Plaza de San Francisco

In the city of Quito you will find the cobbled Plaza de San Francisco - one of the oldest and most beautiful sights there are in the city. Behind it towers the striking white Monastery of San Francisco. For a long time the Plaza was a location where many native people would come to engage in trade. Today you can take a seat at one of the cafés located here and watch the many tourists and Quiteno people strolling along as they get on with their business. The Plaza also affords you a wonderful view of the southern part of Quito because it is situated on an incline. Apparently this is because the plaza was built over an Incan temple.

The monastery is also worth a visit and here you will find yourself surrounded by intricate golden designs of angels with a sun-shaped face. There is also plenty of beautiful artwork inside the building that dates back to the 16th century. Upon entering you will likely notice many images of the sun. These were used mainly to try and link the native sun god to the Christian faith as part of efforts to persuade the native people to join the Christian religion. Something else you should look out for is the equally complex and intricate furniture that is found here. This furniture is unique - not only in its design but also because of the beautiful pearls that cover the wood. You will have a chance to explore the monastery during the morning between 8 and 10am and sometimes later during the day at about 3pm. Today the baroque monastery remains one of the biggest structures to have been built in Quito, having taken Franciscan missionary Joedco Ricke and his team over seventy years to complete.

Some of the other paintings and relics that were originally housed at the monastery can now be viewed in the Museo Franciscano due to their value and historical meaning. Altogether the temple of San Francisco contains as many as four thousand objects including paintings, sculptures, furniture and linen cloth, so make sure you have a couple of hours spare. You will start your tour of the museum from the gallery where the choir stands before being led through all the exhibition rooms and ending in the old brewery that was built in 1566 by the friars.

 



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