Founded in 980 A.D., the ancient city of Quito, Ecuador offers centuries of history along with awe inspiring views of the nearby mountainous volcanoes. Considered the location of the middle of the world, the city offers numerous fascinating attractions.
Here are 12 Can’t Miss Sites in Quito:
La Compañía de Jesús
The magnificent structure required 150 years before completion in 1765. The exquisite craftsmanship becomes apparent in the intricate stone carvings on the exterior and extends into the elaborate wood carvings of the interior. The ceiling bears 7 tons of gold leaf in addition to the gold accents seen throughout.
San Francisco Church
The massive complex spans two blocks and consists of a temple, chapels and a convent. The interior boasts beautiful Baroque wood carvings along with gold leaf and silver accents on the alter pieces and various figures. The facility boasts numerous stained glass windows. The church also houses a museum.
Considered the largest church in the city, one must admire the gothic architectural features at close range. Inside, visitors find numerous stunning stained glass windows. Different areas of the church feature
sculptures of the saints and the virgin of Guadalupe. Tours include scaling the towers for commanding views over Quito.
Casa del Alabado Museum of Pre-Columbian Art
The facility gives visitors a glimpse into the more than one dozen civilizations that once inhabited the country. The ancient artworks found in the museum date back to 1500 B.C. Though some works served as utensils for everyday life, the sculptures represent the spiritual beliefs of the under, middle and upper worlds.
This historic region of the city boasts narrow streets and beautiful Colonial architecture in addition to a number of impressive churches and plazas. Visitors may also view demonstrations provided by the many local artisans. The scenic area provides many photographic opportunities.
Itchimbia Cultural Complex and Park
This spectacular glass and metal building stands atop a hill east of the older part of the city and offers amazing panoramic views of the historic city center, the peak of Cayambe and the Pichincha volcano. The area also features over 400 flower species in addition to 40 species of birds.
La Plaza de la Independencia / La Plaza Grande
Fearing that the Incas might poison the community water, the Spaniards established a well here in the 16th century. Today, the location serves as a social centre and features the Archbishop’s Palace, the Cathedral, City Hall and the Government Palace.
The Rucu Pichincha and the Guagua volcanoes lie west of the city and rise over 4,500 meters in height. A famous battle occurred here in 1822, but today, the area hosts an amusement park, restaurants and shops. Visitors enjoying hiking the area or taking horseback rides around the mountains.
Jar din Botanico (Botanical gardens)
The gardens contain the natural vegetation found throughout the country and includes over 3,500 species of orchids. The park additionally features a lagoon for water activities and a sports complex for jogging, soccer, tennis and horseback riding.
Mitad del Mundo
North of the city, this monument represents the area where the equator passes through the country. The structure houses a museum that explores the culture and heritage of indigenous peoples. Nearby stands the Intiñan Solar Museum, an astronomy museum. The site also offers various cafes, restaurants and shops.
Covering 571,176 hectares, the location represents the largest urban park in the city. Visitors find numerous trails through a eucalyptus forest along with many different sculptures. Four distinct areas provide plenty of room for cycling, hiking or jogging. The east end of the park provides views of the Antisana and the Cotopaxi volcanoes along with the Guayllabamba River basin.
Maquipucuna Cloud Forest Reserve
Encompassing approximately 6,000 hectares, the reserve has 32 kilometers of trails that lead through the rainforest. The location serves as home to over 2,000 plant species, 45 mammals species and over 350 birds species. The site remains popular for viewing the spectacled bears.