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Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito - Exterior and Roof walk

dave2013

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Welcome to the Church of the Sacred Vow on a hill in the Historic Centre of Quito. You cannot go to Quito without seeing this church. That does not mean it is the best or the holiest. It is just the biggest. It might also be the most recent as construction is still ongoing even though it was started over a hundred years ago. I think it cost a buck to get into the large courtyard doors and take an elevator ride to tour the upper decks of the outside of the massive structure. You get a closeup view of the grotesques on the outside and impressive views of various parts of the construction. At one point you can see from the balcony down into the sanctuary of the church proper. You can even walk along the full length of the top of the inner roof to the front of the church and go up further steps to other rooftops and even further into a tall tower. There is no disabled access there though, and you must be prepared to climb lots of steps and stairs. The last climb is nearly straight up on a steel ladder that fits only one person. Once you do reach the top you are treated to a wonderful panoramic view of the city of Quito. Looking nearly straight down at the church courtyard to see the specks of people below you experience the perspective of just how far up you are. The view in different directions lets you observe various volcanic mountains and of course the virgin on the hill. You are nearly as high as the clock tower that you will climb later in your exploring. I don’t think any of the clocks were in sync with reality or each other but they were running and when you did climb the clock tower, at one point you were right behind the clock faces as you climb even higher. Around the side on the front street is a different entrance that will cost about another dollar. This gets you inside the lower level where the sanctuary is. That also is worth seeing and walking around in. Climb to the choir loft, walk the aisles, and sit in the benches. I took lots of photos and videos without any problems. Some locals had no problem being loud (despite the signs) and were actually walking in places that any person who had actually been to a church would know that respect means don’t go there. None of your touring here is escorted by any guides. So you are left to do your own research about what you are seeing. Investigate and read about it first and you will be much more satisfied when you actually walk the steps. We stopped for a while in the restaurant way up in the bowels of the church somewhere. You have a grand view of the city and surrounding valley. A glass of wine and authentic tortillas (that were heated in a microwave) kept us from starving in the early afternoon. The best part was the ongoing renovations by a couple of workers who were carving new pieces for the unfinished items on the outside. The first visit we watched them hand chiseling the large 1/4 pie shape pieces that make up the large circular discs missing along the length of both sides of the church. Two weeks later one of the workers was making small pillar tops that go up near the top of the church along the north east corner. He actually let me do some chiseling on the stone and showed me where it would be placed. Nearly everywhere on the site you could hear the faint sound of the mallet hitting the chisel as the workers plodded onward in their work. If you look carefully you can see some stonework that is almost white as it is freshly carved. These are the more recent pieces because as the stone ages in the weather over the years, it gets darker. The music is by various street musicians in my travels in Ecuador. Traditional haunting melody of the flute is always there, along with drums, violin, charangas, and other noisemakers.

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