bloom in Independence Square:

DSC00739 Independence Square Quito Ecuador
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