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Quito: City of Legends
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Quiteños are of a creative and imaginative nature. Almost every corner of the old colonial downtown Quito has a story, which over time has become a legend. You can look for the bits of existing evidence that inspired these legends..

Some of the most traditional legends are:

The Indigenous Foundation of Quito
Legend tells that many, many years ago, on a clear night, the inhabitants of the town of Cochasquí saw a falling star. They were frightened and raced to the palace to tell their King about this happening. The King, who was also a priest and a witchdoctor, requested that they calm down and be patient. He was to arrange things with the gods. He took, a glass of chicha (a beverage made from different maize species) in his hands and recited a magic spell. He drank until he fell into a deep sleep.

When he woke, the King gathered the people from the community to share his vision. "The gods are not angry at us," he said, "But they want us to leave this place and go to a richer, fertile, more beautiful land. We are to follow the signal of this falling star. Wherever it falls, we must found our new city."

They followed the trace of the star until they reached the foot of the Pichincha volcano. That was the place where they founded their new city. They built their huts, planted their crops and built temples for the Sun and Moon. That was the beginning of what is now the city of Quito.

The Cathedral Rooster

A wealthy man's daily routine was to have a hearty breakfast, take a nap, get all dressed up and then stroll through Independence Square. As he passed by the Cathedral, he looked up and dared the metallic rooster on the dome: "No rooster is worth anything. Not even the Cathedral rooster!". Then he would walk to Señora Mariana's store to drink some mistelas (different flavored alcoholic beverages). On his way back he dared the rooster again, more effusively thanks to the many drinks he had had.

Quito CityOne night, as he made his way back home from Señora Mariana's store, he felt a claw sting his leg. He felt trapped, and heard the rooster say:

  • "Promise you'll never drink misdeals again!"
  • "Promise you'll never insult me again!"
  • "Get up and make your promise!!!"

The man replied:

  • "I promise! I won't even drink water!!"
  • "I promise, I won't ever mention you again!"
  • "Forgive me! Forgive me!"

Mission accomplished, the rooster flew back to the top of the dome.

Cantuña

During the colonial period, an Indian builder called Cantuña had a contract by which he had agreed to finish the construction of the San Francisco Atrium by a certain date. He was just about to go to jail for not meeting his deadline. He prayed and prayed asking for the impossible task of finishing on time.

As he reached the square, a man dressed in red appeared from within a pile of stones. He was tall, had a pointy chin and a large hooknose.

  • "I'm Luzbel," he said. "Don't be afraid, good man. I can help you meet your deadline. I offer to finish the entire task by daybreak. All I ask as payment is your soul. Do you accept my proposition?"
  • "I accept," answered a desperate Cantuña. "But no single stone must be missing by daybreak. Otherwise, the deal is off."
  • "I agree," replied Satan.

Once the deal was signed, thousands of restless little devils set to work frantically. At about 4 am, the atrium was almost ready. It was soon daybreak and Cantuña's soul was to be taken by Satan.

However, when Cantuña was to receive the finished work, he was amazed to see that in their hurry to complete the atrium, the devils had missed one, only one stone.

Cantuña's soul was saved, and he was able fulfill his job on time!

On the right side of the square you can verify the missing stone of this legend.