The Basilica of the National Vow (Spanish: Basilica del Voto Nacional) is a Roman Catholic church that is a focal point in the historic center of Quito Ecuador. This is a great place to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Getting to the top of the basilica is quite an adventure but also an excellent way to see Quito! The climb to the upper part of the basilica is not for the-faint-at-heart. Those afraid of heights in our group could not do the climb. The ascent is not that strenuous but if you can climb a ladder than you can do this climb. That is if your mind will let you climb a ladder 98 feet high.
Even though the basilica looks like it has been around for many centuries is relatively new. The idea to build the basilica was proposed in 1883, as a monument, to be a perpetual reminder of the consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart (the representation of Jesus’ divine love for humanity). Construction began in 1887 as a religious commitment in the name of Ecuador. Technically the basilica is still not finished even though Pope John Paul II consecrated the church. If you look closely at the first picture, you will see that there are many empty niches with missing statues. There are also places with missing fixtures but they weren't stolen. Rather they are just parts of the church still to come. Local lore states that if the church is completed, we will see the end of the world.
The Basilica is a work of neo-Gothic Ecuadorian architecture. Said to be the grandest example in the new world. Seeing the church reminds you of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York or the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. One element that sets the Basilica del Voto Nacional apart from the other two is the substitution of the classic gargoyles by reptiles and native amphibians of Ecuador. You will see iguanas, tortoises, armadillos and even crocodiles to name a few.
On the third floor, there is a quaint coffee shop with an incredible view and fantastic coffee. Photo worthy coffee, to say the least. If your nerves are a bit frazzled from the climb, not to worry, they have coffee “con alcohol” to take care of that.
I also have to mention the two young boys who set up shop at the entrance shining shoes. My husband said we all have athletic shoes on, and they replied that they would get the white parts clean. He said no thanks but gave them each a few coins. He asked their ages and the oldest boy said 12 and the other 11 years old. I requested to take their picture and they gleefully said yes. Then the eldest told me that today was his 13th birthday and asked where his “regalo” (gift) was? He laughed, I laughed, their smiles made our day.
If visiting Quito, this is a not-to-be-missed site! Have you visited the Basilica? What did you think? Is Quito Ecuador on your bucket list? I would love to hear from you below in the comments.
Be sure to read visiting the equator in Quito.
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