A nine-hour bus ride north of Cuenca through the Andes brought me to Ecuador’s capital, Quito. At an altitude of 2,850 m above sea level it is the highest capital in the world.
Located in a narrow valley it is now a large longitudinal city spreading north and south from the historic centre. Before the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century it had been a settlement for a succession of indigenous groups, most recently the Incas.
I stayed in a hostel run by two jolly German men and on my last night shared a dormitory with a man from Liechtenstein who told me that most border crossing agents outside Europe have never heard of it and have difficulty believing the passport isn’t a fake from an invented country. Which puts my difficulty in persuading people that ‘British’ is a nationality (most people have only heard of England) into perspective.
Quito has some wonderful church interiors, in a local version of the Baroque style that is, according to UNESCO “a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art”. The most wonderful church is the Jesuit College of La Compañía, full of gold ornamentation and ornate altars. Photography was forbidden but seeing so many other people flouting it I did sneak one picture myself.
The exterior too was rather wonderful, but the street outside too narrow to allow me to take a decent photograph, so I decided against building this as my Lego model.
Instead, I chose another church with a similarly decorated interior and full of paintings but with a much plainer exterior.
Shortage of parts meant I had to compromise on the proportions somewhat.