Quito Travel Guide

Points of interest

Historic center

Quito has the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved historic center in the Americas. This center was, together with the historic centre of Kraków in Poland, the first to be declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 18 September 1978. The Historic Centre of Quito is located in the center south of the capital on an area of, and is considered one of the most important historic areas in Latin America.There are about 130 monumental buildings (which hosts a variety of pictorial art and sculpture, mostly of religious inspired in a multi-faceted range of schools and styles) and 5,000 properties registered in the municipal inventory of heritage properties.

Carondelet Palace

Carondelet Palace is the seat of government of the Republic of Ecuador, located in the historical center of Quito. Axis is the nerve of the public space known as Independence Square or Plaza Grande (colonial name), around which were built in addition the Archbishop's Palace, the Municipal Palace, the Hotel Plaza Grande and the Metropolitan Cathedral. During the Republican era, almost all the presidents (constitutional, internees and dictators) have dispatched from this building, which is the seat of Government of the Republic of Ecuador. In addition to the administrative units in the third level of the Palace is the presidential residence, a luxurious colonial-style apartment in which they live the President and his family. Rafael Correa, president since 2007, considering that Carondelet Palace and its agencies are Ecuadoran heritages, convert the presidential compound into a museum accessible to all who wish to visit it. To this end, areas were organized to locate objects within their cultural contexts, to make them accessible to the world, which used several rooms and spaces within the palace.

Basilica del Voto Nacional

This monumental Basilica del Voto Nacional is the most important neo-Gothic building in Ecuador and one of the most representative of the American continent. It was once the largest in the New World.

Cathedral of Quito

The Cathedral of Quito, is one of the largest religious symbols of spiritual value for the Catholic community in the city. This church began its construction in 1562, seventeen years after the diocese of Quito was created (1545). The church building was completed in 1806, during the administration of President of the Real Audiencia Baron Héctor de Carondelet.

One of the events that took place in this cathedral was the murder of the Bishop of Quito, José Ignacio Checa y Barba, who during the mass of Good Friday on 30 March 1877 was poisoned with strychnine dissolved in the consecrate wine. The cathedral is also the burial place of the remains of the Grand Marshal Antonio José de Sucre and also of several presidents of the Republic, as well as of bishops and priests who died in the diocese. The cathedral is located on the south side of the Plaza de La Independencia.

Church of La Compañía de Jesús

The Church of La Compañía began construction in 1605; it took 160 years to be built. By 1765 the work was completed with the construction of the façade. This was done by Native Americans who carefully shaped the Baroque style in one of the most complete examples of this art in the Americas.

Church of San Francisco

San Francisco is the largest of the existing architectural ensembles in the historic centers of cities in Latin America. The construction of the church began in 1550, on land adjacent to the plaza where the Native Americans engaged in the barter of products.

Church of El Sagrario

In colonial times, the Church of El Sagrario was one of the largest architectural marvels of Quito. The construction is of the Italian Renaissance style and was built in the late 17th century. It has a screen that supports its sculptures and decorations. This structure was built by Bernardo de Legarda. Its central arch leads to a dome decorated with frescoes of biblical scenes featuring archangels, work by Francisco Albán. The altarpiece was gilded by Legarda. It is located on Calle García Moreno, near the Cathedral.

Church of Santo Domingo

Although they arrived in Quito in 1541, in 1580 the Dominicans started to build their temple, using the plans and direction of Francisco Becerra. The work was completed in the first half of the 17th century. Inside the church are valuable structures, such as the neo-Gothic main altar. This was placed in the late 19th century by Italian Dominicans. The roof of the Mudéjar style church features paintings of martyrs of the Order of Saint Dominic. The roof of the nave is composed of a pair and knuckle frame, coated inside by pieces of tracery. In the museum located on the north side of the lower cloister are wonderful pieces of great Quito sculptors such as the Saint Dominic de Guzmán by Father Carlos, the Saint John of God by Caspicara, and the Saint Thomas Aquinas by Legarda. Another Baroque piece that stands is the Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, which is a recognizable feature of the architecture of Quito. This chapel was built beside the church, in the gospel side. In this was founded the largest fraternity in the city of Quito.

El Panecillo

El Panecillo is a hill located in the middle west of the city at an altitude of about above sea level. A monument to the Virgin Mary is located on top of El Panecillo and is visible from most of the city of Quito. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a –tall aluminum monument of a madonna, which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo.

