The Church of the Society of Jesus, (in Spanish, Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús), often called la Compañía, is a Jesuit church in Quito and is one of the most significant works of Spanish Baroque architecture in South America.
The company in question is the Jesuit order, a powerful religious group that exercised authority in Ecuador. The first Jesuit priests arrived in Quito in 1586 with the mission to establish a church, school and monastery.
Construction of this church began in 1605, though the building was not completed until 1765. It is considered Quito's most-ornate church is and often called the country's most-beautiful church. During the colonial period, the church’s bell tower was the tallest structure in Quito, but it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1859. Rebuilt within six years, it was again destroyed shortly after by another earthquake and was never rebuilt.
The 160-year construction period explains the difference in design between the Baroque facade and the Renaissance interior. The floor plan is in the shape of a Latin cross, and the architects incorporated elements of four architectural styles, Baroque being the most prominent. Moorish influence can be seen in the geometrical figures on the pillars in the nave, and there are neoclassical influences as well.
The decoration includes gold-leaf work, gilded plaster and wood carvings. Design elements include a near-symmetrical facade, with 10 side altars and a gold-plated altar plated. Much of the artwork was done by artists of the Quito School.
The Church of the Society of Jesus is located at the corner of Benalcazar 562 and Antonio Jose de Sucre. Admission is $4 for foreigners. Guided tours in Spanish or English are included in admission. Entrance is free on the first Sunday of the month. The church is open Monday through Thursday 9:30am – 6:30pm, Friday 9:30am – 5:30pm, Saturday 9:30am – 4:15pm, and Sunday 12:30 – 4:15pm.