The Church of San Francisco is the most extraordinary building work of Quito. It’s located in the historic downtown, at 477 Cuenca and Sucre Streets. In front is a square with the same name, which makes it an architectural masterpiece.
San Francisco, as building work, has a rich history that includes the popular thinking. There is an interesting legend with the Indian Aunqui Hualca, son of Hualca, Rumiñahui follower. Rumiñahui was general of the armies of the Inca Atahualpa. The Indian, in a time of misfortune, was welcomed by the Spanish Hernan Juarez to whom he served with loyally. Since that time the Indian was renamed Francisco Cantuña.
Cantuña was responsible for the building of the temple court in San Francisco, but the time was short and it seems so hard finishing on time. So, he made a deal with the Devil. Cantuña would give his soul in exchange for the construction of the atrium. The work lasted one night and Cantuña pray to the Virgin for fear of being taken to hell. When the devil came into the court, a rock was lacked and therefore the agreement was canceled and Cantuña escaped. To date, the atrium of San Francisco doesn’t have a stone.
The Church of San Francisco, according to theories, was built above the palace of Huayna Capac, the eleventh and penultimate monarch of the Inca Empire. According to old chronicles, traditions and oral testimonies of the same Spanish conquerors, in what now is the historical downtown of Quito stood Inca temples. In the area of the Panecillo or Yavirac was the famous Sun temple, Templo Del Sol, adorned with gold and silver that Huayna Capac brought from Cuzco.
On the slopes of Pichincha was the Palace Capachuasi Inca, construction graced by fresh flowers, avenues and toctes (tree). Even today it keeps on the name: Toctiuco. Close to the Palace, and above where today is San Francisco church and convent, were located the military buildings and houses of the principal curacas and orejones, chiefs of the Empire. Also, what now is the Plaza de San Francisco was for millennia, before the Inca conquest, a great Tianguez, it means a market, the same that was the main one of the entire northern region of the Andes.
Huayna Capac was Tupac Yupanqui Successor, and couple of Paccha, daughter of the late Shiry. He merged his great empire with the kingdom of Chinchasuyo( Ecuador) , northern part of his dominions. Here he rebuilt the temple of the sun, established his palace and ruled the Inca Empire of Tahuantinsuyu.
"When Huayna Capac death, his body was carried to Cuzco, whereas that his heart stayed in Quito, along with what he most loved in his life: his beloved Paccha, his beloved son Atahualpa and the city of solace that put him from the former headquarters of the Incas."
Excavations at the Church of San Francisco have revealed pre-Inca and colonial treasures. Its construction began after the foundation of Quito, in 1536. It was built by architects and craftsmen like Fray Francisco Benitez, who led the work in the late sixteenth century and completed it in 1605.
The structure occupies nearly two blocks making it the largest in Quito and since 1983 has been part of a comprehensive recovery of the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, Spanish International Cooperation Agency. This is home of more than four thousand pieces of art, including furniture, paintings and sculptures.
From the church choir begins one of the most emblematic cultural tours of the historic downtown of Quito. The ceiling is a series of small canvases painted with faces of angels and flowers, the Renaissance style. Its main altarpiece, in circular form, encloses the altar with wonderful statues.
In 1996, part of the complex is part of the Franciscan Museum, where 250 stunning artworks are exhibited as the “Inmaculada Eucaristía”, Immaculate Eucharist, by Miguel de Santiago; and other amazing works of Manuel Chili 'Caspicara".
For more information about the Church and the Convent of San Francisco:
Telephone: (+593 2) 295 9911
Just one block west of Compañia de Jesús you will find the Plaza de San Francisco and its church, in Cuenca Street between Sucre and Bolivar Street, in Quito Historic downtown.
The San Francisco museum's hours are Monday to Saturday from 09h00 to 17h30 and Sunday 09h00 to 13h00.
The admission fee is $ 2.00 for adults, $ 1.00 for children and students, and over 65 years pay $ 0.50 USD.