The large modern cathedral is standing on the northeastern side of Parque Montalvo. On this site a chapel was built already in 1689, but it was destroyed in an earthquake and replaced by a larger church. That church got destroyed in another earthquake in 1797 and a new church had to be built. Once again the church was destroyed when a terrible earthquake struck Ambato in 1949.
The modern cathedral was inaugurated in December 1954. It is white with a tall bell tower and a large dome. Inside you can see colourful stained glass windows of the apostles. The cupola, which is 60m up, is beautiful painted in a blue colour and lots of light is coming in through the windows around it.
The cathedral is open on Monday – Sunday between 7 – 19.
Juan Montalvo (1832 – 1889) is one of Ecuador’s most well known writers. He was born in this house, which now houses a museum over his life, and Montalvo’s mausoleum has been built next door. Juan Montalvo was a political liberal and for his writing he was exiled to Colombia and Paris for many years.
The museum opened up in 1988 and here you can see some of Montalvos’ manuscripts, old photos, portraits, furniture and clothes. Juan Montalvo’s mummified body lay in a sarcophagus in the mausoleum. In my guidebook it says the face is covered by a death mask, but that his hands can be seen. I didn’t see any of this as the sarcophagus was covered with very dark glass.
Casa Montalvo is open on Monday – Friday between 9 – 12 and 14 – 18, and on Saturdays between 10 – 13.
Admission was $1 (July 2012).
Museo de La Provincia is situated inside Casa del Portal on the southeastern side of Parque Juan Montalvo. On the ground floor there was an art exhibition with paintings of volcanoes (many of Chimborazo and El Altar). Around the courtyard there are some old photographs and then there is a room with archaeological findings from the region. Upstairs there are rooms with paintings by Luis A. Martinez. In those rooms it was not allowed to take photos.
The museum is open every day between 9 – 13 and 14 – 18.
Admission was free.
The Natural History Museum in Ambato is housed in Colegio Bolívar, an old stone building. The museum has been there since 1920 when it displayed a zoological exhibition. There is a large collection of stuffed birds, mammals and reptiles. There are also insects like butterflies and beetles, and some stuffed deformed animals, like a calf with two heads and a lamb with six legs.
Besides the zoological exhibitions there are some pre-Colombian pottery, minerals, historical photographs, money and traditional costumes.
Admission for foreigners was $2 (July 2012) and $1 for Ecuadorians. But as I only had $1 and a 10-dollar bill, which they didn’t have changed to, I paid $1.
The museum is open between 8.30 – 12.30 and 14.30 – 17.30 on Monday – Friday and between 9 – 17 on Saturdays.
Parque Juan Montalvo is named after the writer Juan Montalvo, of whom there is a statue in the centre of the park. The statue was made in Italy by Pietro Capurro. Construction of the park started in 1905 and it was inaugurated in 1911. Around the park there is a wall with eight gates.
Parque Juan Montalvo is situated in the city centre and it is a popular meeting place with many people strolling along the footpaths or sitting on one of the many benches under the trees.
Around the park you will find the cathedral, Casa y Mausaleo de Montalvo and Museo de La Provincia.
The house of Ecuadorian historical intellectual Juan Leon Mera, whose name is immortalized in street names across the country, is a great place to spend an hour or two while in Ambato.
The house has a small museum, with interesting modern and historical art, as well as memorabilia from J.L. Mera.
The gardens are beautiful, and are nice to just walk through for a while.