La Mariscal

This area is considered the center of the entertainment. It is the meeting point of local people and the travelers. Its cosmopolitan atmosphere is expressed through the variety of gastronomy, artistic, cultural options and the big number of hotels and inns, travel agencies, schools of languages and Latin dances, stores, bars and discothèques that light up when the sun hides.

Parks

Metropolitano

Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua is the largest urban park in South America at (as reference, New York's Central Park is . The park is located in northern Quito, on the hill of Bellavista behind Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa. The park is suited for mountain biking, walking, and running. Most of it is eucalyptus forest with trails, but there also are numerous sculptures on display. The park has four sites that can be used for picnics or barbecues, and the eastern section has a view of Cotopaxi, Antisana, and the Guayllabamba river basin.

Bicentenario

Parque Bicentenario is the second largest urban park in Quito (surpassed only by the Parque Metropolitano), located in the site of the Old Mariscal Sucre International Airport. It was inaugurated on April 27, 2013. This park has, and it's located at, above mean sea level. The former runway has been converted into recreational space with lanes painted for bicycles and pedestrians. There are play structures and games for children. As well, there is outdoor exercise equipment for adults. The park contains a man-made pond and more than 1 million trees, many newly planted. The park also hosts cultural exhibits and outdoor concerts.

La Carolina

La Carolina is a 165.5-acre (670,000 m²) park in the centre of the Quito main business area, bordered by the avenues Río Amazonas, de los Shyris, Naciones Unidas, Eloy Alfaro, and de la República. This park started from the expropriation of the farm La Carolina in 1939. The design of the park was made by the Dirección Metropolitana de Planificación Territorial (DMPT). Pope John Paul II headed a great mass in the park during his visit to Ecuador in 1985. A giant cross has been built in this place.

El Ejido

El Ejido is the third-largest park of Quito (after Metropolitan and La Carolina), and it divides the old part of the city from the modern one. This park is known for handicrafts available for sale every Saturday and Sunday, with all pricing subject to negotiation (that is, haggling). Local painters sell copies of paintings by Oswaldo Guayasamín, Eduardo Kingman, and Gonzalo Endara Crow. Otavaleños sell traditional sweaters, ponchos, carpets, and jewelry.

La Alameda

The long triangular La Alameda is located at the beginning of street Guayaquil, where the historic centre begins. It has an impressive monument of Simón Bolívar at the apex. There are several other interesting monuments in this park. In the centre of the park is the Quito Observatory, which was opened by President García Moreno in 1873 and is the oldest observatory in Latin America. It is used for both meteorology and astronomy. At the north end of the park are two ornamental lakes, where rowboats can be rented.

TeleferiQo

The Aerial tramway Station at Cruz Loma (part of the Pichincha mountain complex at about). Since July 2005, Quito has had an aerial tramway, known as the "Telefériqo", from the city centre to the hill known as Cruz Loma on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. The ride takes visitors to an altitude of about . There are also trails for hiking and areas where pictures can be taken of Quito. Because of the increased altitude and the wind on the mountain, it is considerably cooler.

Besides the aerial tramway to Cruz Loma, the Telefériqo as a whole is a visitor centre that includes an amusement park (Vulqano Park), fine-dining restaurants, Go Karts, Paint Ball, shopping malls, an extensive food court, and other attractions.

Outside the city

La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) is a small village administered by the prefecture of the province of Pichincha, north of Quito. It has since been determined, with the use of Global Positioning System technology, that the actual equator is some north of the monument area.

Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, located a few miles northwest from La Mitad del Mundo, contains the Pululahua volcano, whose caldera (crater) is visible from a spot easily accessible by car. It is believed to be one of only a few in the world with human inhabitants.

Quito Zoo,

located near the rural parish of Guayllabamba, about outside Quito, has the biggest collection of native fauna in Ecuador, including several kinds of animals that are sometimes targeted in Ecuador in the illegal fur trade. The Zoo works in conservation and education in Ecuador and has successfully bred the endangered Andean condor.

Some of the other nearby natural attractions are:

Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve conservation and bird watching lodge
Cayambe - Coca Ecological Reserve
* Papallacta & Oyacachi thermal springs
Cotopaxi National Park
Mindo Nambillo cloud forest
Illiniza volcano
Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge
Pichincha (Rucu & Guagua) volcanoes

source: Wikipedia

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