Tulipe: Ancient Sun Culture in Ecuador, the Center of the World


Tulipe: Ancient Sun Culture in Ecuador, the Center of the World

Tulipe: Ancient Sun Culture in Ecuador, the Center of the World

Metropolitan Touring’s guests can now visit Tulipe in a kind of pilgrimage to this sacred place, a spiritual, mystical encounter with nature, for a better understanding of the importance of the sun for the ancient civilizations of the Center of the World – including a visit to the monument marking Latitude 0°.

At the heart of an exuberant subtropical forest to the northwest, very close to Quito the capital of Ecuador, lays Tulipe, the ceremonial center of the Yumbo culture.  Bordering a river of crystal-clear waters, this is a unique energetic site where ceremonial practices of this pre-Hispanic society took place to honor the sun,  their highest deity.

The Yumbos were peaceful people dedicated to agriculture and commerce, with a close relationship with their environment and solar cosmovision.  After years of patient work the Tulipe site has now been open for visitors, featuring an on-site interpretation center and stone structures like pools or water mirrors of various forms, where the shamans (priests) and yachaks (sage men) performed astronomic observations, ceremonies and cults to the sun and the moon.  A hike on a path leading to the main pool is particularly interesting, surrounded by trees and medicinal, ritual and ornamental plants that border the Tulipe River.

The pre-Hispanic Yumbo ethnia lived in this region from 800 to 1660; they were mindalaes or merchants, who controlled the crucial trade route between the Pacific Coast, the Andes and the Amazon to the east.  Their very interesting ancient mountain paths or coluncos can still be used; these are deep and narrow passageways, covered by entwined vegetation that formed a roof and allowed the merchants to travel under this cool protection.

The ancient inhabitants of Ecuador, right on the Earth’s equator, had the unique opportunity to observe the sky at its greatest, both during days and nights.   Being at the Center of the World, and up in the mountains, they had an excellent natural location for astronomic observations, an entire panorama of the celestial heavens, as both the northern and southern skies are visible, and  it was easier for them to determine the movements of the Sun.  The sun not only determined the agricultural cycles, it was considered the highest deity in the Andean world.


Metropolitan Touring is one of South America's best-known and most-respected travel companies. It has been providing unrivalled service to guests for over five decades. The company runs its own ground operations in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Chile, and owns and operates the finest ships for expeditions in the Galapagos Islands, the M/V Santa Cruz, Yacht Isabella II and Yacht La Pinta, as well as the Finch Bay Eco Hotel. Find out more at For press enquiries, contact Dominic Hamilton, Phone: (593) 2 298 8200  Ext. 3420

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