Perched on a small hill on Calle Venezuela, eight blocks north of the Plaza de la Independencia, the Basílica del Voto Nacional is the tallest church in Ecuador, thanks to its two imposing, 115-metre towers plainly visible throughout the city. Built in a flamboyant, neo-Gothic style, it’s a wild concoction of spires, flying buttresses, turrets, parapets, arches, gables and elaborate stained-glass windows. Despite construction beginning in 1892, the church – which is built largely in concrete – is still not entirely completed. The gargoyles, based on Ecuadorian fauna such as monkeys and jaguars, are a contemporary departure from the traditional representations of mythical creatures.
Don’t miss the fantastic views from two vantage points accessed by lift and steep metal ladders: an unnerving buckling roof on the northern steeple, and a higher spot way up on the east tower, past the third-floor café, then on stairs and ladders past the clock machinery and belfry to an artificial floor made only of wide steel grille. From here, those with a head for heights can squeeze out onto tiny ledges on the spire’s exterior for a genuine thrill.