Quito legends, Cantuña and San Francisco Convent in Quito, Quito was a lake? yes Quito has to big lakes at north of the city, "The bulfighter" well known as "La Torera" and other magnificent pieces of Quito oral history are publish here, read and enjy the catholic and indigenous creative for devils and gods in Quito legend.

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Quito Legends & Traditions


Legends are another way to communicate and live the true history of Quito. The oral culture of hundreds of years is reflected by its legends. The magic of Quito is hidden in its streets, walls and the colonial people whom inhabited Quito. To learn to appreciate Quito the way our ancestors did, is through the mystic and magical stories of some unforgettable characters. See for yourself the validity of these legends by visiting the sites.

When Quito was a lake
By Edwin Hidalgo Terán,

Cotocollao, to the north of the capital, bordered an enormous lagoon, which stretched from where the present Airport is to the Ejido Park. There was an old civilization, the Cotocollaos. They were agriculturists in a peaceful town around the year 1500 B.C.

They built straw ceilings houses, cultivated vegetables and hunted animals. They lived on an important access route to the Northwest, where they brought other important products. They were slightly religious. They elaborated clothes from cotton and pieces of ceramics. Their women measured between 1,38 and 1.67mts, and men between 1,49 and 1.76mts.

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Unfortunately, 2,500 years ago this town seemed to have the makings of a great civilization, but was buried by ash from Pululahua volcano and the Cotocollaos ceased to exist. Newer civilizations were not aware of this, so Quito was nicknamed the second Cuzco (capital of empire Inca).

It was in 1976 that the first remnants appeared of the Cotocollao civilization, conserved in exceptional form by the ash from the volcano. The discoveries proved that there was a great lake. During the following years more data was collected and it is calculated that before the eruption there were 3000 inhabitants in the Valley of Quito.

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The Virgin of the Volcano
By Hugo Burgos

The first Spaniards who lived in Quito, scared by the continuous eruptions of Pichincha volcano in 1575, built near the crater a stone virgin that represented the Virgin of the Mercedes, in order to protect the inhabitants of Quito of this destructive power. It was called the Virgin of the Volcano.

In 1960, due to a new eruption without any major consequences to the population, the inhabitants and neighbors reelect to the Virgin in gratitude for the granted safety from the volcano, in addition to storms, thunderstorms, tremors and other calamities. The experts speak of four eruptions since the arrival of the Spaniards. Eruptions in 1534, 1582, 1660 and 1868. If somebody wants to go to the summit of the Guagua Pichincha, you will find under the cross the image of this virgin, whom the settlers of Lloa make an annual peregrination.

This goes to show the adoration and respect to other mountains by similar cultures.

The legend of the Atrio (Vestibule) of San Francisco
By Federico González Suárez

The original city of San Francisco of Quito, was the Shyri capital that was replaced with plazas and temples, one of them of a particular beauty is surrounded by a special legend. The Vestibule of San Francisco sits three meters over the plaza with an unnatural detail and perfection, was supposedly made with a pact with the devil.

During the colonial times, an Indian called Cantuña, inspired by the avarice and the desire of wealth, committed himself to the construction of this huge vestibule. With his time for finishing reaching its end and worried of being humiliated by the society and put into prison for not finishing. With his undying Indian pride he was nor going to give up. Begging for help without any answer, he decided to turn to the devil.

Hoping some miracle would occur he waited and then in the middle of the dark, a mysterious form in a red cape appeared before its eyes. Overwhelmed and without words, Cantuña did not say a word, the creature initiated the dialogue. I know your grief and your pain and know that tomorrow you will be mocked, if you do not allow me to help you. Before the rooster sings in the dawn the vestibule will be ready, all you have to do is signs this contract, in return I want your soul.

Do you accept?

Without hesitating, Cantuña accepted, but first clarifying that if in the morning before the last ringing of the church bells, if there is a single stone missing the contract will be null. In a short time hundreds of infernal beings began to raise stones and to work hard. Cantuña extremely worried with what he had done, returned sadly to his house, asking for pardon for his soul.

At dawn, when the bells began to ring, Cantuña quickly went to San Francisco. The work was almost ready, the little devils had done an incredible job and the face of Lucifer laughed to its victory and Cantuña's soul cried knowing he has lost.

The last bell rang and Lucifer exclaimed victory, your soul is mine. Cantuña also shouted victory, because there was a stone missing. There was a block missing and Cantuña's soul of was safe. Furious, Lucifer returned to hell with his disciples and the beauty of the vestibule remains today, however, until now locals and tourists look for the missing stone, but nobody can find its missing location.

The Bullfighter
By Francisco Febres Cordero

Ana Bermeo, a well-known woman of Quito in the XIX century, called the "bullfighter", due to her imposing character. According to her, she dressed elegantly, in a no eccentric form: a hat full of flowers, a fox coat, an embroidered blouse, a long skirt, gloves, black socks, high heels and a large purse where she stored her most appraised treasures.

It was said that she was a very wealthy woman but had lost everything. She would walk daily down the streets of the Center with a stick keeping people in order and conserving justice. The boys would bother her, shouting bullfighter! Bullfighter and she would persecute them with the stick.

Her presence made her another character of the city. It is said that once she traveled abroad, but returned quickly. She never married. She was enrolled in a mental institute several times, but always returned to the windy streets and ready to control the streets of the city.

At the end, she ended up in an asylum, blind and without being able to walk. They say that she had to bandage her eyes because she could not support how people destroyed the city with great buildings and preferred anarchy, greed and wealth brought by a new black viscous liquid in the country. This was her revenge and she never went outside. Our grandparents miss the steps of the bullfighter through the Center. If you want to see her, you can visit the Model Cafeteria on Chile street where you can see the only thing she left behind, a photograph.

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