Architecture - Ecuador's Historic Legacy
Ecuador is an interesting place filled with history and culture. Long before the arrival of the Spanish and even before the rise of the Incan Empire, it was the home of a number of native Indian tribes. The somewhat meager strongholds of these different chiefdoms were easily overthrown by the powerful Incas when the Incan Empire expanded. However, the mighty Incan Empire was weakened by the laws of succession when Inca emperor Huayna Capac had two sons – each of which wanted to rule the Incan Empire. By this stage a number of the local tribes had intermarried with Incans, but elements of the original Ecuadorian culture still prevailed. On his death, Huayna Capac had his empire divided in half between his two sons. This led to civil war which weakened the empire at one of the most crucial times in the Empire’s history – the arrival of the Spanish. Hence, it was easy for the Spanish to overthrow the local government and to create settlements across the country, which was exactly what they did.
This means that the culture and architecture in Ecuador has seen several different influences over time and, while some of these may not be much more than ancient history, examples of these cultures can still be found in the country. Apart from the somewhat modernized descendents of the original Indian inhabitants of Ecuador, a number of beautiful ruins still survive that give interesting insight into the early peoples that once lived here. A few examples of striking and intelligent Incan buildings also remain. However the most commonly found architecture in Ecuador is probably that which was built during the time that Ecuador was a Spanish colony. This Spanish colonial architecture can be found in every city and town that was ever visited by the Spanish – from the humblest monastery to the newest and most modern of cities. The Spanish look and feel is undeniable and yet, the way that the elements have aged and worn these edifices gives it a somewhat unique Ecuadorian feel.
More recent years have seen a number of newer buildings depart from the classic Spanish colonial style that typifies the region. Modern architects often drawn inspiration from current world-wide trends and the bigger and more modern cities in Ecuador may have newer and older sections with very different architectural styles.