Quito: The Plaza Grande and the Basilica



October 7, 2013

So I leave my hotel in the Historical District and take a short stroll to the Plaza Grande.  A military band is tooting a mid-day concert in front of the Presidential Palace.  Colorful colonial style municipal structures and churches surround the busy plaza.

I continue my stroll down several narrow streets lined with buildings coated in pastel colors – light blue, beige, bright yellow.  Colonial and modern style “flower-potted” balconies adorn the facades.  Storefront signs announce “Desayuno – Almuerzo” – Breakfast and Lunch is served. 

A typical lunch “menu” consists of a goblet of fresh fruit juice (melon or guava or pineapple), a plate of chicken or fish with rice, fries, lentils, fried banana, a small salad, and desert – all for “un dollar cinquenta,” a buck fifty.  Usually, at these luncheonettes, I am the only “gringo” sitting amongst the locals.  Well, I didn’t come to Ecuador for Subway, Swenson’s or Starbucks.    

 And how convenient the money!  The official currency of Ecuador is the American Dollar!  Greenbacks! Dollares!  The small change is a mixture of USA coins and Ecuador coins with equal denominations and equal acceptance. The Sacagawea one dollar US coin is ubiquitous and sensible.

Far in the distance, atop a steep hill (Quito is all steep hills), the twin towers of a cathedral beckon the curious.

The massive Basilica del Voto National was built over several decades beginning in 1926 in a pure Gothic architectural design. The interior vaults and columns are reminiscent of the best of Europe.  The variegated ornamentation of the towers seems totally Baroque.

Careful observation of the details reveals traditional elements of “Ecuador.”  For example, in a side chapel stands a statue of graceful Mary and Child.  Maria wears a ….. *   Also, the exterior gargoyles of the church depict …. *

And what is the explanation for the huge six-pointed star at the very top of the main entrance? The Star of David? The ancient male-female dichotomy  of Hindu observance? **

After my strenuous stroll, I deserve a taxi ride back to the hotel.  The cheerful driver announces the fare, “Dos dollars, por favor.  No mucho. 

*So click on the photo galleries.

** I did a search:

The six-pointed star is the Creator's Star or Star of Creation. Its six points stand for the six days of creation, and are also represent the six attributes of G-d: power, wisdom, majesty, love, mercy and justice.

This star is the same as the Star of David, a symbol of Judaism and modern-day Israel. The six-pointed star is of ancient origin and is used in many other religions with a variety of meanings.

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