Monday, May 24, 2010

Ecuador - Quito - Mitat del Mundo

Monument of Heroes in Mitad del Mundo or Middle of The World (Coordinates 0°00′07″).

The first ever postcard received from Ecuador. Sent by Sebastian from Quito in Ecuador.

This is from Wikipedia : The Mitad del Mundo (Spanish: Middle of the World) is a tract of land owned by the prefecture of the province of Pichincha, Ecuador. It is located in the San Antonio parish of the canton of Quito, north of the center of Quito.

The grounds contain the Museo Etnográfico Mitad del Mundo, a museum about the indigenous ethnography of Ecuador. The 30-meter-tall monument, built between 1979 and 1982, was constructed to mark the point where the equator passes through the country in the geodetic datum in use in Ecuador at that time. A line down the center of the east-facing staircase, and across the plaza, was meant to mark the equator, and countless tourists over the years have had their pictures taken straddling this line. In the modern datum of the World Geodetic System (WGS84), which is used in GPS systems and computer mapping products like Google Earth, the equator is placed about 240 meters north of the marked line. This discrepancy is partially due to increased accuracy but primarily due to a different choice of mapping datum. Similarly, the line marking the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in England is roughly 100 meters from the exact zero of longitude as indicated by GPS receivers.

The pyramidal monument, with each side facing a cardinal direction, is topped by a 4.5 meter diameter, 5-ton globe. Inside the monument is a small museum that displays elements of indigenous Ecuadorian culture, such as clothing, descriptions of the various ethnic groups, and examples of their activities. Mitad del Mundo contains other attractions such as a Planetarium, an amazing miniature model of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and restaurants. On weekends, Mitad del Mundo's Central Plaza is host to varied musical and cultural presentations for tourists.

A small town surrounding the monument at the Museo Etnográfico functions as the tourist center, replicating a colonial Spanish town and called "Ciudad Mitad del Mundo" (Middle of the World City).

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