Basilica of the National Vow
Looking straight from the terrace, your eyes won’t resist being drawn to the jagged, twin clock-towers that make up the Basilica of the National Vow. This impressive, colossal and Neo-Gothic church is, in fact, one of the largest of its kind in the region. Technically, it still hasn’t even been finished despite having opened its doors back in 1988, after nearly a century of construction. Local superstition and folklore warns that, if it were to be completed, the world would end. One of the structure’s most interesting features is its assortment of grotesques that are shaped like Ecuador’s most iconic animals. Instead of gargoyles or dark angels, dolphins, armadillos, iguanas and tortoises can be seen emerging from the flanks of the giant structure.
In spite of sitting some 70 km (43 mi) away from the city itself, Ecuador’s third highest peak can often be spotted from Casa Gangotena in the early hours of each morning. Simply look towards the Basilica of the National Vow, and there looms Cayambe Volcano – standing at 5,790 metres (18,996 feet) above sea level with a permanent snow cap. It is one of the highest points along Earth’s equator and was first climbed by British adventurer Edward Whymper back in 1880. It recurring volcano on the wish list of many climbers!