The first post on our beloved Latin America is dedicated to Ecuador. We invite you to enjoy the fascinating gargoyles on the Voto Nacional Basilica in Quito, amazing figures that our son Manuel discovered on one of his many trips around the world, where he sometimes finds peculiar and surprising gargoyles, like the ones in Indonesia that we share with you.
The basilica is in the city centre and is shrouded in legends and stories. For example, it’s said that the world will come to an end on the day when building work on the church is finally completed.
Regarded as the largest Neo-Gothic church in Ecuador, and even in America, the building is consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was proposed by priest and deputy of the Republic Julio Matovelle in 1883. The project was given to French architect Emilio Tarlier, who took his inspiration from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. When you look at it, you can clearly see the European influence, it’s similar to Burgos Cathedral (Spain). It also looks like the Neo-Gothic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.
In 1884 the National Congress approved the building work and the first stone was laid in 1890. The structure was completed in 1924, the year when mass started to be celebrated in the central nave and the bells were rung in the towers. The building was erected with pink stone from the Pichincha mountain and grey stone from the parish of Lloa.
The Basilica was blessed by Pope John Paul II in January 1985 and it was officially inaugurated on 12 July 1988. From the top of the Basilica you can admire the wonderful city of Quito.
Gargoyles and grotesques
The gargoyles on the Basilica are one of its attractions. What’s so original and extraordinary is that you can see depictions of Ecuador’s exotic fauna. Plus, alongside the gargoyles, you can also see other figures (grotesques) decorating the façades. A fascinating and unusual iconography decorating a church, allowing you to appreciate and enjoy a fantastic display, both in formal and typological terms, of Ecuador’s native fauna.
Animals include alligators, tortoises, blue-footed boobies, armadillos, monkeys, pumas, foxes, magnificent frigatebirds, pelicans, falcons or eagles, parrots, albatrosses, long-crested iguanas, rams, tapirs and, of course, the figure of the condor on the tower, the national symbol of Ecuador.
We invite you to enjoy some of these beautiful and impressive gargoyles and grotesques.
Doctora en Historia del Arte. Investigadora especializada en el estudio de las gárgolas.