It is the most imposing religious temple, one of the most important and beautiful in the country, the Basilica del Voto Nacional is an architectural work located in the historic center of the capital of Ecuador, the city of Quito. Its neo-Gothic style gives it an imposing appearance, in fact, did you know that due to its dimensions it is considered the largest neo-Gothic temple in America. It is located precisely in the sector of Santa Prisca between Carchi and Venezuela streets, next to the convent of the Oblate Fathers.
It was Father Julio Maria Matovelle, founder of the congregation of the Oblate Fathers, who requested the Archdiocese of Quito the authorization for the construction of this incredible work that was designed by the French architect Emilio Tarlier, the contract was made in France and was chosen for similar constructions made in Spain, France and England. He made the plans between 1890 and 1896, for its creation he was inspired by the Parisian cathedral of Notre Dame. On July 23, 1883, the president of that time, Luis Cordero Crespo, issued the first decree for the beginning of the works, however who ratified the decree was the president Dr. José María Plácido Caamaño, on March 5, 1884.
The Basilica del Voto Nacional for its beauty, structure and style is compared to two of the largest and most important cathedrals in the world, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, just by seeing it you will realize that it is one of the most representative churches not only of Ecuador but also of the American continent. An interesting fact is that the architectural complex was built for the consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by decree of President Gabriel Garcia Moreno.
The construction process began in the 19th century. On July 10, 1892, the first stone was laid on the land acquired in the sector currently known as Santa Prisca, an event presided over by President Luis Cordero Crespo, and blessed by Archbishop José Ignacio Ordóñez, thus beginning the work of cleaning and leveling the land under the direction of the Prussian architect Franz Schmidt. By December 1909, the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, was completed. This part of the temple was the oldest and the only one built exactly according to the plans, and by that time it was already receiving parishioners in masses held inside.
The sanctuary went through a long and complex construction process since it took more than 100 years to be officially inaugurated due to financing problems and lack of budget from the State, since the church was also built thanks to the contribution of the believers who contributed with materials, money and labor, in exchange for having their names engraved on the stones that can be seen in the interior and exterior of the construction. Finally, on July 12, 1988, the basilica was officially consecrated and inaugurated by the Archbishop of Quito, Antonio José González Zumárraga. However, the basilica has not yet been completed, which is why the local people believe that when it is finished the world will end.
This magnificent architectural work has a Latin cross plan, a central nave of 140 meters long by 35 meters wide, 30 meters high, as well as 74 meters high in the transept, in the extensive interior there are 14 bronze images representing the 11 apostles and 3 evangelists. As well as two lateral naves of 12 meters wide and 20 meters high that have 24 votive chapels that are 15 meters high and are dedicated to what at that time were the 21 provinces that made up the Republic of Ecuador currently missing Orellana, Santo Domingo and Santa Elena, in the remaining three are funerary monuments of Gabriel García Moreno, Monsignor José Ignacio Checa y Barba, and Father Julio María Matovelle.
The temple has two entrances and six access doors, inside it is venerated mainly the first Sacred Heart of Jesus that was painted when the Republic of Ecuador was consecrated to him and under it is the mythical National Pantheon of Ecuadorian Heads of State, same that was built in inspiration of the Royal Crypt of the Monastery of El Escorial, where the remains of the kings, queens and princes of Spain rest. That is why in the Basilica rest the bodies of some former presidents of the country including Antonio Flores Jijón, Mariano Suárez Veintimilla, Camilo Ponce Enríquez and Andrés F. Córdova.
From the outside
The main facade of the basilica is located to the south facing Carchi street, the two front towers have a height of 115 meters each, adorned by two dazzling clocks and crowned at the top by cross towers that make it one of the tallest buildings in the city and even the country, the dome is a tower erected from the cruise has a height of 70. 5 meters is adorned by acroteries of the emblematic bird of the country is mythical and majestic condor receiving from there its Creole name the tower of the condors.
As for its facade, it has quite interesting characteristics, its main distinctive feature are the curious gargales that are located on the upper sides of the central nave because they are endemic species and other unique species of Ecuadorian fauna among them you can see the iguanas, Galapagos tortoises, alligators, blue-footed boobies, armadillos, howler monkeys and others, being a totally unique touch and a significant contribution to the Ecuadorian architecture especially in the neo-Gothic style.
The sculptural plan of the catholic sanctuary includes more than 230 bronze effigies that should occupy all the niches located on the outside, in the images are represented important characters related to religion, national history such as indigenous people, artists, poets, scientists, military and politicians. More than 90% has not yet been completed, as it is estimated that the cost of it would exceed $ 5 million.
Undoubtedly the Basilica del Voto Nacional is a place you must visit if you are in the city of Quito, it is open to the public and offers a spectacular tour where you can admire the beauty of its interior and the magnificent panoramic view from the clock tower at 115 meters high where you can see the city in its maximum splendor with the bread roll in the background, You can also climb the dome or popularly known as the condor tower, also, from the upper floors you will find a unique viewpoint to take a look at the historic center of the city as well as a craft store.