Welcome to La Mitad del Mundo
In 1736 Charles Marie de La Condamine made the measurements proving that the equatorial line ran through here (well, nearby actually). His expedition’s measurements gave rise to the metric system and proved that the world is not perfectly round, but that it bulges at the equator. Appealing perhaps to our childish belief that there is an actual line painted around the world and that an equatorial visit should be checked off a bucket list like skydiving or a boat trip to Antarctica, the area has developed into a kitschy, circus-like environment. There are food and handicraft stalls, bustling weekend crowds and an assortment of sights and attractions, few of which relate to the equator.
Located 7km south of Cayambe, El Reloj Solar Quitsato is another equator monument, its massive sundial with a 10m cylinder marking the spot.
Overshadowing the Mitad del Mundo monument is the new headquarters for the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), called 'Nestor Kirchner' in honor of the late Argentine president and fronted by a statue of him. A startling modernist building, with gravity-defying cubist structures resembling a misshapen spaceship, it was designed by Diego Guayasamín and opened for business in December, 2014.