Starting at El Arco de la Circasiana in El Ejido park, we run towards La Basílica del Voto Nacional. Built in the 19th century, it is unique in Quito for its Neo-gothic style. From there we power up a small climb to Santa Bárbara, a small, captivating church originally built in the 16th century. Santa Bárbara marks the start of the “Street of the Seven Crosses”, which we will run through later in this tour. With speed and agility on our side, we wind through the narrow streets and arrive at La Merced. This church was finished in the 18th century and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary for protection against the Pichincha volcano which threatened to destroy Quito in the mid-17th century. Suddenly, the narrow street we run on opens up into the Plaza de San Francisco, in which the church by the same name rises majestically. Built in the 16th century, over the ruins of an Incan palace, this temple is probably the most iconic in the whole city. It plays an integral role in the life of Quito’s colonial district. We will definitely stop here to catch our breath and take pictures!
Back on the run, we step into the Street of the Seven Crosses and pass along La Inmaculada Concepción temple before bursting into the Plaza de la Independencia or Plaza Grande. This iconic setting holds the monument that commemorates the heroes of Ecuador’s Independence. It is flanked, amongst other buildings, by the Catedral Metropolitana (16th century) and Palacio de Carondelet, home to Ecuador’s president. Running along this iconic street we pass along El Sagrario, La Compañía and San Agustín, to name just a few of the beautiful, colonial churches built along this street that connects two very important hills used by the Incas for religious ceremonies before the Spanish took over.
We are now halfway through our run and our legs feel it! Our footsteps take us to the narrow streets of La Ronda and then a short climb to the church of Santo Domingo (16th century) with its ample plaza by the same name, then on to Santa Catalina (16th century) and finally to San Blas (17th century), which is the last church of our run and the northern exit point from the colonial Quito back to the modern city. A short climb to put those legs to the test one last time! Then we run across the Parque de La Alameda, which is Quito’s oldest park, back to our starting point at el Arco de la Circasiana in El Ejido park and finish our Quito Church Run.