The name of this South American country gives a hint as to where it is located as it translates to “Republic of the Equator.” Ecuador is located in the northwestern part of South America and is bounded by Colombia, Peru, and the Pacific Ocean.
What’s remarkable about this country is that it also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific. These volcanic islands are located at a distance of 906 kilometers (563 miles) to the west of the mainland.
The country’s population is equally diverse as most of the more than 17 million people living here are considered to be “mestizos,” people with mixed European and Indigenous ancestry. Over 3.1 million people live in its capital and largest city, Quito.
Let’s explore some of the most famous buildings in Ecuador, landmarks in an extremely fascinating country in South America.
1. New Cathedral of Cuenca
The New Cathedral of Cuenca is officially known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and is the main church in the city of Cuenca. This is the largest city in the Azuay Province in the south-central part of the country.
The original plan of the cathedral came about in the year 1873 when a German friar from the Alsace region named Juan Bautista Stiehle (1829-1899) arrived in the city.
Construction of the building didn’t start until 1885 and it took 90 years to be completed in 1975. The predominant architecture of the building is the Romanesque Revival style. The fascinating domes are a prominent element in the city’s skyline.
2. The Virgin Mary on El Panecillo
Quito is an amazing city for a wide variety of reasons. Its located at an average elevation of 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level which makes it the second-highest capital in the world after La Paz in Bolivia.
It also features several hills, many of which are of volcanic origin, and which provide astounding panoramas of the city.
One of these hills is called “El Panecillo,” a hill that stands about 200 meters (656 feet) above the rest of the city and is situated just southwest of the city’s historical center.
This hill was topped with a statue of the Lady Mary, a monument that stands 45 meters (147 feet) tall and which overlooks the city. It’s by far the best location in the city to get amazing views of Quito.
Hiking up this hill is possible, but requires quite some effort, so taking a taxi up the hill and hiking down might be the best solution.
3. Basílica del Voto Nacional
One of the most fascinating buildings in Ecuador that you’ll see from the top of El Panecillo hill is an amazing church named the “Basílica del Voto Nacional” or the “Basilica of the National Vow.”
This astounding cathedral was built in the neo-Gothic architectural style and the start of its construction started in the late 19th-century, but it was only officially consecrated in the year 1988.
With a length of 140 meters (460 feet), a width of 35 meters (115 feet), and a spire height of 115 meters (377 feet), it’s the largest Gothic Cathedral in the Americas.
This notion alone makes visiting this cathedral a must-do activity on your Ecuador / Quito bucket list.
4. Carondelet Palace
Carondelet Palace is one of the most stunning palaces in Ecuador and the official seat of government of the country. It’s located in the heart of Quito and faces Independence Square, the central square in the city.
The Plaza Grande, as this remarkable square is commonly referred to, is the location of many of the city’s most important buildings, including the Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
The original structure on this location has a history that goes back to the year 1570. The current Baroque building was constructed between 1790 and 1801 and was heavily influenced by Spanish architecture.
5. Torre The Point
Torre The Point is not only one of the most fascinating skyscrapers in Guayaquil, the second most popular city in Ecuador, but also the country’s tallest building.
Ecuador isn’t renowned for its towering skyscrapers because the building, which has several purposes as it includes offices, residences, and commercial space, only reaches a height of 137 meters (449 feet).
The tower was designed by a local architect named Chrisitan Wiese and spirals. This was inspired by the Turning Torso skyscraper in Malmö, Sweden, the first twisting building in history.
6. Estadio Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo
Just like every other country in South America, football is the most popular sport in Ecuador. This is emphasized by a stunning arena called the Estadio Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo.
The stadium is the home of football club Barcelona SC and has a seating capacity of 59,283. This makes it the largest stadium in the country.
The stadium is located in Tarqui a northern suburb of Guayaquil and was completed in 1987. It was the venue of the 1993 Copa América final that was won by Argentina.
7. Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco is another remarkable church in Quito. The exterior of the building was designed in the Renaissance architectural style which means it looks rather humble and was completed between 1537 and 1550.
This means that you’re completely blown away when you enter the building because it features a remarkable combination of the Mudejar and Baroque architectural styles, elements completed over a century later in 1680.
The nave and chapels are heavily ornamented and lead up to one of the most amazing high altars you’ll ever come across. The church also holds over 3,500 works of colonial art and the original version of the famous Virgin of Quito statue.
8. La Capilla del Hombre
La Capilla del Hombre translates to “The Chapel Of Man” and although it’s described as a religious structure, it was constructed to serve as an art museum.
It’s located in the Bellavista neighborhood of Quito and majestically overlooks the city. It was designed by famous Ecuadorian painter and sculptor Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919-1999) and was completed between 1995 and 2002.
The building is home to several artworks by Guayasamín and is dedicated to the people of Latin America in general.
9. National Museum of Ecuador
The National Museum of Ecuador is one of the country’s most popular museums and is housed in a glass-plated landmark called the “Casa de la Cultura” in Quito.
It’s home to one of the country’s largest art collections with items ranging from pre-Incan civilizations to modern times. Some of the oldest artifacts date back to a period of 11,000 B.C.
This monumental building is the best place to visit in the country if you want to get a complete overview of the history of Ecuador.
10. Church of la Compañía de Jesús
Church of la Compañía de Jesús or “Church of the Society of Jesus” is commonly known as “la Compañía.” It’s the main Jesuit church in Quito and, like most other Jesuit churches in the world, was modeled after the “Chiesa del Gesù” in Rome.
This means that it features a distinctive Baroque façade and a large central nave that is heavily ornamented with gold leaf. It’s considered to be one of the most significant Baroque buildings in Ecuador.
The large church is another structure that took an incredibly long time to complete because it wasn’t finished until the year 1765, 160 years after construction began in 1605.
This also means that Neoclassical architecture was used to complete some of the later additions, including the Chapel of Saint Mariana de Jesús.