Thirteen countries across the globe cross the equator. If you couldn’t tell from their name, Ecuador is incredibly proud of the fact that it is one of them. So proud in fact, that they built a monument, a museum, craft markets, and restaurants to celebrate and promote the tourism around the equator.
There was only one problem with this beautiful monument to La Mitad del Mundo… They built it in the wrong place. Whoops. Construction of the 100 foot tall monument took three years and was completed in 1982. The equator village has grown exponentially since that time. It is not clear how exactly the equator line was calculated to be in the wrong place, but in their defense, they are only off by a 240 meters.
In an effort to correct the mistake, a much smaller and less impressive monument has been built on the correct location. Take a GPS to the spot, you will find yourself standing on Latitude 0˚ 0’ 0”. The monument is a sun dial. It is simple and unassuming, with a nice view of the countryside.
There are some informative signs about the history of the place and the effort to build on the line. The history of monuments along the equator line and how they have been moved around over time is actually quite interesting. You can read more about it here.
The fun part for me was that we obviously had to take pictures twice.
The original monument is definitely worth a visit, in my opinion, despite its inaccuracy. It has a definite wow factor and the feel of standing in two hemispheres simultaneously.
Inside the monument there is a fabulous museum on the subcultures of each different region across Ecuador. It was the best breakdown of the history and culture of the country that we saw while we were there. An elevator takes you to the top of the monument where there is a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. From there, you work your way down through the floors and the exhibits on Ecuadorian culture.
People seem to be strongly settled in one court or the other. They believe you should visit either the accurate monument or the classic monument. I personally don’t sway one way or the other. For me, I enjoyed both monuments for different reasons and I was glad that we had time to make both trips.