The Basilica of the Sacred Heart and Oblates Convent on Carchi y Venezuela Streets - built in 1892 under the presidency of Gabriel Garcia Moreno - towers majestically on a hill across from El Panecillo and creates a landmark.
The grand tour on your own does not provide the details and explanations of a guide... like explanation of the architecture, where rests the heart of Garcia Moreno, and other gems.
Sadly, the clocks no longer work nor gong the hour on the hour. All you can hear is a digital "ring" at 7:00AM. I used to love waking up to the gentle 4:00AM gong.
The 24 internal chapels represent the provinces of the country. The heart of Garcia Moreno is enshrined here, but not readily open to the public... it's in a chapel all its own where the image of the Sacred Heart is encased - the one used for the consecration of Ecuador.
The massive building contains a mausoleum accessible from the front of the Basilica where little shops line the outside next to Venezuela Street all the way to the mighty doors of the church.
An elevator to the left side of the front door inside the fence will lift you to the balcony for a fee of $2.00.
I can't believe the changes since the last time I clambered up! On the third floor awaits a craft shop. From there, take the steps up to the next floor to the little cafe that will gladly serve you lunch or a cup of anything on hand...spectacular view in Quito of Quito!
You don't need to ride up in the slow elevator that awaits all the way to the right as you enter. Steps, or grados, give an option - for the physically able, of course!
The ticket takers will point the way.
Tickets to ascend sell at the little shop to the left of the towers at the front entrance to the basilica.
The twin towers present a landmark of the historic center from almost anywhere in the city or from the air.
El Panecillo easily toured from the twin-tower basilica with a guide, rises ready for you to photograph from the high balcony of the towers straight across from the basilica.
For the procession of March 25 all the way to El Panecillo - from the huge door facing Venezuela through Venezuela and Garcia Moreno Streets - check out my pilgrimages page.
I've joined right in and loved it, singing hymns and praying all the way.
A statue of the Virgin sometimes leads the procession in a popemobile built for Pope John Paul II when he made his pilgrimage to Quito. Otherwise, able-bodied men volunteer and take turns carrying her on a platform. (Pope Francis recently visited.)
The ritual concludes with an open-air Mass on this famous hill.
In 2006, a rainbow formed around the sun at the beginning of the Mass, and disappeared as soon as the Mass ended...wow!
With a tour guide, the ride back takes no second thought. Without one, you need a taxi or the bus. Walking back to the colonial center is not recommended except in a group, as danger lurks.
Again, check that the orange-license-plated taxi exposes a number on the windshield, the company name on the side, and a running meter anytime you ride one... You don't want to be at the mercy of the driver.
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