El Panecillo - Home of the Apocalyptic Virgin Statue   Colonial Central Quito

Story of the Virgin of El Panecillo

El Panecillo - Bread Loaf Hill - emerges with the aluminum statue of the Virgin of Quito in all of its 134 1/2 feet high from the south side of Quito Colonial. The hill itself rises at 9,900 feet or 3,016 meters above sea level.

In 1976 this monument emerged with a replica of the sculpture created of 7,000 pieces of aluminum, the largest of its kind in the world.

The only figure in the world of the Virgin with wings...she comes to us from the 18th century inspired by the description of her in the Book of the Apocalypse.

Shungoloma is the original name given in Quichua, which means "hill of the heart." How fitting that the Spanish claimed it for the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

Other names have been attached to her, but the Virgin of Quito rings the most common. Everyone in Quito knows that it replicates the original of Bernardo Legarda. That explains why she's also known as the Legarda Virgin.

Getting to Her

I always thumb a taxi, as danger lurks as you walk, but then, that's true of all the south side. Quito colonial tours usually include this treasure or offer it separately.

Once up there, enter the monument and check out the mini museum. Then ascend the narrow stairs...definitely not for the handicapped, but oh so worth it for the capable. There's three beautifully remodeled floors, and they're working on the fourth. You just might get excited about the spectacular view.

Check out the view from the whole area. Ask which volcano in the distance is which, and you could linger over a cup of your favorite drink or have a bite to eat.


A statue of the Virgin of Quito on El Panecillo sells at the daily mercado or in the colonial area craft stores.

You really can't beat a gift of this statue as a devotional visual aid for Catholics or as a souvenir. If you don't mind inflated prices because of the high volume of tourists, crafts sell at the booths here.

If a procession like this one of Carmen Alto for the feast of Our Lady of Carmel - which takes place in July - happens by, you're in for a treat.

We descended El Panecillo down the narrow concrete steps singing and praying all the way to Carmen Alto on Garcia Moreno Street.


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