New Quito Experience – a Visit with Quitena Artist Sara Palacios

Tropic, Ecuador’s leading purveyor of extraordinary experiences, is passionate about sharing the stories and products of Quito’s finest artisanal workshops.

Tropic’s “May We Introduce You” campaign spotlights ways to experience Quito (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) concierge-style that now includes a tour of Sara Palacios House and Art Gallery. Here Tropic’s guests may see exhibitions of local artists’ work vetted for quality and expressive power and thus some of the most interesting artwork being created in Quito.

While visiting guests are invited to play in the clay with a Quitena artist, Sara Palacios, whose work is linked with Quito Colonial Art. Guests tour her expansive garden with sculptures from a personal collection representing her efforts to preserve and restore the cultural and historic identity of Quito, something she has dedicated herself to for over 30 years.

To reach the workshop guests travel by taxi (approximately $20) to the rural parish of Nayón in northeast of Quito. Nayón has preserved its traditional ambiance thanks to a population that was isolated from its larger urban neighbor. Inhabitants here used to be the capariches: traders, street cleaners, transporters and distributors of water to the local population in the outskirts of Quito. Today the neighborhood is known for growing and selling decorative plants from all parts of Ecuador.

The Spanish Colonial home and workshop here overlook the countryside. In the garden the artist combined the conservation of trees and plants endemic to the area: guabo, faique, carob, walnut and fruit trees. Sprinkled among the living sculptures are her clay sculptures inspired by historic indigenous artifacts.

“For those with a more than passing interest in the arts this is an opportunity to learn at the hands of a master craftswoman,” says Jascivan Carvalho, Tropic’s owner and CEO ( “A relaxed visit here is a very pleasant way to learn about the intricacies of sculpture in clay, and you will have an opportunity to view the artist’s two workshops.”

The first workshop Sara calls “muddy” and is where she produces sculptures in clay that arrives daily from different regions of Ecuador. Under her supervision guests will handle the clay and by following step-by-step instructions will create a small piece using the string or plate techniques. The second is the clean workshop where she uses techniques such as painting, printmaking, drawing and where she writes poetry in her spare time.

During the visit guests are invited to participate in ‘The Cathedral Spheres’, an exercise based on the artist’s reading of the legends, characters and images of the city and on the original spheres located in Quito’s Metropolitan Cathedral. The spheres offer an insight into how indigenous craftsmen managed to turn their work into a spontaneous and creative game, one that Sara has re-created. It’s an opportunity to link visitors intimately to the city and allow them to become part of its lore and historical presence.

Carvalho suggests that after “The Cathedral Spheres” guests visit the atrium of the Metropolitan Cathedral located in the Plaza de la Independencia in Quito’s colonial center to find their own spheres.

Concluding the visit is a sampling of ‘tamal’, typical of the city of Cuenca, a treat made from roasted corn flour pastry wrapped in Achira leaves. This is based on a homemade recipe handed down to the artist by her grandmother.

For more information please see: The half-day tour is priced at $50 per person and can be booked through Tropic. The company’s “May We Introduce You” series of experiences may also lead Quito visitors to a high-end equestrian boot manufacturer, a gourmet cooking class and to an award-winning chocolatier.


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