The Iglesia de San Agustín (Church of Saint Augustine) stands in the historical centre of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador.
It is close to the town hall and the old Palacio del Gobierno (Palace of the governor), and only one block from the Plaza de Independencia (Independence Square).
It was constructed during the 16th and 17th centuries, and reconstructed in the 19th century.
Currently, it is going through a restructuring process after having suffered great damage during the earthquake of 1987.
Quito is located high in the Andes mountains, at an elevation of 9,200 feet (3,000 metres).
It lies in a valley on the western slopes of Pichincha, an active volcano. It is the oldest capital city in the South America.
Tradition says that Quito was founded on 6th December 1534 by two Spanish conquistadors, Sebastian de Benalcazar and Diego de Almagro.
It is thought that the Incas had a city on the site called Quitu that had been built in about the year 1480. They burned the city shortly before the Spaniards arrived to prevent them from capturing it intact, as they had captured Cuzco (in Peru) earlier.
The Spaniards then apparently destroyed what had remained as they fruitlessly searched for gold and other precious objects and used the stones to construct the city.
Plans for building the church and convento began in 1573 by the Order of San Agustín (Saint Augustine). The Spanish architect Francisco Becerra, who was in Quito subsequent to 1573, drew plans for both the church and convento of San Agustín.
Francisco Becerra was one of the two excellent Spanish architects who went to the New World to design important architectural works during the Spanish colonial era.
In 1573, Francisco began to work at the church of Santo Domingo in Mexico, and two years later at the cathedral (duomo) of Puebla, where he was the master (principal) architect. Francisco moved to Peru in 1582 to build the cathedrals of Lima and Cuzco.
For the construction of the church and convento of San Agustín in Quito, a contract was signed in 1606 with the Spanish architect Juan del Corral.
He was married to a woman from Quito, and was engaged as supervising architect during the construction to ensure that the plan and drawings of Francisco Becerra were faithfully followed.
Here again is another example of the Order of Saint Augustine using the best architect and the best local artists available in the New World during the Spanish colonial era.
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