El Panecillo / Quito, Ecuador
El Panecillo is a hill located in the city at an altitude of about 9,895 ft above sea level. You can drive or climb to the top - we drove - the views were incredible, as you would suspect. An aluminum monument to the Virgin Mary, standing an additional 135 ft, is located on top of El Panecillo and is visible from most of the city of Quito. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned to create the monument which he made of approximately 7,000 pieces of aluminum. The figure stands on top of a globe, stepping on a snake which is classic Madonna iconography. What is not so traditional, however, is her wings. With her brilliant (and at times blinding from the intensiveness of the sun) aluminum shell, she serves as a beacon watching over the city appearing as though she could take flight at a moment's notice.