Wander through this elegant church to find stunning architecture, fascinating paintings, a library and the city’s holy statue of the Lady of Mercy.
Visit La Merced (the Church of Mercy) in Quito Old Town to see a stately 18th-century church, its cloisters and a museum full of regional relics. It is an important religious site for the local Quiteños, as it is said that this church and its stone statue of Our Lady of Mercy protect the city from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Reach the church via La Merced Square, a plaza that offers the best view of the church. The church’s gleaming white walls and ornate tower set it apart in the cityscape. Admire the grand structure of the church with its four-sided tower adorned with Moorish-style detailing and spired domes. The church was built on the site of the former Basílica La Merced, which was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1660. As you enter the church, note the pillars in the archway. The carvings in the entrance depict faces, the sun, the moon and other symbols that are of deep importance to the region’s indigenous people.
Take in the church’s peaceful ambience as you walk through to the ornate nave and altar. See the Virgin of Mercy in the high altar, which was carved from stone in 1751. Wander through to its cloisters to see a series of paintings by prominent artists including Samaniego, Pinto and Mideros.
Walk out into the wide, open patio with its charming white archways and a carved stone fountain depicting Neptune. From here, continue on to the library. Its two floors hold a fascinating collection of ancient books and parchments, some bound with gold. Visit the church museum to find a collection of paintings and relics, including rare jewels, from Quito’s past.
La Merced Church is located in Quito Old Town, close to Independence Square. The church is easily accessible by the city’s trolleybus service or on foot. Street parking is also available. The church is open daily, but closes earlier on weekends. Entry is free.