madonna above the clouds
El Panecillo is a hill located in the middle west of the city at an altitude of about 9,895 ft above sea level. A monument to the Virgin Mary is located on top of El Panecillo and is visible from most of the city of Quito. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a 134.5 ft–tall aluminum monument of a madonna, which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo. Made of approximately 7,000 pieces of aluminum, the monument was inaugurated on March 28, 1976, by the 11th archbishop of Quito.
The figure stands on top of a globe, standing on top of a chained snake, symbolizing her triumph over evil (classic madonna iconography). What is not so traditional, however, is her wings. The monument was inspired by the famous "Virgen de Quito" (Quito's Madonna), also known as "the dancer" sculpted by Bernardo de Legarda in 1734, which now decorates the main altar at the Church of St. Francisco. This madonna represents a turning point of the Quito School of Art (one of the most renowned of the Americas) because it shows a figure with great movement (practically dancing), which is in contrast to the traditional static madonnas produced during the 18th century.