El Panecillo (the Breadbun) is a viewpoint from which you can appreciate the beauty of this Andean city, Quito, and the splendor of its historical center. This is what makes it a must-see destination during your visit to the city. At El Panecillo you can find a small museum inside the monument; you can get fantastic photos of the city, buy handmade items and eat local snacks. Quito City Tour is the best way to reach this destination comfortably.
Cover photo By: Albert Dezetter
How to get to El Panecillo?
The best way to get to El Panecillo is to hire Quito City Tour, from Quito Tour Bus. This is a comfortable and safe route, traveling onboard the only double-decker tourist bus in the city, which will take you through the main attractions of Quito from the Av. Naciones Unidas, located in the financial center towards the north part of the city, passing through the largest historic center in South America to the El Panecillo viewpoint.
Quito City Tour departs from the Naciones Unidas Boulevard, and it has daily departures (every hour) and operates from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Its Hop On – Hop Off system allows you to get on and off at the programmed stops, so you can get to see the tourist destinations of your choice. Don’tt forget that in order to get back on the bus, you need to present your ticket.
At the hill of El Panecillo, Quito City Tour has an official and safe stop, specifically at the entrance of the PIM’s restaurant. It is at this stop where you can come back down and catch the bus again within an hour’s time. At El Panecillo you can see the magnificent statue of the Virgin of Legarda, and you will enjoy a beautiful view of the city of Quito from its viewpoint.
Bear in mind that during your tour on the double-decker bus you will be accompanied by a bilingual guide (Spanish – English) who will help you with any questions, also provide you with additional historical information, curious topics and tips to know during your visit. The Quito Tour Bus guides will tell you all the secrets about the story of the Virgin and will show you Quito from this beautiful viewpoint where it is possible to see how the city resembles a chessboard.
It is worth noting that though it is possible to walk to El Panecillo, it is an activity that is physically straining, as it has a natural elevation of 3,000 meters (9842 ft) above sea level. Also, it is recommended not to go to El Panecillo on foot as it is considered an unsafe option.
Visiting hours to el Panecillo
Inside the monument of the virgin in el Panecillo there os a small museum showing the different pictures and the history behind the construction of this monument. This museum is open to national and foreign tourists. At the very top there is a viewpoint in which you can see the city and the perspective is 360 degrees. You can enter to view this site from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and from Friday to Saturday until 9:00 p.m.
Prices to visit El Panecillo
The price to enter the inside of the monument is 1.00 USD for adults and of 0.50 USD for children.
What to do in el Panecillo?
We recommend that you visit El Panecillo during the morning hours since the risk of having rain is lower and the sky is usually quite clear; this way you will enjoy the views much more. In addition, in the morning the concentration of tourists is less, so you can enjoy this site much more. Next, we will tell you what to do in El Panecillo.
First, once you are in El Panecillo, you must enjoy the impressive Virgin of Legarda. The majesty of this construction will leave you in awe. The Virgin of El Panecillo is considered the tallest aluminum sculpture in the world. In fact, “it occupies the 58th place among the highest images in the world, it is even taller than the image of El Cristo Redentor (The Christ the Redeemer of Brazil” (Virgen de El Panecillo – 7 Maravillas de Quito, 2019).
Afterwards, you can visit the museum found inside the monument of the virgin of El Panecillo. Have in mind that you can enter this site from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and from Friday to Saturday until 9:00 p.m. There as you go up some steps and reach the viewpoint, you will find yourself at 3,027 m.a.s.l. (9931 ft above sea level), you can enjoy one of the most extraordinary views of the city of Quito.
From this site and its various viewpoints, you can take fantastic photos. You will not only get to see the center and the south of the city, but also the buildings located in the northern part as you will enjoy a 360 degree perspective of the city. You will be able to easily notice the contrasts between the ancient and modern city.
Lastly, you can go out and explore the handmade gods shops that are located around the monument. You will also find some food stalls where you can enjoy local snacks (empanadas, morocho, among others).
Curious facts about El Panecillo
Who designed and built the monument located at El Panecillo?
Agustín de la Herrán Matorras, the Spanish artist, made the monument to virgin Mary that is found on the cusp of the hill. The monument is made of more than seven thousand pieces and is considered the largest aluminum representation of Ecuador. This work was built in Valencia, Spain and, what many do not know, is that it was later transferred by boat to Ecuador.
The Spanish artist was inspired by the image of the winged Virgin found in the Church of San Francisco, the work of Bernardo de Legarda, sculptor of the colonial era. The monument of the Virgin of El Panecillo was inaugurated on March 28, 1975.
Origin of the name of the hill of El Panecillo
El Panecillo received this name from the Spanish conquerors, since it seemed to them that the hill, which rose in the heart of Quito, had the shape of a bread bun. It is said that its original name in Quichua is “Shungoloma” which means “Hill of the Heart”.
What happened in this place during the colonization?
During the Spanish conquest, the hill of El Panecillo was considered as a potential fort of defense and surveillance of the Spaniards. This place located at the top of the hill was the site of several battles between the fronts of the Quito revolution and the Spaniards.
The locals from Quito made a barricade on the hill of El Panecillo to avoid the imposition of the Royal Audience of Quito by the Spaniards. In this place, you can also find the well-known “el panecillo pot”, a brick dome located on the hillside that provided water to the fort that was built there.
After gaining Independence, this fort was destroyed and only the cusp of the hill known as the “pot” remained standing, this can be visited still today.
Tales of El Panecillo
Some legends exist surrounding El Panecillo, such as the tale of Yavirac, which goes that El Panecillo represents the Temple of the Sun called “Yavirac”. According to the legend, Atahualpa ordered to build a temple of gold on this elevation, which the Spanish were never able to find.
Also, there is another tale of the Olla del Panecillo (pot of el panecillo), which is about a woman who was taking her cow to graze on this hill. One day she left her cow to graze and then couldn’t find it. In her eagerness to find it, she went down to the bottom of the pot and to her surprise, when she reached the entrance, she found a huge palace, where she met a princess who helped her.
We invite you to find out more about these and other folk tales about El Panecillo!
When visiting Quito you must visit this destination accompanied by our Quito Tour Bus this, the natural elevation of El Panecillo and the emblematic representation of the Virgin Mary, made of aluminum, which you can find at the peak.