San Marcos – Tranquility, History and Culture in Quito

As one of the oldest neighborhoods of the historic city of Quito, San Marcos features some superb examples of colonial and early republican architecture, set in beautifully landscaped gardens. Visitors to the San Marcos Barrio will discover elegant homes, peaceful churches, tranquil courtyards, flower filled balconies, fine-dining restaurants, vibrant cultural venues and fascinating museums, amidst a pervading sense of culture and history. It is in this picturesque suburb of a bustling and thriving city, that many renowned Ecuadorian artists have made their home.

Quito’s Calle Junin leads to the charming San Marcos Square with its 17th century parish church where visitors can view selected paintings and sculptures from the Quito School of Art. Quito has a long history of artistic talent, with artists in the 17th and 18th centuries breaking away from the trend of copying the art of Europe, to create a unique style which came to be known as the Quito School of Art or Quitenian School. Leading this breakaway movement was a Catholic priest named Jose Olmos, more commonly referred to as Pampite, who used art to capture the region’s indigenous heritage, particularly the suffering of the local population under Spanish rule. Consequently, the art of the time documented the effects of physical enslavement and the influence of religion in people’s lives during this tumultuous time.

Another attraction in the San Marcos Barrio is the Museo Manuela Sáenz, dedicated to the memory of Quito-born revolutionary hero and mistress of the South American revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar. The museum displays some personal effects and documents the complex history of the woman Bolívar referred to as the ‘liberator of the liberator’ after she helped him escape from an assassination attempt in 1828.

The Muñoz Mariño Watercolor Museum displays the works of the artist Oswaldo Muñoz Mariño who is widely considered to be the most outstanding watercolorist to come out of Ecuador in the twentieth century. Born in Riobamba, Ecuador in December 1923, Muñoz Mariño has captured the heart and soul of Ecuador for others to enjoy. In addition to a selection of this renowned artist’s works, the Museum displays the works of contemporary national and international artists who express themselves through the mediums of watercolors and drawing.

In a city with so much to offer, it may be difficult to decide what to see and do when visiting Quito. For travelers who appreciate history and culture, a visit to San Marcos will be a memorable one.