The Basilica of the National Vow (in Spanish, La Basilica del Voto Nacional), often called La Basilica, is one of the most beautiful Roman Catholic churches in Quito. Set up on a hill and visible from almost anywhere in the city, it’s particularly striking after dark, when it is illuminated.
Construction began in 1883 on what became the largest neo-Gothic church in the Americas, measuring 459 feet (140 meters) long and 115 feet (35 meters) wide, and reaching a height of 98 feet (30 meters) in the nave. The two front towers stand 377 feet (115 meters) tall.
The neo-Gothic decoration has an interesting twist — it features gargoyles and ornaments that depict local animals such as armadillos, iguanas, pumas, monkeys, tortoises and condors. The abundant artwork also includes bronze statues, stained-glass windows and impressive stonework.
Get the best views by climbing to the top of the three towers, where you can see a large portion of Quito and the surrounding mountains. Walking from one tower to the next on wooden bridges and steep ladders adds to the thrill.
The church is technically unfinished, and local legend has it that when La Basilica is completed, the end of the world will come.
The church is located seven blocks north of Independence Square at the corner of Calle Venezuela in Old Town, Quito. It is open daily from 9am to 5pm. It costs $2 to visit the top of the towers.