A Fascinating Visit to Carmen Alto Church

The city of Quito is a bustling city in the north-central region of Ecuador and is steeped in history and culture, making it a popular destination with tourists. Even though more than a million people live in Quito, and this number is increased by local and international tourists to the city each year, there are some attractions in this hive of activity that remain untouched by development and almost frozen in time. One of these breathtaking attractions is the Carmen Alto Church and monastery.

Santa Mariana de Jesus decided to give her life for the salvation of Quito and crucified herself. Her wish and the prophecy made by the Virgin of Quito was fulfilled when the Carmen Alto Church and monastery was constructed on the site that was once her home. The church and monastery was designed by Marcos Guerra, a Jesuit brother, and the exterior of the church was planned and constructed as creatively and artistically as the interior. It was completed in 1653. In 1661, the monastery of the Carmen Alto Church was given to the Carmelite Order to use and has remained under their care ever since. The monastery can only house a maximum of twenty-one nuns and instead of being only focused on serving and assisting nobility as in the past, the Carmelite Order welcomes everyone to the church and monastery. To generate a little income for the church and for their livelihood, the nuns sell agricultural products to the public, such as natural medicines, herbs, honey and wine.

The exterior of the church is decorated with detailed carvings and has remained in wonderful condition, even though earthquakes have tested the strength of the walls a few times. Inside, visitors will be able to view breathtaking carvings on the pulpit, altar and around the church, all hand carved by the well known artist Diego de Robles. Breathtaking carvings and figures, done by Bernardo de Legardo, can also be seen throughout the church, and special attractions within the monastery, such as the home of Santa Mariana de Jesus, humble visitors. Although the monastery was built on the location of her home, the gardens, squares, the cross on which she crucified herself all hold secrets of her life and death, which takes visitors on a religious and historical adventure. Not only will visitors learn about the buildings, but also get to understand the lives, goals and mission of the Carmelite Order.