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Quito churches & cathedrals

Hotels in Quito

Quito Monasteries

There are five venerable monasteries in Quito, all five of them paying strict observance to the life of the cloister.


Facade of the Carmen Alto monastery in Quito Ecuador In 1577, under Fray Pedro de la Peña, the first convent of nuns was established in the city, on the north­west corner of the main square: the Convent of the Immaculate Conception. The church itself' was completed in the first half of the seventeenth century, the walls of the nave were covered with carved and gilded wood, and fifteen fine altar-pieces were installed. The altar-piece of the high altar was decorated with sixteen large mirrors, framed in handsome moldings.


The church was founded in 1596 by Doña Francisca de la Cueva, in the hope of counteracting her husband's excommunication as a result of certain abuses of authority. Fray Antonio Rodriguez, a lay Franciscan from Quito and a great architect, drew up the plans for the church and was responsible for its construction. Of particular interest is the elliptical dome that covers it, the eight-.sided dome over the presbytery, the cluster of smaller .secondary domes and the bell tower.


The convent of the nuns of Santa Catalina de Sena, of the order of St. Domingo, was founded in 1594, during the Sales Tax Revolt. In 1613 it came to occupy the spot where it stands today, in the houses that used to belong to Lorenzo de Cepeda, a brother of Santa Teresa de Jesus. The original adobe building was improved towards the end of the seventeenth century, and a new roof was added in 1794. A final restora­tion later on removed much of the ornament from the church.


The old or upper Carmen, also known as the Carmen of St. Joseph, was established in 1653 in the house that had belonged to Santa Mariana de Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy made by the Virgin of Quito. The Jesuit brother Marcos Guerra drew up the plans and was responsible for the construction of the church and the monastery. The main facade of the church looks out over the atrium. The vaulted nave is cuadrangular, and has magnificent altar-pieces. Here we can find some 'of the most perfect expressions of colonial sculpture in Quito, such as the enormous group of the Transi­tion of the Virgin, with polychrome carvings by Bernardo de Legarda of the Virgin lying down, watched by the apostles with expressions of pain and wonder on their faces. The Nativity also' contains some wonderful figures, many of them also by Legarda.


The new or Lower Carmen was es­tablished in Quito when the monas­tery of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Latacunga was destroyed in the earthquake of 1698. Bishop Paredes directed the building with extraordinary energy, and his funeral in 1745 was the first official act to take place there. His statue is to be seen in a niche over the presbytery. The altar-screen is beautiful, ba­roque, with a canopy of silver and a figure of Our Lady of Carmen in the center carved by the nun Magdalena Davalos, a brilliant sculptress and painter who lived in the convent in 1742. Her figure of the dying Virgin is especially brilliant. The Chapter Hall, the workroom, sick-rooms, sacristy and choirs hold the treasure of the convent.














By far the best way to see the Galapagos Islands is on a small cruise ship or on a tourist oriented yacht.
Airport Transfer from Tababela Quito
Tours in Quito: fantastic tours to historical sites, museums, colonial churches, artisan galleries and a number of activities to choose from.