After staying for two nights (one for Taylor) in the pueblo Yaruqui near the airport, we took a bus to Quito to explore the city more.
Our first stop, was the Basílica del Voto Nacional (Church of the National Vow). It is the largest neo-Gothic church in the Americas. Neo-Gothic is an architectural style that originated in the 19th century, which was a revival of Gothic and other medieval architectural styles. It’s characterized by pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, and mock fortifications.
We walked from our AirBnB in the neighborhood La Floresta to get to the church and it took about an hour, maybe less. We felt pretty safe walking there, though our camera was packed in our PacSafe backpack.
The city decided to build the church in 1883-1884, but it wasn’t completed until almost 100 years later in 1988. Building the church didn’t even start until 1892.
The church uses Ecuadorian animals as it’s gargoyles. Much to my enjoyment. You can walk around the church for free and see the spectacular iguanas, tortoises, tigers, and armadillos that surround the lower level facade. The upper level, which is visible if you take the tour of the basilica, the gargoyles are birds such as ravens, peacocks, and the fierce duck.
You can view the sanctuary for $2, which will let you see the interior with statues of the apostles. We opted instead to pay $2 to go up into the towers of church. This let us go up both clock towers and the tower in the back of the church.
The first set of stairs will lead you to a balcony to see the stained glass windows at eye level, and into the sanctuary below.
The next set of stairs will take you to above the sanctuary, where you may now walk across the arched ceiling courtesy of a rickety and questionably stable platform. We were passing a group as we went and I stood next to a support for the railing-rope. Support may be a generous word for this. More accurately, I stood next to a loosely nailed in post and hoped there was enough room for the group to pass.
Now in the back of the church, you can ascend up a steep latter to the back tower.
If you were scared of the rickety platform above the concrete vaulted ceiling, you are definitely not going to like this next part.
From this lower platform, there is another steep ladder to the top of this tower. This is definitely not a ladder for people who are afraid of heights. The view on top is pretty great though. You will be higher in the clock towers, but the clock towers do not offer as much of an unrestricted panorama.
From there we returned to the rickety platform bridge which now seemed much less intimidating and continued on our exploration of Quito. The cost of admission was definitely worth it, if for nothing more than the laughing at how ridiculously steep the ladder was we climbed up to the back tower. The view of the city was spectacular despite being a cloudy and rainy day.