The historic city of Quito, Ecuador, is remarkable for its many beautiful churches, especially the 17th Jesuit church la Compañía, and the 16th century Monastery of St. Francis.
The Church of the Society of Jesus or La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, in particular, is the best-known church in Quito because of its large central nave, which is profusely decorated with gold leaf, gilded plaster and wood carvings. Approximately seven tons of gold are plastered all over the ceilings and the walls. Built over a period of 160 years, la Compañía is one of the most significant works of Spanish Baroque architecture in South America.
The Church and Monastery of St. Francis or Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco, is another magnificently decorated 16th-century Roman Catholic church in Quito. As with la Compañía, the church’s interior is covered with thousands of gold-plated leaves.
The imposing structure has the distinction of being the largest architectural ensemble among the historical structures of colonial Latin America. The church took 70 years to complete, although the style evolved over almost 150 years of construction and renovation.
This feature originally appeared in Amusing Planet.