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Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-pyramids of CoshasquiFormerly, Quito was the place where the Quitus lived, their dominions were extended to the territories of Aloag, Amaguaña, Calacalí, Chillogallo, Conocoto, Cumbayá, Gualea, Guápulo, Guayllabamba, Lloa, Machachi, Píntag, Pomasqui, Puembo, Quinche, Sangolquí , Tumbaco, Uyumbicho, etc.

Later, the Caras, whom were located in the coasts of Manabí conquered the Quitus giving as a result a culture known as Quitu Caras, who adored the moon, the sun, the pachamama; They did not need to build great temples because this placed is privileged due to the great elevations that allowed them to use them as astronomical observatories known as Yata Pajtá by the Quitu Caras, which are: Itchimbía, Panecillo, Catequilla, San Juan and Cima de la Libertad.

This method of observation and accumulation of information was used for many years and having patience each year the repetition of the phenomenon was checked, pointing out the length of the projected shadow on objects that later served as a prove to determine that this is the Middle of the world.

According to historians Alfredo Costales Samaniego and Piedad Peñaherrera de Costales, it was a highly developed civilization, that long before the arrival of the French Geodesic Mission, had already verified the form of Earth and knew that it was in the middle of the world, proof of this is that the Quitu-Caras knew two type of wheels:

“The one of sacred character or symbol of the movement of the Earth and the one of work, lura or chipu, which speaks of a cylindrical piece that allows to pass to the other side of the river” (Costales, P, A. The Tree of God, 1968 , P14).

Ancestral cultures were true astronomers that discovered the shape of the Earth, by their observations of the sun and continuous voyages across the sea in villas (boat type) starting from the astronomical position of the middle of the world, evidence that they had a high knowledge of the terrestrial movement.

“Perhaps it is not the movement of the Earth that leads man to elaborate the wheel of work. To verify and to represent the movement of the planet presupposes great astronomical knowledge and those will have reached, long after the use of the working wheel “(Costales, P, A. The Tree of God, 1968, p15). Boat

First Geodesic French Mission

Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-camp of the first Geodesic Mission
Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-camp of the first Geodesic Mission

From ancient times, man wanted to know the shape of the Earth and even measure it accurately, so, during the eighteenth century the controversy over the shape of the Earth grew. To resolve this controversy, King Louis XV orders the Paris Academy of Science to resolve this controversy. It is then when two expeditions depart from France to the most extreme sites of the globe: one to Lapland (North Pole) and another to what we currently known as Ecuador. Its mission was to measure an arc of terrestrial meridian and thus to establish the form of the Earth.

The Academy of Science of Paris sent the first geodesic mission the 16 of May of 1735, that left the French port of the Rochelle and was led by the French Louis Godin, the Charles Marie de la Condamine, Pierre Bouguer, and his assistants Jussieu , Morainville, Hugo, Verguin, Godin des Odonnais and Seniergues.

Because the King of Spain Philip V granted the permit, he appointed two young sailors, Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa to represent Spain within the Mission and were joined by the Ecuadorian sage Pedro Vicente Maldonado.

On May 16, 1735, they depart from France to equatorial lands arriving on March 9, 1736. In June, measurements begin where the north end was Caraburo (Yaruquí area, east of Quito) and Oyambaro the southern end, being a total of 12226 meters. The measurement of 32 triangles in the inter-Andean alley lasted from 1736 and 1740.

The length between Cochasqui (Pichincha) and Tarqui, the long astronomical observations served by the stars of the constellation Orion, having arrived, after about three years in 1743 to the conclusion that the meridian arc was 3 ° 7 ’11 “.

Second French Geodetic Mission

Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-investigation of the second Geodesic Mission
Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-investigation of the second Geodesic Mission

The contribution of the Condamine Mission to the knowledge of the shape and dimensions of the Earth was remarkable; however, the advances of science determined that in the mid-nineteenth century, the problem of the precision with which it was used basis of Geodesy*.

The International Geodesic Association, founded in 1862, had raised the need to remedy the arches of Lapland and Ecuador. It was France that once again undertook the work of the Geographical Institute of the Navy.

In 1899 a survey was carried out and it was decided to measure a larger arch than the one of the Mission of the Condamine.

This mission was carried out in the 20th century, from 1902 to 1906 they measured an arc of 5º3’34 “, between Tulcán to the North and the Peruvian Port of Paita to the South. It was commanded by Georges Perrier and Paul Rivet.

*Geodesy: Science that studies the shape, size of the Earth and the positions on it.

Third French Geodesic Mission

Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-third Geodesic Mission getting measurements on the top of Chimborazo
Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-third Geodesic Mission getting measurements on the top of Chimborazo

In 2016, 280 years after the arrival of the French Geodesic Mission were completed. The French Embassy in Ecuador brought together French and Ecuadorian actors from various fields around the Third Geodesic Mission in order to highlight scientific and cultural cooperation between our countries.

