Hill of the Heart – Panecillo, Quito, Ecuador – History, Public Spaces, Identities – by Megan Gonrowski . The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Hill of the Heart – Panecillo, Quito, Ecuador – History, Public Spaces, Identities – by Megan Gonrowski . The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The Panecillo, given this name by the Spaniards meaning “little bread”, is the small hill that juts up in the middle of Quito near the colonial historic center. Its Quichua (a major indigenous language of the Andes mountains since the time of the Inca) name is Shungoloma, which means “Hill of the Heart.” On top of the Panecillo, is a unique statue of the Virgin Mary with angel wings. The wings are important in this depiction of Mary because they are a reference to the biblical book of Revelations. This statue was placed on top of the hill in 1975, by the Spanish sculpture Agustín de la Herrán Matorras. The statue is made up of over 7,000 individual pieces of aluminum. The statue is one of the best landmarks in Quito because it can be seen from many different parts of the city. I first saw the Panecillo from afar when I visited the Basilica on one of my first days in Quito. The view from the Basilica is amazing to look over the city, but I can honestly say the view from the Panecillo is better because at the top of the Mary statue there is a 360-degree observation deck.

However, this tourist attraction or historical landmark, whichever way you look at it, has a deep-rooted identity with the people of Quito. I will share the story of the North versus the South as it has been told to me by local people from Quito. First, it is important to understand that Quito is a long city nestled in the Andes mountains and the city scape stretches from North to South. For a long time, the North has been known as the nicer and wealthier part of the city and the South has been assigned the opposite description. Whether it is fair or accurate, The South is often called dangerous or the poor part of Quito. This may have been true at one point in Quito’s history, but as the city’s population grows so does the blending between the North and the South in terms of wealth and areas that are possibly dangerous to walk around after dark. However, it is true that in the very northern part of Quito, the wealthiest neighborhoods still exist. This is not to say that there are not nice neighborhoods in all parts of Quito. My host family actually told me that the wealthiest people in Quito live in the North directly at the base of a volcano that has been inactive for decades, but she said if it were to ever seriously erupt, that neighborhood would go first.

The reason that the stereotypical differences between the North and the South is important for the history of the Panecillo, is because the Virgin Mary at the top cannot face both ways. Whether by coincidence or not, the Virgin has her back turned to the South. Therefore, giving the South the nickname “la espalda” or the back of the city. When the statue went in there was a lot of protest from the South because they obviously got the worse view of the statue. Many people from the South claim that this choice to place the statue facing the North was a public statement — that the North is the better part of Quito.

However, just to play devil’s advocate. I couldn’t help but notice that while visiting the Basilica and the Panecillo, that the Basilica and the statue of the Virgin Mary are directly facing each other from across the city. Both areas are on top of hills that surround the old city and its historic center where the President and other government officials reside. Perhaps, the importance of having the statue facing the Basilica could be an unbiased justification for why the statue faces one direction and not the other. Regardless of if this placement was intentional or not, many people still believe it to be true and this supposed coincidence still helps to fuel stereotypes about the people and living conditions in the South.

Megan serves as an assistant editor for NSR.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our guiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five years we have published over 300 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our volunteer student editors and writers come from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). We have an all volunteer staff. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang and NSR Student Editors and Writers. For a brief summary of our history, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Ellie Swanson and Marin Ekstrom, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is fully funded by an annual donation from Professor Liang. The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy.

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Filed under Megan Gonrowski, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

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