Iglesia La Balbanera is the oldest Catholic Church built in Ecuador.
It was built in August 15th in 1534 by the Spaniards, a one year before the Spanish foundation of Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
This small and unpretentious temple is a relic of the Spanish Conquest.
It has a dramatical stone façade with a large arched doorway, supported by two columns with a mix of holy signs from Catholic and Pre-Colombian religions.
The church stands right next to the Pan-American Highway close to the town of Riobamba as a living testimony of those years and historic events.
Originally La Balbanera was made of adobe and straw, and later “fortified” with the use of stone for the main structures.
The temple was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1797, and it was reconstructed shortly after the Independence wars, keeping its architectonic design, style and integrity.
In more recent years, Ecuador’s National Institute of Patrimony has done extensive restoration of the church, both on its façade and external structures, as well as on the interior, its walls, altars and ceilings.
The church is dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary of Nativity of Balbanera and it is still a place of pilgrimage to the local Kichwa people.