Additional The Research Institute for Development (IRD); IGM, the Geophysical Institute IGM, the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School IG-EPN, successfully reached the summit of Chimborazo on February 5, 2001, carried out a high-precision satellite measurement to determine the distance from the center of the earth to the summit of Chimborazo, proving that the “Taita Chimborazo*” is the farthest point to the center of the earth, a measurement taken from the center of the planet.

*Taita: Quechua word meaning Dad. *Chimborazo: Highest mountain and volcano in Ecuador.

Main contributions of the Geodesic Mission:

The French Geodesic Mission contributed to the universal culture of various forms, among the most important are:

➤ Collaborated definitively for the knowledge of the shape of the Earth.

➤ Collaboration with the wise Pedro Vicente Maldonado in the survey of the first map of the city of Quito, which was recorded in Paris in 1751.

➤ Charles Marie de la Condamine (a member of the first French geodesic mission) was the precursor* of the adoption of a universal measure of length, suggesting outside the distance covered by the pendulum* in a second, in Ecuador.

The idea of ​​the Condamine served as a precedent when, in 1791, the Constituent Assembly of France, made up of a committee of mathematicians, geographers and physicists, decided to adopt a pattern of Nature which they called “meter”, which would measure 1/10000000 (the ten millionth part) Of the distance that separates the pole from the line of the terrestrial equator. The meridian measured by Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre* between Dunkerque* and Barcelona* (1792) and that of Bouguer and La Condamine, between Tarquí* and Cochasqui* (1749) were used to fix this measure. The meter has as symbol (m) and is the main unit of length of the International System of Units, which is the distance that travels the light in the vacuum during a interval of 1/299 792 458 of second.

➤ The French Mission and especially the Condamine with its work “Journal de Voyage a l’Equateur”, are the direct cause of the adoption of the name ECUADOR when our State was consolidated, when separating from the Great Colombia.

*Precursor: Initiates or introduces ideas or theories that will be developed in a future time. *Pendulum: Describes a circular path. *Jean-Baptiste Joseph Delambre: was a French mathematician and astronomer. *Dunkirk: It is a port city and French commune in the region of Hauts-de-France. *Barcelona: It is a city and municipality of Spain, the capital of Catalonia. *Tarqui: Tarqui Parish, located in the Province of Azuay in the canton of Cuenca. *Cochasqui: Located in the province of Pichincha, canton Pedro Moncayo.

Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-geographical measurements made by the French Geodesic Mission.jpg
Ciudad Mitad del mundo-site officiel- Historical Review-geographical measurements made by the French Geodesic Mission

History of Monuments

Middle of the World Monument. It was constructed honoring the First French Geodesic Mission
Middle of the World Monument. It was constructed honoring the First French Geodesic Mission

In 1936, with the support of the Franco-American Committee, Dr. Luis Tufiño, Ecuadorian geographer, built the first monument in the Middle of the World of 10 meters to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first French Geodesic Mission. The first monument was transferred to Calacali, place where the equatorial line passes.

From 1979, the construction of the present monument begins under the auspices of the Honorable Provincial Council of Pichincha. The monument has a height of 30 m without the globe and is built with Andesite* stone, extracted from the hills of Providence and Cerro La Marca, in 1985 opens to the public the remaining nine levels.

This pyramidal monument has four monoliths* and its sides have the geographical direction of the four cardinal points. On each side of the monument are commemorative inscriptions of the Franco-Spanish geodesic mission: To the North a commemorative legend dedicated to Pedro Vicente Maldonado, who collaborated closely with the Geodesic Mission in the year 1736. To the west is an inscription dedicated to Jorge Juan And Santacilia and Antonio de Ulloa, two illustrious Spaniards who collaborated with the scientific work of France.

On the South side is an inscription of recognition to the Government of Ecuador for the scientific work of the Geodesic Mission of France and to the East an inscription dedicated to La Condamine and his French colleagues of the mission.

The globe has the representations of the meridians and equatorial line, besides this, it indicates the real position of the Earth in its orbit. The structure is made of iron and the outside is made of embossed* aluminum, weighing 5 tons and 4.5 m in diameter. It was donated by the National Polytechnic School.

Subsequently, Dr. Patricio Romero Barberis and the Provincial Council decided to undertake the project of the construction of the Middle of the World City, which was designed as a representation of a typical Spanish colonial style village with all its characteristic elements. This project started in 1981 and was materialized in 1992, under the presidency of Osvaldo Hurtado.

*Andesite: Volcanic igneous rock, usually dark in color. *Monoliths: Human constructions formed by a single block of stone. *Embossed: Artisan technique that consists of working plates of metal, leather or other materials to obtain an ornamental figure in relief.


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