"The Middle of the World" San Antonio by toonsarah

San Antonio Travel Guide: 23 reviews and 91 photos

Mitad del Mundo monument

The Middle of the World – you might imagine that this is at the centre of the earth’s core! But no. El Mitad del Mundo is the name given to both a monument near Quito, and the area immediately around it.

The monument was erected to mark the line of the equator, but rather than cause confusion, as “Ecuador” means “Equator” in Spanish, it was given this more fanciful name. Today we know that in any case the monument stands not on the equator but very near it instead, but that is because we now have more sophisticated means of measuring such things than did those whose exploits are commemorated here.

The monument here commemorates the work of the French Geodesic Mission in 1736. In that year a multi-national team – Spanish, French and Ecuadorean – was sent to this region to try to scientifically verify the roundness of the Earth, and to establish whether its circumference were greater around its equator or around the poles. In doing this they needed to establish the exact line of the equator, and this is where they determined it lay – close, but not quite accurate, although impressive for that day and age.

By the monument is a line where you can stand, supposedly, straddling the equator. There are also various museums and attractions for the many visitors who come here (it is an easy trip out of Quito).

A few hundred metres away is another visitor attraction, Inti Nan, where we in fact spent most of our time. They claim that theirs is the true equator line, though others dispute that too. So maybe we have stood on the equator, and maybe not! Whatever the true location, we had a lot of fun here and even got our passports stamped to show that we had been right at the equator!

This is one of a number of small pages about a variety of places we visited on our holiday in Ecuador. There is more information about the country as a whole and our experiences there on my overview page, linked above.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Ecuador means "equator" so this is sort of a must-see if visiting the country
  • Last visit to San Antonio: Oct 2012
  • Intro Updated Jan 25, 2013
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