quito

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When we were in Otavalo, a short drive south of the Colombian border, I spotted a wool shop that I wanted to check out and then promptly forgot the following day.  Fate must have been thinking that I was in need of a new jacket because Casa Helbling, the hostel we stayed at in Quito, was directly across from the exact same store, Hilana.  Not only do they sell beautiful wool, they make a well-designed selection of wool jackets, slippers, scarves, mittens and much more.  I believe the designer is French but all the materials are sourced from Ecuador.

It was actually Tom who spotted this jacket and suggested I try it on.  The sleeves were a tiny bit short but with a bit of chatting the lady at the shop managed to get the sleeves lengthened in 24 hours.  And I came away with a custom tailored, 100% wool jacket and a couple of skeins of lovely Ecuadorian yarn for $60 USD.

Jacket from Hilana

After saying good-bye to our lovely Colombian Tia Marta,  we headed off into Quito.  We managed to find a really great hostel, Casa Helbling, where hot water actually comes out of the taps in the sink!  We were sold and hunkered down for about a week to explore the city.

Quito’s old city is probably one of the best kept colonial towns you will find.  With cobbled streets, tiny alleyways and a bustling vibe it is hard to resist this old town’s charms.  It also has about a million churches!  Ok, maybe not a million but it has more than its fair share of holy homes.  We are not the type of travellers who have to see everything there is to see (otherwise we wouldn’t need to come back) so we decided to take in just a few of the churches.

Started in 1605, La Compañía de Jesús, Ecuador’s most ornate church was built over 160 years by the Jesuits and is decorated with some great works of art.  Oh yeah and supposedly 7 tonnes of 23 k gold was used to gild the entire inside of this house of God. Known as the most beautiful church in Ecuador, we felt that of all the churches you can visit in Quito, this is the one to see.

Church Facade

The huge paintings on the pillars inside depict the Prophets (whose eyes eerily follow you as you walk away) while the entry way showcases a massive painting of Hell and the Last Judgment which is sure to scare most people into confessing their sins and then some. And, like many churches, La Compañía de Jesús has its very own patron saint, Mariana de Jesus. She devoted herself to God and claimed this church as her home – to this day her remains are venerated in the main altarpiece and lots of religious paraphernalia with her image can be conveniently purchased at the gift shop.

Peeking in the Church

We were properly awed and walked around the church in a bit of a daze, 7 tonnes is a huge amount of gold and seeing it all over the walls, altarpieces even part of the ceiling was quite a sight.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos… or so we were told. Deciding that this rule did not apply to us, Tom managed to snap a few sneaky photos though they don’t really do the church justice.

Stolen photo of Golden Church