Legend says if this neo-Gothic church is ever officially completed, the world will come to an end.
Basilica of the National Vow
The Basilica of the National Vow is a Roman Catholic church located in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilique in the Americas and is the door to the Historic Center of Quito. The spectacular 360 ° view of the city from the towers, is a must-do when in Quito. In it rest the remains of two of the most important residents of the country, guarded against above by our representative fauna (such as the condor, the turtle or the iguana).
This church, known as the second-highest religious structure in the Americas, remains unfinished, as its legend tells us that if its construction were finished, the world would end.
On a hill in the northeastern part of the Old Town looms this massive Gothic church, Quito’s largest, built over several decades beginning in 1892. The highlight is the basiliques towers, which you can climb if you have the nerve – the ascent requires crossing a rickety wooden plank inside the main roof and climbing steep stairs and ladders (with solid handrails) to the top.
On the outside of the church, visitors will see a variety of gargoyles that have been created through inspiration found in the animals of Ecuador, featuring iguanas, tortoises, and armadillos. Entrance fees to a few parts of the church are asked, but this gives visitors access to a large portion of the church, including the twenty-four chapels, clock tower, and bell tower. Refreshments can be enjoyed on the third floor of the church after exploring the beauty and magnificence of the Basilica del Voto Nacional.
In 1883, Father Julio Matovelle began drumming up support for the construction of a massive basilica in the heart of Quito, Ecuador. The president threw his weight behind the project, and Congress designated 12,000 pesos for its creation.
Still, it was a slow process. Pope Leo XIII approved the construction in 1887, and the French architect Emilio Tarlier was brought in to design the church. Tarlier, inspired by the Notre Dame and Bourges cathedrals, began his designs in 1890. Finally, on July 10, 1892, the first stone was placed.
It took more than 30 years to build the basilica. The first mass and the first ringing of the bells took place in 1924. Pope John Paul II blessed the church in 1985, and it was consecrated and finally inaugurated in 1988.
With more than a century between its conception and inauguration, you’d expect the Basílica del Voto Nacional to be an impressive structure indeed. And it doesn’t disappoint. The church is 460 feet long and 115 feet wide, with its two frontal towers reaching a height of 377 feet.
The interior features one long central nave with two smaller adjoining naves, with a dome and stained glass windows. Around the central nave are 24 small chapels, each dedicated to a province of Ecuador. A crypt and a pantheon are also connected to the basilica.
Outside, meanwhile, is a series of gargoyles that might look more familiar than the fantastical grotesques that normally adorn the facades of churches and cathedrals. The gargoyles of the Basílica del Voto Nacional all represent animals endemic to Ecuador, including iguanas, tortoises, armadillos. and condors.
Technically speaking, the Basílica del Voto Nacional has never been completed, at least not officially. According to local legend, this permanent state of incompletion is due to a fairly weighty premise: if the basilica is ever completed, the world will come to an end.
Location: Basilica of the National Vow is located at Carchi and Venezuela street.
Schedule: 9 AM to 17 PM (Monday to Friday) – 6 AM to 6:30 PM (Weekends)
Tickets: 2 USD. The fee allows you to walk around all the Basilic’s interior and get to the highest point of the towers.