Quito’s Basílica del Voto Nacional

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Quito’s Basílica del Voto Nacional

If there’s one thing that South American cities have an abundance of, it’s religious landmarks and Quito is no exception, boasting several churches and cathedrals. The Basílica del Voto Nacional is the largest neo-gothic basilica in the Americas, with stained glass and altars to more than a dozen holy figures and saints. Entry into the cathedral is $1, and you can buy candles for prayers to the saints from vendors outside.

Once inside, the first striking thing is how dark and quiet the cathedral is. The stones muffle the sounds of traffic outside and most light passes though immense stained-glass windows, dimming it to near nothingness.

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Stained glass from the inside.

Some windows are patterned, while others depict Bible scenes or saints. Some have been damaged and replaced with whatever was handy at the time—one saint now has a torso of abstract art:

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Scenes from the Bible in stained glass
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Repaired stained glass windows showing more abstract designs.

Then there are the saints’ altars lining the walls of the cathedral:

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The altar for the crucifiction of Jesus.
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The altar for the child Mary.
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Saint Miguel, patron saint of education.

The crypt lies at one end of the Basilica, with large marble tombs adorned by bronze statues, dedicative plaques, and fresh flowers:

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A statue in the crypt to Father Julio Maria Matovelle.
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A cross on a wall with bricks bearing people’s names. For many years construction of the church was funded by laying bricks with donors’ names.
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