Dec 2, 2011

Ecuador - Quito

Plaza Grande, the heart of the old town

We had a very good first impression of Ecuador, visiting its gorgeous capital perched at 2.800 metres height. The old town displaying an abundance of colonial buidings has a nice atmosphere and it is pleasant to wander around it. And the end of each narrow street reveals the shape of a hill or a volcano!

Some bustling squares punctuate Quito's layout. There, one can mix with a motley crowd of tourists, passers-by, shoe shine boys and street vendors especially women dressed in Andean clothes.

Plaza la Merced

Plaza San Francisco

We visited some interesting monuments in the colonial city center like the Museo de la Ciudad located in the former San Juan de Dios hospital or the San Francisco monastery, two fine examples of 16th century architecture.

San Francisco monastery

Museo de la Ciudad

We also followed a tour and visited a few staterooms at the Palacio del Gobernio, the headquarter and house of the Ecuadorian president. The actual president, Rafael Correa, is the first one to have opened the doors of the palace to the public and to display the gifts he received from foreign delegations.

Yellow room in the Palacio del Gobierno

Guards at the entrance of the Palacio del Gobierno

The mountainous landscape of Quito is quite spectacular. The city is dominated by two major landmarks: the small hill at the south of the old town called El Panecillo (the little bread loaf) topped by a statue with wings of the Virgin of Quito, and the Volcán Pichincha

Old town and El Panecillo

We took a cable car for a ride up the flanks of Volcán Pichincha to the top of Cruz Loma at about 4.100 meters height. From there starts a few hike trails but, with the winds, clouds and fog appears and disappears very quickly.


Volcán Pichincha

Volcán Pichincha

Quito has some elements of a modern capital for example every Sunday thirty kilometers of streets are closed to the traffic opened only to numerous bikers that are getting a thrill!

Parque El Egido, the biggest park in downtown Quito

Fruit juice stall, Parque El Egido

Also Quito enjoys a major work of art by one of the world-famous Ecuadorian contemporary artist, a Quechua native, Oswaldo Guayasamín. Part of his paintings are hosted in his stunning Capilla del Hombre that he conceived as a tribute to the suffering Latin American people. Quite moving!

Capilla del Hombre

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