Our Visit To Ortega Maila Temple of the Sun Museum in Quito

Despite being one of Quito’s most popular attractions, the Equator provides much more than the typical monument and can stand precisely over the equator, with one foot in each hemisphere. Anyone passing through the area should not pass up the opportunity to see the Ortega Maila Temple of the Sun Museum.

This gorgeous location is just outside Quito and is ideal for combining a day’s visit with the Middle of the World Museum.

Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Cristobal Ortega Maila

Museo Templo del Sol Pintor Cristobal Ortega Maila

The beauty, sculpture, architecture, and wall murals of the Sun Temple will captivate you. With a stunning view of the volcano.

We took a tour inside the Temple to understand more about the history of the Incas.

How to Get to the Temple of the Sun Museum

The entrance to the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is visible on the right as you drive away from Quito on the road to Calacalí. From the lookout’s parking area, you can see a structure that resembles a castle, with an imposing entryway walled in stone and a sun that hovers from its center.

You can also reach the temple by booking a Quito day tour that includes a stop here.

What to Expect at Ortega Maila Temple of the Sun Museum

entering Ortega Maila Temple

From a distance, you can see several long, towering stairs in the shape of a pyramid. Along its sides are enormous stone carvings of humans and animals. As you get closer, the magnitude becomes apparent, and the carved stone figures outshine the gate that protects them.

We peered up after exiting the small passageway and saw that the structure had three levels.

Three levels of Ortega Maila Temple

The first holds the heritage of Ecuador’s ancestors, whose lives were closely led by the Sun, which not only decided when to plant and harvest but also marked the changing seasons, the equinox, and the solstice.

Inside the Ortega Maila Temple

An unusually huge clay pot stands in the center. A long thin column rises over the clay pot, nearly forcing us to gaze up to see what is at its apex. A duplicate of the Mask of the Sun fills the vacant circular area between the three stories at the other end. It appears to be attempting to join a similar mask that shines from the other symmetrically arranged circle on the structure’s top.

Our guide describes the museum’s motivations as well as the Sun’s significance in ancient civilizations. Another topic is the presence of magnetic fields in this location, which lies precisely in the center of the planet.

The tour continued as we walk into a dimly lit room. We immediately experienced a sense of calm. There were “sleep catchers” of various forms and colors, as well as acoustic instruments that mimic animal noises or natural rhythms such as rain or wind. There is also a large range of natural oils, each with a specific function.

The tour immediately became a therapy experience when our guide asks us to open our hands and put some oil on them. We closed our eyes and placed our hands near our noses. The aroma of oil transports us to a state of tranquillity. The musical sounds took us to a fantasy world filled with birds, water, and wind. 

Temple door in Ortega Maila Temple

We continued with our tour and reached the second and third floors of the museum.

Ortega's works in Ortega Maila Temple of the Sun Museum

These floors are entirely devoted to Ortega’s works. We go about, enjoying the grandeur of the paintings on the walls and walking around the massive statues that appear to have a life of their own.

Ortega Malia Temple of the Sun Museum west part

The empty space that connects the three floors in the middle is striking, bathed in natural light streaming from the circular aperture in the roof that connects the temple and museum spaces.

The dormant volcano is just adjacent to the temple. Its crater is now lush and occupied, and you may explore the region by horseback. We didn’t have time because we were also visiting the Middle of the World Museum.

Bottom Line

We highly recommend visiting Ortega Maila Temple of the Sun Museum for a unique historic and pleasant Ecuador mainland experience. Our favorite part of the tour is the aroma room which includes an aromatherapy experience. The cocoa tea at the end of the tour is also relaxing. Don’t hesitate to visit this site when you are in Quito!

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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