Our top sights, highlights and exclusive tips
Quito is one of the highest capital cities in the world, a city located on the hills of the Pichincha volcano. Down below the snowcapped mountains is the city’s Centro Histórico, a place where Spanish colonial history fuses with modern day Ecuadorian culture, creating one of the best-preserved Old Towns in Latin America. A burgeoning restaurant scene, historic catholic churches, and art museums only confirm that Quito is nothing if not cutting edge.
San Francisco Plaza
Church of the Society of Jesus
The Church and Monastery of St. Francis
Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Merced
Monument to the Equator
This colonial plaza is the perfect mélange between Spanish colonial architecture and Ecuadorian flare, not to mention one of the most beautiful colonial plazas in the world. Walk through the center of the plaza and appreciate the St. Francis Monastery in all its glory, preferably on a sunny afternoon.
As far as Jesuit churches are concerned, this temple’s volcanic stone facade has made the Church of Society of Jesus one of the most unique in South America. The church was completed in 1965 and took 160 years to build. Today, it houses one of the most ethereal naves in the world, decorated with wood carvings and golden outlines.
The 16th Church and Monastery of St. Francis is one of the biggest churches in South America, and its magisterial construction shines. The temple also houses the Virgin of Quito, created in 1734 by Bernardo de Legarda. Walk inside and experience the magic that is gazing at the shimmering interior.
Incan and Moorish influences adorn the Basilica de la Merced. This spectacular building has an elegant cloister with white columns, a library, and magnificent paintings. Venerated by the locals as it protects the city from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the church is dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, and has become a staple in Quito.
Ecuador gained independence in 1822 in this very square. Today, quaint but stately colonial buildings give way to some of the country’s most important political institutions, including the Presidential Palace, the Municipality of Quito, the Municipality of Quito, and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito. The latter’s side entrance—mostly unknown to hordes of tourists—is a wonder to behold.
Quito's cable car TelifériQo is the highest in Latin America, ending at a stunning viewing platform called Cruz Loma—the foot of the Pichincha volcano. At the foot of the cable car, there is an amusement park, though the real treat is the picturesque view of the city and the peaks of the Andes at the top.
In a small town eight miles outside Quito, you’ll find the legendary Mitad del Mundo landmark, the exact location where the equator cuts through Ecuadorian lands. Standing close to 100 feet high, the monument itself is magisterial, though the middle of the park also has its charm, designed like a Spanish colonial village and filled with exhibitions, restaurants and souvenir shops.
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