Ecuador Travel: Touring Quito’s Old Town

Oct 22 07:13 2012 Matthew Barker Print This Article

The second highest capital in Latin America, Quito’s charms lies in its historic
center. Visit the first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and
experience the fine view of the volcanoes and mountains which makes this
capital incredibly memorable.

Quito,Guest Posting the second highest capital in Latin America after La Paz, is blessed with oneof the most spectacular settings of any city in the world. The city is set at an altitude of about 2,800 meters (9,200 feet) and is at the foot of the
volcano Pichincha. Quito is often overlooked by travelers coming to Ecuador for the more touristic Galapagos Islands, but this reinvigorated historic city with a population of just under two million offers some of the most breathtaking vistas in all of Latin America.

Quito is divided into three main parts: the old city, the modern city and the southern-northern districts. It is however in the Old Town where all its charms lie, with UNESCO describing it as the "best preserved, least altered historic center in Latin America." Comprised of 40 colonial churches and chapels from the 16th-17th century, 16 convents and monasteries and baroque-styled plazas all intertwined by narrow cobbled streets, Quito was voted in 2011 as the American Capital of Culture.

Old Quito is a fascinating place to explore by foot, especially at night when the plazas are illuminated and the churches are ever-glowing. In 2006, the city marked the completion of its massive and hundreds of millions of dollars restoration project bringing life back into its historical center.

The pink flower-filled Independence Square is the ideal place to commence the Quito tour. Within the square is the Cathedral, the oldest in South America, and is adorned with plaques on its outer walls listing the names of the city’s founding fathers. The Independence Square is surrounded by some of the country’s most iconic buildings such as the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace and City Hall.

Located west of the Independence Square is the San Francisco Square, where travelers will find the symbolic church and monastery of the patron saint of Quito, San Francisco. The church was constructed in 1553 by the Spanish and is a perfect illustration of the Baroque school of Quito,a fusion of European and indigenous art.

The Company of Jesus Church on Av. Garcia Moreno was built in 1605 and is covered by ornate gold leaf across its interior and filled with detailed carvings of religious statues. It’s baroque styled architecture and golden altar, makes it the richest church in South America.

Continue to walk down Av. Garcia Moreno and come across Calle Morales, better known as La Ronda, one of the oldest streets in the city. This narrow cobblestone walkway and its colonial homes with colorful balconies have been elegantly refurbished and is home to restaurants, bars, cultural centers and shops. It is a charming strip of the city known for its bustling nightlife and and international cuisine.

Even with all the transformation that has occurred, Quito’s Old Town has always managed to retain its lively vibrant charm. The locals are incredibly friendly and proud of how far their city has come. Colonial Quito has now become an integral part of any Ecuador travel tour for its lofty heights are sure to leave you breathless.

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Matthew Barker
Matthew Barker

This article about Ecuador Travel: Touring Quito’s Old Town Quito in your Ecuador travel itinerary was written by a travel expert at Ecuador For Less who specializes in helping you organize best value Ecuador tour itineraries and fully customizable Ecuador travel packages.

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