| Old town | Plaza de la Independencia | Outside
| Old Town|
|The old town has a colonial ambiance and definitely an old world feeling to it. As you amble around the streets built on
a series of hills you will pass a plethora of interesting sites including a crowded market sector peaking on Saturdays with vendors all yelling for your attention, various museums, parks, plazas and government congress buildings as well as some glorious churches, cathedrals, historical buildings of architectural delight intermingled with narrow one way cobbled streets that are always congested with traffic and policemen directing vehicles at most major junctions.|
The Empresa del Centro Histórico, on Venezuela 976 and Mejia arrange several guided tours
as well as local maps of the area (Tel. 2583827-33).
| Plaza de la Independencia|
|This Plaza also incorporates the Palacio de Gobierno and the Cathedral constructed between 1550-1562 although the tower was only finished in the latter part of the 1900s. The walls are decorated with the founding fathers of the country's capital as well as several other fine 17th-18th Century oil paintings that garnish the Cathedral.|
There is also a burial tomb of the great warrior Antonio José de Sucre in the chapel part of the building. Adjacent to the Cathedral on the western wing is the Palacio de Gobierno built in the 17th century which was later superseded by a neoclassical appearance and re-sculptured by the country's first Republic president Flores.
On level one you may view a large mural of Orellana successfully journeying the Amazon while the exterior balconies are ornately decorated in ironwork from the Parisian Tuilleries. Opening times are Tuesday-Thursday 0930-1230, only with special prior permits booked a week in advance.
Opposite the cathedral you will also see the Archbishops palace called Palacio Arzobispal. Facing the Palace northwest lies
a former 1930 constructed Hotel called Hotel Majestic with baroque styles columns that today is home to municipal administration offices while to the east of the plaza lies the newly formed Municipio.
The final historical site of note near the Cathedral is the 17th Century chapel that belongs to the former called El Sagrario also with baroque columns and interior doors which are impressively garnished with gold plating. Open Monday-Saturday 1900-2000, Sundays 0800-1300.
If you wish to take a stroll back into antiquity Calle Morales, also known as La Ronda with its street lined cobblestones
and ornate iron balconies is a good area to visit even though it is considered part of the red light area. The main areas for street market trading is viewable from 24 de Mayo up to Sucre and west of Cuenca by the San Francisco church, mainly religious artifacts.
West from Plaza de la Independencia lies the Plaza de San Francisco also known as Bolivar which houses the monastery and church of Santo Domingo. It is decorated in beautifully carved wood depictions and a chapel well preserved worth viewing.
The central area of the plaza also has an historical statue of Sucre symbolizing a triumphant battle against the Royalists
and points to the landmark where he defeated them on the foothills of Pichincha while to the south side lies a colonial archway named the Arco del la Capilla del Rosario.
Guarding the city from by gone days of war high on a hill is the Cerro Panecillo 183 m above the city which affords glorious views of the colonial area along with the Virgen de Quito statue. The Panecillo acted as a major look out for the Incas in both northerly and southerly directions of up to 60 km giving them advanced warning of encroaching invasions. The statue has an observation platform accessed between 10:30-17:30 daily costing around US$0.50 and US$1.00 for interior access.
Note: Only take taxis or hired cars up to the monument as it is not safe walking on foot from the base area beginning at Garcia Moreno street. Taxis shouldn't cost more than US$4.00-5.00 round trip. See
| Outside the old Town|
| Parque la Alameda|
Separating old from new towns is Parque la Alameda positioned north of the old town, the park has several lakes as well as a spiral tower called El Churo in the northwest sector of the park as well as South America's oldest observatory 09:00-12:00.
El Ejido, La Carolina and Parque Metropolitano
the southern face of Av. Patria, new city, lies El Ejido which fills out with several painting exhibitions at the weekend as well as becoming crowded with locals so watch out for pickpockets, in addition several local craft items are sold by vendors who line the parks concrete walkways.
A second park worth visiting is sandwiched between Los Shyris and Avenida Amazonas and is called La Carolina. Here you can view at weekends volleyball matches with seated concrete arenas off Amazonas, clay and concrete tennis courts which if you bring a net you can hit a few balls (quieter Mon-Fri), boating on the lake, horse riding areas as well as a biking track for rented bikes and also a concrete area for watching local youngsters perform various skateboarding moves and feats, both located opposite Los Shyris side.
The final park, Parque Metropolitano, located at the back of Estadio Atahualpa, is reportedly home to the largest urban park in South America and is used for jogging, long walks and biking through this large untouched forest area that occasionally has packs of wild Alpaca and Llama parading around the park in large groups. In addition, there are some picnic areas with grills Booked with the local guard house up from the car park area for US$1.00 which overlooks spectacular valley views of Cumbaya. Also, on Sundays 08:00 you can book yourself on a bird watching tour, CECIA (Tel. 2464-359) for further updated information.
Although laying on a major fault line the Guápulo district which sits on the eastern side of Quito overlooking Rio Machángara sponsors spectacular views of the valley amidst its cobbled stoned streets. The walk begins at the back end of hotel Quito and leads down the meandering cobbled streets past various bohemian styled cafes to the beautifully decorated Iglesia de Guápulo home to several gilded altars, paintings and stone sculptors of animals. The church was originally constructed the 17th Century by
Indian slaves of the Spaniard.
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