Culture : Heritage

The people who inhabited the territory of Ecuador before the Spanish arrived had an advanced manufacturing technique of gold and silver jewelry. In the province of Esmeraldas archeologists have found chiseled pectorals of gold with figures of strange animals. Ceramics also reached great perfection with its clay figurines. The ceramic of the Province of Carchi is characterized by the production of huge vases decorated with geometrical patterns and stylized animals.

In tombs located in the provinces of Imbabura, Tungurahua., Chimborazo, Azuay and Cañar, beautiful objects of gold and gilded copper have been found in the regions of Chordeleg, Azogues and Sigsig. Inca architecture still remains in the ruins of the Casa de los Incas, Ingapirca Castle and the Inga-Chungam sacrificial altar.

In the Hispanic period, the "Audience de Quito" was one of the most noted colonial districts, especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for the protection of art manifestations. At that period, European schools flourished such as the San Pedro, San Luis Seminary and the University of San Gregorio. In the eighteenth century, the literary culture was virtually monopolized by the Jesuits, who were noted for their historical scientific and poetic works.

Literature was the the art highlight in Ecuador when it became an independent country. In the early nineteenth century neoclassical poetry flourished with names such as Jose Joaquin Olmedo and Numa Pompilio Llona, Luis Cordero and Julio Zaldumbide. Modernism was represented by Remigio Crespo Toral. Two prose writers, Juan León Mera, who initiated the indigenous novel (Cumandá), and Juan Montalvo are the most prominent figures of the nineteenth century.

In later years the "realistic" novel dominated with Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno and Eduardo Mera. An important novel of the first half of the twentieth is "The Coast" by Luis A. Martinez, with a civil war background. Important, too, are poets Jorge Carrera Andrade and Gonzalo Escudero, the Group of Guayaquil (José de la Cuadra, Demetrio Aguilera Malta, Joaquin Gallegos Lara, Alfredo Enrique Gil Gilbert and Diezcanseco couple), Alejandr o Carrión, Paul Palacio and novelist Jorge Icaza. Social changes were expressed by Juan Andrade Heymann (El lagarto en la mano, 1975 and Las tertulias de San Li Tun); Iván Egüez (La Linares, 1976; El Triple salto, 1981; Anima Pávora, 1989; Pájara la memoria, 1985), Jorge Velasco Mackenzie (El rincón de los justos, 1983; De vuelta al paraíso, 1975; Como Gato en tempestades, 1977; Raymundo y la creación del mundo, 1979; Músicos y amaneceres, 1986) y Francisco Proaño Arandi (Del otro lado de las cosas, 1993; Oposición a la magia, 1986; La doblez, 1986). Narrative is represented by Alicia Yánez Cossío (Bruna, soroche y los tíos, 1970; La casa del sano placer, 1989), Fernando Tinajero (El desencuentro, 1976), Eliécer Cárdenas (Polvo y ceniza, 1979).

Quito's colonial architecture is characterized by the fusion of indigenous elements and Spanish Baroque style. However, the colonial architecture has predominantly European roots, due to the formation of indigenous artists by some missionaries like the Monk Jodoco Ricke. The "main architect" Antonio Rodriguez, apparently a native of Quito stands out.

A landmark building for its historical importance and its beauty is the church of San Francisco de Quito, the first building of great size built in America.

Other important churches are the Cathedral of Quito, the church of the Order of Mercy, Church of St. Augustine, among others.

The Spanish Baroque style acquires its greatest fulfillment in the church of the Jesuits "Compañía de Jesús".

Sculpture and painting were also successfully developed during colonial times, winning universal category for the quality of its images, influenced by the work of their Spanish. The renowned "Escuela de Quito" also has Oriental influences introduced by the artists brought by the franciscan priests from Asia. The Ecuadorian painters from the time of the Independence war studied in Europe and followed the prevailing currents.

José Antonio Salas was the forerunner of the use of drawings as the documentation of folklore of Ecuador. The XX century artists with social issues as motives are best represented with Eduardo Kingman, Gilberto Almeida and Oswaldo Guayasamin.

Indigenous musical forms have survived, such as the "yaraví", evoking the vast solitude of the Andes and the sadness of the Indian; the "cachullapi" or "pasacalles", folk tunes very cheerful and danceable; the "amorfino" musical sentimental genre of the Coastal region; the "albazo", musical pieces usually played by bands that roam the streets at dawn (hence "albazo" from alba -dawn in English) during the holidays; the "sanjuanito", a show of music and dance show very colorful and festive; the "andarele", music and dance with African roots. Among modern Quito Ecuadorian composers Segundo Luis Moreno and Luis H. Salgado, stand out, both inspired by the rich national folklore.

Quito was declared Cultural Heritage of Mankind. The city keeps within it's the urban plan, the downtown or "casco colonial" as it is known characterized by the it's churches and monastic cloisters, whose interiors keep almost intact their XVI - XVIII design for admiration of tourists. The center of the city allows the tourist to discover the Cathedral (1562-1565), churches and convents (San Francisco, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, St. Augustine, the Society of Jesus, La Merced), monasteries (La Conception, St. Catherine of Siena , Santa Clara, El Carmen de San José), and, cloisters (The Collection of San Diego, La Recoleta, the Rock of France, the Tejar Mercedaria).

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