Quito for Philosophers

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Coming into contact with the spirits of wisdom in places that brood the energy of history and thought can be transformative… We take you to very special hidden corners of Quito where perhaps a connection to moments, eras, people and even trees have the power of catharsis (or at least an epiphany or two).

1 Library of the Mercedarians / Chapel of San José in El Tejar

Climb Calle Mejía to the top… past the bridges along the Avenida Occidental highway, where a street known as El Retiro begins. You can visit the Recoleta de los Mercedarios, its beautiful courtyards and an interesting library with Colonial-era books. A few meters further on, find another Colonial structure, the San José Chapel, famous for its Baroque altars.

Descend to the crypt where the remains of Eugenio Espejo lie, one of Quito’s great thinkers and historic figures, to ponder over his intense and rebellious energy… a place to contemplate life and death, for sure.

2 The rooftop at Centro Cultural Metropolitano

This building has a deep and turbulent history. Countless historical events took place here, from fires that burned prehistoric mastodons to ashes to the imprisonment and killing of some of Quito’s brightest minds. Its rooftop affords views of several Colonial icons from a unique perspective. The building was, in addition to one of the city’s first educational institutions, the headquarters of its first newspaper, run by Eugenio Espejo himself. The southern rooftop is where La Condamine drew the first reference meridian line, before beginning the Geodesic Mission to discover the true shape of the Earth… There is inspiration to spare here and if you stand very still, you may be able to listen to the walls and their ghosts.

3 The rooftop at Centro Cultural Metropolitano

This building has a deep and turbulent history. Countless historical events took place here, from fires that burned prehistoric mastodons to ashes to the imprisonment and killing of some of Quito’s brightest minds. Its rooftop affords views of several Colonial icons from a unique perspective. The building was, in addition to one of the city’s first educational institutions, the headquarters of its first newspaper, run by Eugenio Espejo himself. The southern rooftop is where La Condamine drew the first reference meridian line, before beginning the Geodesic Mission to discover the true shape of the Earth… There is inspiration to spare here and if you stand very still, you may be able to listen to the walls and their ghosts.

After witnessing the spiritual power of pre-Columbian art, a moment in front of this tree, they say, is source of regenerative power. It still bears fruit.

4 San Diego Cemetery

Walking the silent corridors of this great cemetery, to the south of the Old Town, right to the top rewards us with a prodigal view of the city and a place to seek peace with the Quito residents who have transcended this world, many of them important figures from its past. Among the many styles of each mausoleum – many dating back over a hundred years – it’s curious to find some that have been quickly refurbished with lime, sporting a “for rent” or “for sale” sign. Even death is subject to the laws of supply and demand.

5 Casa Benjamín Carrión

Benjamín Carrión was considered one of the great Quito intellectuals, an essayist and writer who promoted the arts and letters with fervor. His house is a treasured corner of the new city, a place to resume the line of thought of a burgeoning modernity in the mid-1900s. The halls, and beautiful ceilings, give this cultural center a sense of grandeur. Find events, workshops, talks and time for reverie at its lovely library.

6 La Circasiana and its Archive

Mr. Jijón and Ms. Caamaño, original owners of this striking palace built by the German architect Francisco Schmidt, (highly sought after at the time) had a prodigal son, Jacinto, who would become one of the most important cultural figures of his generation – a great art enthusiast, philanthropist, politician, and above all, a renowned archaeologist. He lived in the residence until his death. A truly spectacular building, with gigantic ceilings… it is also home to the Quito Historical Archive which holds works of invaluable importance for the city, such as the founding papers themselves.

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