San Antonio Things to Do Tips by MalenaN
San Antonio Things to Do: 16 reviews and 39 photos
At La Mitad del Mundo
La Mitad del Mundo means the middle of the world. This is the place where an European expedition made measurements in 1736 and stated that this is where the equator is. The expedition was lead by the Frenchman Charles-Marie de La Condamine and during his expedition it was also proved that the world bulges near the equator.
At La Mitad del Mundo the equator is painted as a yellow line and you can take photos were you stand with one foot in each hemisphere (you could at least think that). However, modern measurements have proven that the exact location of the equator is not here but a few hundred metres away. At Museo de Sitio Intiñan they say that this is where the equator is (and it also says so in some guidebooks), but I have read that the equator is not here either. So where is it? Maybe at Catequilla, an ancient indigenous site on a nearby hill.
Anyway, the equator is near to La Mitad del Mundo. At the centre of La Mitad del Mundo there is a 30m high stone monument with a brass globe on top. Inside the monument there is an ethnographic museum and a viewing platform from where you will have nice views of the surroundings. Inside the complex there are several museums and exhibition halls, restaurants and souvenir shops. At weekends it can be quite crowded and live music is sometimes performed on Sunday afternoons.
La Mitad del Mundo is open between 9 - 18 on Monday - Friday, and between 9 - 20 on Saturday - Sunday. There is an admission to enter the complex, $2 (August 2011) and for some museums there is an extra admission.
Ethnographic Museum at La Mitad del Mundo
Inside the 30m-high monument at La Mitad del Mundo there is an Ethnographic Museum. There are several floors with exhibitions of Ecuador’s different indigenous cultures. There are clothes, artefacts and photographs. It is well displayed and there are information posters in both Spanish and English.
To visit the museum, and the viewing platform in the monument, cost $3 extra (August 2011), besides the $2 you pay when entering the complex.
Model of Cuenca
Besides the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument at La Mitad del Mundo there are several other museums/exhibition halls within the complex. Those are some of them:
- Museo del Quito en Miniatura, where they have a model of Colonial Quito in scale 1:200. It was closed (maybe for lunch) when I visited. I looked in through an open door but didn’t see anything in the dark. I took a photo with flash to see if there was anything hidden in the dark and it turned out to be a model of what looks like Cuenca.
- Planetarium, where they show an astronomy show which is 35 minutes long.
- The French Pavillion, with an exhibition about Charles Marie de La Cardamine and his expedition
- Ecuador Insectarium, with a small exhibition on Ecuadorian insects
- Spanish building, showing artwork.
There is an extra admission to some of them.
At the Equator
Around 200-300 metres from the La Mitad del Mundo complex is the outdoor museum Museo de Sitio Intiñan. Here you will once again be able to stand with one feet in each hemisphere, but it is said that this is the site of the real equator, measured with modern GPS.
A guided tour, in Spanish or English, around the site is included in the admission of $3 (August 2011). There are exhibitions of some indigenous cultures and Ecuadorian plants and animals. Among other things there is a real shrunken head on display. At the painted line indicating the equator you will be shown some experiments, like seeing the Koriolis centrifuged forces in a sink on each side of the equator and on the equator. You can also try to balance an egg on the head of a nail, which I succeeded doing. Well, some guidebooks say that the experiments done are only fake, but it is quite interesting anyway.
The museum is open daily between 9.30 - 17.
The volcanic crater Pululahua
About 4km northwest of La Mitad del Mundo is the crater of the extinct volcano Pululahua. It is 2400 years since it last had an eruption. The crater is 5km across and about 400m deep. The soil in the crater is fertile and from the viewpoint you can see a patchwork of cultivated fields, and some farmhouses scattered about.
When you visit Mitad del Mundo you will probably be approached by someone selling tours to Pululahua. There are longer hiking tours, tours to the viewpoint including a stop at the nearby replica of a Inca Sun Temple, and tours only to the viewpoint. I decided to go to the viewpoint, Mirador de cráter Pululahua with Calimatours. It is a tour that takes around one hour only, and that suited me well as I wanted to visit Museo Solar Inti Ñan as well before going back to Quito. The bus ride to Pululahua didn’t take long and there we visited the viewpoint. There was a guide on the tour who told us about the crater and life there today. Before going back to La Mitad del Mundo the others in the group bought some souvenirs. The tour was $3 per person (August 2011).
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