Posted by: Waheeda Harris | June 13, 2013

Madonna of Quito’s El Panecillo

One day I will see the statue above Rio de Janeiro – those outstretched arms of Jesus Christ, to welcome me to the city.

Ecuador - Quito's El Panecillo MadonnaWhen I stopped midway on my tour of Quito at El Panecillo, I felt like I had officially arrived when I saw the aluminum state of the Madonna at its top.

El Panecillo, which means “small piece of bread”, is a 200 metre high hill overlooking the valley which Quito now resides.

Its a volcanic outcropping, and according to local legend, this area was used as a place of worship for the local indigenous population.

In 1976, a Spanish artist was commissioned to create a Madonna for this hill. Agustin de la Herran Matorras created a statue out of 7000 pieces of aluminum, all assembled atop El Panecillo to create a 45 metre tall Madonna.

Now visitors like me make the trek up to El Panecillo, to see her in person and perhaps briefly invoke their deity in her presence. Or some like me, wander around, take in the views, buy a snack, take a lot of photos and then get back on the bus.

I looked up at her, a modernist creation that seemed so unusual compared to the French and Spanish colonial influences on the previous churches and statues I had seen in other parts of the city.

But the statue called to my sense of curiosity as someone who loves public art – and I’m glad I came to see her, up close and personal. She’s a unique object that I’m glad I could see here, keeping an eye on the capitol city of Quito, Ecuador.


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