Capped by green-and-gold domes, La Compañía de Jesús is Quito’s most ornate church and a standout among the baroque splendors of the Old Town. Free guided tours in English or Spanish highlight the church’s unique features, including its Moorish elements, perfect symmetry (right down to the trompe l’oeil staircase at the rear), symbolic elements (bright-red walls are a reminder of Christ’s blood) and its syncretism (Ecuadorian plants and indigenous faces are hidden along the pillars).
Construction on this marvelously gilded Jesuit church began in 1605 but wasn't completed for another 160 years; the main altarpiece alone took 20 years (former president Gabriel García Moreno is buried here). The made-in-the-USA organ is circa 1889. Check out the chiaroscuro-style series of paintings called the 16 Prophets by Nicolás Javier de Goríbar and the large canvas Hell and Final Judgement from 1879 – it's still a mystery what happened to the original, painted by Hermano Hernando de la Cruz in 1620. Quiteños proudly call it the most beautiful church in the country, and it’s easy to see why.