Ciudad Mitad del Mundo
|Ciudad Mitad del Mundo|
Southeastern view of the ethnographic museum's building
|Type||Museum park and monument|
|Location||San Antonio parish, Quito, Ecuador|
|Operated by||Prefecture of Pichincha|
|Status||Open all year|
The Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Spanish: Middle of the World City) is a tract of land owned by the prefecture of the province of Pichincha, Ecuador. It is located at San Antonio parish of the canton of Quito, 26 km 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 was constructed between 1979 and 1982 by Pichincha's Province Council to replace an older, smaller monument built by Government of Ecuador under the direction of the geographer Luis Tufiño in 1936. It is made of iron and concrete and covered with cut and polished andesite stone. The monument was built to commemorate the first Geodesic Mission of the French Academy of Sciences, led by Louis Godin, Pierre Bouguer and Charles Marie de La Condamine, who, in the year 1736, conducted experiments to test the flattening at the poles of the characteristic shape of the Earth, by comparing the distance between a degree meridian in the equatorial zone to another level measured in Sweden. The older monument was moved 7 km to a small town near there called Calacalí.
The UNASUR headquarters is currently under construction. Contrary to popular belief, there are only two points of interest positioned exactly on the equator: the Catequilla archaeological site, and the Quitsato Sundial.
Based on data obtained by Tufiño, it was believed that the equator passed through those two sites. However, according to readings based on the World Geodetic System WGS84, used in modern GPS systems and GIS products like Google Earth, the equator actually lies about 240 meters north of the marked line.
Over the years, countless tourists have had their pictures taken straddling the line drawn down the center of the east-facing staircase and across the plaza.
The pyramidal monument, with each side facing a cardinal direction is topped by a globe which is 4.5 meters in diameter and weighs 5 tons. Inside the monument is a small museum that displays a variety of indigenous items pertaining to Ecuadorian culture: clothing, descriptions of the various ethnic groups, and examples of their activities.
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo contains other attractions such as a planetarium, a miniature model of Quito, and restaurants. On weekends, Ciudad Mitad del Mundo's Central Plaza hosts varied musical and cultural events for tourists. Also, there are diverse local handcraft stores and local food served at several cafés along a colonial small town.
Intiñan Solar Museum
200m northeast of the Ethnographic Museum Monument is a local private attraction, known as the Intiñan Solar Museum, reportedly built to mark the Equator, although modern measurements suggest that it no longer does.
Except for the exhibitions of Ecuadoran culture, the museum is an amusement for credulous tourists. Tour guides and visitors demonstrate tricks which are supposedly possible only on the Equator, such as water flowing both counter-clockwise and clockwise down a drain due to Coriolis effect, balancing eggs on end, or weakening of muscles due to latitude.
They even ask tourists for using the SAD69 Datum. This datum was imprecise and should be considered outdated. Some inaccurate GPS readings are due to using civilian GPS instead of military GPS. The truth, which some tour guides will admit, is that latitude has no measurable influence on these tricks; they are unrelated to the proximity of the equator.
- http://www.mitaddelmundo.com/ Ciudad Mitad del Mundo official site.
- http://www.museointinan.com.ec/ Intiñan Solar Museum Site.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mitad del Mundo.|
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- Lafuente, Mazuecos, Antonio (1992). Los Caballeros del Punto Fijo. Abya-Yala. p. 70.
- Del Castillo, Eduardo (1986). Geografía del Ecuador. Quito-Ecuador: Libresa. p. 6. ISBN 997880029-8.
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