Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Architecture & Churches

The most commonly found architecture in Ecuador is probably that which was built during the time that Ecuador was a Spanish colony. This Spanish colonial architecture can be found in every city and town that was ever visited by the Spanish – from the humblest monastery to the newest and most modern of cities. The Spanish look and feel is undeniable and yet, the way that the elements have aged and worn these edifices gives it a somewhat unique Ecuadorian feel.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 92% of Ecuadorians are Roman Catholic.  Along with the old impressive churches there are new ones and many more are being built.  

Wikipedia tells us the New cathedral in Cuenca as shown above (official name: Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción) had its towers truncated due to a calculation error of the architect. If they had been raised to their planned height, the foundation of this church to the Immaculate Conception, would not have been able to bear the weight. In spite of the architect's immense mistake, the New Cathedral of Cuenca is a monumental work of faith that began to be built in 1880. It is in Neo-Gothic style, and its blue and white domes have become a symbol for the city. Its facade is made of alabaster and local marble, while the floor is covered with pink marble, brought from Carrara (Italy). When the Cathedral was first constructed 9,000 out of Cuenca's 10,000 inhabitants could be accommodated inside. 

As in most Ecuadorian and Latin American churches, many styles are used in the construction of the churches and Cathedrals: late Gothic in the arches, Moorish in the ceilings and Baroque in the main altar. The catacombs of many of the cathedrals serve as a resting place to important figures in Ecuador's history

Owing to its geographical isolation, Cuenca had a coherent urban profile until 1950. However, this was followed by the threats of urban expansion and transformations resulting from pressure exerted by real-estate promotion and new social requirements. An Urban Development Plan for the Metropolitan Area of Cuenca was adopted in 1982 to safeguard the image of the town and to restore several buildings.

Ecuadorian Architecture was always strongly influenced by the Spanish Culture. The attractive Spanish look and feel definitely enhances the beauty of Ecuador's Architecture.

Traditionally, cemeteries were characterized by huge stone monuments and mausoleums, particularly for the wealthy.  Today, however, the trend is to bury the dead in jardines or memorial gardens where landscaping has largely replaced the ostentatious tombstones of the past. 

Cemeteries displaying the old architectual tombstones can still be found quite often throughout Ecuador.

While Ecuador is home to some of the most spectacular architectural achievements in history, many of the area’s indigenous ruins no longer are standing because the Spanish either destroyed or built over the ancient buildings. The new has remained intimately connected to the old; a number of important towns are built on the rubble of the Inca civilization, and in many cases the Spaniards even reused Inca building stones. The region’s urban centers were built more for walking than looking, as evidenced by the blocky concrete buildings that dominate the downtown areas of most larger cities. Most of these buildings were erected in the 20th century, when architects were primarily concerned with reducing building costs (and consequently losing the charm of the traditional Spanish look).   

 To see more architecture & churches of Ecuador, please click on the links.