We piled onto the small bus and headed for the “old town” area—know as el Centro Histórico. I was grateful we hadn’t tackled this area on our own—what a jumble of narrow, congested streets and wide, cobbled plazas lined with churches, monasteries, mansions, and colorful houses with balconies. The southern end features 3 large squares: the Plaza de la Independencia (a.k.a., Plaza Grande), Plaza San Francisco, and Plaza Santo Domingo. We stopped at several cathedrals; I’m not a huge fan of ornate cathedrals, so I didn’t really make note of each of these. (When the Spanish invaded the Incan empire in this area, the Incans destroyed all of their structures to prevent their occupation. As a result, the architecture in Quito is decidedly post-colonial.) Although still a church, one rather secular structure—the Basílica del Voto Nacional—was a whimsical exception. The tallest church in Ecuador, thanks to its two towers about 350’ tall, the Basilíca was built in a lively neo-Gothic style—a delightful melange of spires, turrets, parapets, arches, gables, and stained-glass windows. The gargoyles, drawn from indigenous Ecuadorean fauna and avifauna such as monkeys, jaguars, turtles, and albatrosses, are a contemporary departure from the more typical mythical creatures.
Below are two photos of the Basílica’s gargoyles, all of which really caught my fancy. First—2 photos without enhancements. Can you find and identify the animals? (Click on a photo to see a larger version; then use your browser’s “back” button to return to this page.)
Here’s a little help, via red arrows and cropped photos. The first photos shows the placement of these beauties. In the next row of photos, you can see (left), monkeys (center), and jaguars and a crocodile (right, with 2 jaguars on the left and the croc in the lower right).
Next, we have a parrot (2nd row, left), an albatross (2nd row, right), and 2 creatures (3rd row) that I’m not sure about (iguanas? something from the Amazon?). The first photo shows their placement with arrows.
And two last gargoyle photos that are pretty clear in their own right: armadillos (left) and marine iguanas (right).