Quito is a city that will surprise you because of the large number of churches that are concentrated in its historic center.
Along with the aforementioned, we should also mention the Cathedral , the church of the Sagrario or, with a great contrast to the rest, the Basilica .
Plaza San Francisco in Quito
But if there is a corner that will surely focus your attention during your visit to the historic center of Quito, that is the Plaza San Francisco , where the church of the same name is located.
And it is also a place where various public events are usually held.
In the same square also stands out the beautiful white facade building that houses the luxurious boutique hotel known as Casa Gangotena , recently renovated.
If you go up to the terrace of this Spanish-owned hotel, you will have an excellent panoramic view of the square and the city.
San Francisco church history
San Francisco is one of the oldest churches in the city because it began to be built in 1535, just one year after the arrival of Sebastián Benalcázar along with the Franciscans to conquer the old Inca enclave that was Quito.
I will tell you that the presence of the Incas in Ecuador was not very long, only 80 years, and only 20 years in the north of the current Ecuadorian country.
But it is considered that the Church of San Francisco was built on the remains of an ancient Inca temple.
Moreover, its special orientation propitiates that during the winter solstice the main altar is illuminated by the sun.
The construction of the church of San Francisco was especially rapid, since this monastic complex, the work of the Franciscan Fray Jodoco Ricke, was completed in just 70 years.
Of the importance of the church of San Francisco in Quito you will have a sample to know that it is the most beloved church today by the people of Quito.
The Franciscans, the order that continues to run it, organize one of the most important processions in South America during Holy Week .
When you visit its interior, you will see that it shows an eclectic style decoration, where you can see from Romanesque columns to Baroque and Rococo decoration.
Of course, you will notice the sumptuous decoration where the gold leaf is also used, a method to attract the attention of the parishioners that in this way were being captured for Catholicism.
Do not miss the choir either, with the figures of the Franciscan friars on the wooden benches and, above all, the excellent panoramic view of the interior of the church.
The complex of the square, church and convent of San Francisco occupies up to three hectares, and is the largest religious site of the Ecuadorian capital.
San Francisco church museum
During your visit you can walk through the great cloister where you will see numerous palm trees, and also visit the Fray Pedro Gocial museum where the original sculpture of the Alada Virgin of Quito , work of Bernardo de Legarda , which served as the basis for the construction of the great sculpture of the Panecillo .
In this museum you have a sample of colonial art with works by artists from the Quito school from the 16th and 18th centuries.
And in this respect I indicate to you that it was precisely the Franciscans who founded the first art school in Quito.
In addition, the entrance of the museum gives you access to the aforementioned choir of the church.
The visiting hours of the museum are, from Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., and on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. The price of the ticket is 2 dollars.