One and a quarter hours from Quito, capital of Ecuador, stands the beautiful and little known colonial Hacienda of San Agustín de Callo. Built on the site of an Inca palace, one of the two most important archaeological Inca sites in Ecuador, and the point furthest north from Cuzco of Imperial style construction, this working farm offers an unrivalled glimpse into Ecuador’s rich and colourful past. Since the 15th century San Agustin de Callo has served as Inca fortress, Augustinian convent and temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission whose scientific results helped to determine the true shape of the planet. Famous visitors include Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa who were appointed by the King of Spain to host the Geodesic Mission in 1736, the awesome scientific enterprise organized and led by Charles-Marie de la Condamine; Alexander von Humboldt German scientist and renowned naturalist and explorer and the illustrious English mountain climber Edward Whymper. Cotopaxi was also immortalized by the famous painter, Frederic Church (Hudson River School) in 1859.
In 1921 the Hacienda was purchased by General Leonidas Plaza Gutierrez, leader of the liberal Revolution. Plaza went on to become President of Ecuador in 1901 and again in 1912, a position which was to be held by his son Galo Plaza in 1948. The Hacienda has remained in the family to this day and is currently owned by the General´s granddaughter, Mignon Plaza, whose father, the distinguished congressman and legendary amateur bullfighter, Jose María Plaza, played a pivotal role in politics throughout his life.The location of the hacienda within the Avenue of the Volcanoes (term coined by Alexander von Humboldt) near Indian villages and local markets, added to the historical significance of the house with its architectural blend of unusual styles and its archaeological value contribute to make San Agustin a unique place to visit.
“Cotopaxi’s shape is the most beautiful and regular of all the colossal peaks in the high Andes. It is a perfect cone covered by a thick blanket of snow which shines so brilliantly at sunset it seems detached from the azure of the sky.” Alexander von Humboldt, 1820.