2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage
VIVA CUENCA

VIVA CUENCA!

My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

QUITO: PART II: HISTORIC QUITO'S CHURCHES

As I mentioned in my previous post, my son, Marc and I, met at the airport in Quito, and spent most of the next two days in the historic district of Quito.  The historic district is about ten miles long and three miles wide.  UNICEF had designated Quito as the first site in the world for such historic preservation, and the district has forty churches within its perimeter.

While eating breakfast at Casa El Eden, some of the other travelers had mentioned that El Presidente Correa would be making a speech from the terrace of the Presidential Palace.  Mario, the owner of Casa El Eden had informed us the night before that Monday was the last day of Quito's festivities surrounding Quito's Independence Day from Spain, so our first stop of the day was to return to Plaza Independencia from the evening before and mill with the crowd waiting to see and hear El Presidente.



The flags fluttered under the warm sun.


El Presidente Correa in the center below


Notice the soldiers in the clock tower below, as if they were mechanical soldiers in a glockenspiel ready to move in and out like toy soldiers at the sound of the clock as it strikes on the hour.




The soldiers and military band performed and marched continuously along, around, and through the plaza. 

A Few Churches of Quito

I have visited a great many churches this past year of 2015 from Rome, Venice, Florence, Lima, and Quito.  I had visited the Quito historic area almost five years ago, and there is no doubt that the assembly of churches in Quito are magnificent. On this visit, I did not take as many church photos with the belief that I would be duplicating many of my shots from my 2011 trip.  Now that I'm home, I can't find the photos from my earlier visit anywhere on my computer. To complicate matters further, the most beautiful church, La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus was open for viewing. However, preparations were being made for a conference that evening in the church, and security would not allow me to take any pictures of the interior.  I also was unable to take photos of the interior of Iglesia de Santo Domingo; because while I viewed the interior, a mass was taking place, and it would have been inappropriate for me during a service to be snapping pictures.

As an introduction of historical background I will discuss the La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, even if I don't have any photos of it. The church was founded by the Jesuits, and seven  tons of gold embellished the church's interior. Gold was used to honor the preeminence of God, and the preeminent temporal power of Spain in the fifteenth and much of the sixteenth century. Quito had once been the northern capital of Inca domains, and after the Spaniards had conquered the Incas, it continued to hold sway in the north as part of the Spanish Vice-royalty,  Meanwhile, Lima, was the primer and central capital of the Spanish empire in South America, just as it had been under the Incas.

Surprisingly, the churches in Quito are far more impressive and numerous than those in Lima, considering how much larger Lima is, and the fact it was the major capital of the Spanish Viceroyalty. Buenos Aries' larger and older churches also lack the opulence found in some of Quito's churches.  The Spaniards never found the large amounts of gold at the levels they were seeking. The indigenous would often send the conquistadors on long distant flights of fancy in search of gold and mythical cities of gold.  Yet, from what I have seen in some of these churches in Quito, the Spaniards certainly were finding gold sufficient to adorn some of their largest churches in this part of South America.


The exterior of La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus leaves much to be desired from the perspective that it can use a good cleaning. One would never guess that the most lavish church in South America extends just beyond its doors. The intricate gold altar, reflects Moorish geometrical figures, Italian Renaissance style, and European baroque architecture, with inlays of indigenous nature and animal motifs, often created by local Quechua (indigenous) artists.  Not only the Spaniards and the Quechua, but also the Italian, Moorish, Flemish, and Dutch artists, artisans, architects, and engineers produced in the churches a baroque style unique to Quito.


I have interior photos of only three churches in Quito's historic area.  

This is an exterior shot of Iglesia de San Francisco.



This next photo is the interior of Iglesia de San Francisco. Considering that the altar and interior of La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus was finished in the most gold at seven tons, Iglesia de San Fransisco looks like it wasn't far behind.




The photos below are from the Metropolita Cathedral de Quito:




A  beautiful pulpit in the photo below


Below is the ceiling in the cathedral looking from the altar toward the rear of the church at the splendid pipes of the pipe organ.




Basilica de Bota de Quito



The basilica has a majestic Gothic exterior.  De Bota de Quito was built in the nineteenth century, and was not completed until almost the end of the last century.



 The central altar is a contrast from the earlier large churches of Quito adorned in their gold and intricate sculptures and filament work.  As shown below, the interior is more reminiscent of the Gothic structures in France and much of Northern Europe--elegantly designed with their vaulted ceilings, but stark in their interior simplicity. 



The stain glass windows below are beautiful, and add color and vibrancy 
to the gray stone interior.



The Stations of the Cross can be found in practically any Roman Catholic church, and in some of the older denominational Protestant Churches.  There are fourteen stations for the devotee to stop, pray, and meditate upon each of the incidences that took place in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.  The stations here were angled from the pillars rather than flushed parallel to the pillars, which was an artistic touch that I have not previously encountered.  I assume the pillars were staggerdly indented with the intent to accommodate the stations for such an effect, in which all the stations could be viewed down the line simultaneously.





The grandeur of the vaulted ceilings belie the simple church altar and its surroundings of flags and drapery.  


A magnificent structure reminiscent of the Washington Cathedral in Washington, D.C.  The lights from the church towers can be viewed from the core of central Quito at night.





















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