Climbing the Clock Towers of La Basilica in Quito

Climbing to the Clock Towers at  La Basilica in Quito is fun –  but it’s no Stairway to Heaven.

As if Quito is not high enough we are going higher. Unlike climbing to the bell tower at Notre Dame with the safety of handrails and enclosed stairs, climbing to the top of the La Basilica in Quito is a whole different ball game.

Safety – what safety?  As I stood up on the first landing looking down at the church I leaned gently on the barrier to take a photo and whoops, the balustrade rocked like a seesaw in a kid’s park.  From outside the church appears to be a substantial building.

Balcony on the first landing

Balcony on the first landing climbing the Basilica Towers

After exploring the lower part of the basilica and stopping off to admire the bride and groom, we ventured to ‘climb’ to the Clock Towers.

The Basilica Wedding Quito

La Basilica Wedding in Quito

Simple enough we’ve done heaps of these before. Until we realise we have to climb literally vertical up tiny narrow ladders.  Most people opt out at this point the fear of getting stuck – me included – almost.  The wind is whistling and at this altitude it seems all too daunting.

Stairway to Heaven – Just the Start

The initial path up La Basilica’s clock towers is through a series of wide stairs and is ok.  There was the fleeting option of an elevator; however it looked like it hadn’t been functional in ages, so we skipped that one. This is where we can look down upon the wedding ceremony and seesaw on the balustrade.  But we are only halfway up the fun is still coming.

Bridge across the Interior Arches

Then we walk across a narrow wooden bridge directly over La Basilica’s interior arches.  This is where I started to worry; I can see a steep set of stairs at the end of the bridge.

Bridge across the Rafters in the Quito Basilica

Bridge across the Rafters in the Quito Basilica – a bit scary

Not to be defeated, with trepidation I endured the climb taking care not to topple backwards.  Once at the top I wondered how the hell I would ever get down.  These are the best “stairs” we find out later. They at least resemble stairs and aren’t vertical like the narrow ladders waiting ahead. All of a sudden it’s cooler and windier, oh that’s right we are at about 4000 metres above sea level remember.

Don’t Look Down or Around – Vertical Ladders

Next comes these intimidating vertical ladders, somehow I want Des to go first, I don’t know why, because that means he can’t even catch me if I fall!  Anyway I have come this far and really want to make it to the top now.

Climbing the narrow ladders at the Quito Basilica

Climbing the narrow ladders at the Quito Basilica

Just don’t look down or around you, there were plenty of people who get stuck up here and the fear just sends them back down.

Then all is revealed, we are standing in one of the clock  spires on a space no bigger than a large bathroom and the maze of Quito lies below.

View from near the top of Quito Basilica Bell Tower

View from near the top of Quito Basilica Bell Tower

It’s a steep climb down and almost everybody hesitates before finally taking their first step back down. The path to the top is made worthwhile by the sights of and sense of accomplishment. Although the perch at the top is tiny and open air, you’ll get a clear view of beautiful Quito and the surrounding mountains and volcanoes.

Have you visited Quito? What was your highlight?

We’d love you to share your experience and travel tips in the comments section below!


One Comment on “Climbing the Clock Towers of La Basilica in Quito

  1. I’ve done it twice and you describe it well. It’s scary but a great adventure, and the view is stunning. The gargoyles are the coolest: tortoises, iguanas… maybe llamas and blue-footed boobies too.

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