El Panecillo is a steep hill in Quito’s southern Old Town, so named for its resemblance to a loaf of bread. A towering aluminum statue of the Virgen de Quito (Madonna of Quito) pinnacles the hill and can be seen from many points around the city. Climb the hill to see the monument and enjoy stunning views of the historic Old Town, modern Quito and distant volcanoes.
Visit El Panecillo on a clear morning to enjoy the city’s most popular lookout, which sits 9,895 feet (3,016 meters) above sea level. Take a cab or a bus up to the top, as the narrow sets of concrete stairs that wind up the hill can be a target for muggers. Explore the grassy, flat hilltop and enjoy commanding views of the city.
Admire the statue of Virgen de Quito, constructed from 7,000 pieces of aluminum. Sculpted by Agustín de la Herrán Matorras in 1976, it was inspired by Bernardo de Legarda’s famous sculpture of the same name, which depicts the Madonna with angel’s wings. Enter the statue’s base to visit the on-site museum and viewing platforms. Learn about the area’s historical and religious significance to the Spanish and the indigenous people of the area. Climb the stairs to reach three levels of viewing platforms, each with a more stunning view of the Quito cityscape and mountain ranges than the last.
Pick up a small souvenir statue of the Virgen de Quito from the craft vendors as a memento of your visit. Sometimes you can hear religious processions sing and pray as they walk down the steps.
Keep your valuables close, as this is a popular spot for pickpocketing. Police routinely patrol the statue and museum. El Panecillo is located between southern and central Quito in the Old Town. The statue and museum are open daily during business hours. There is a fee to enter the grounds and viewing platforms.