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Quito – The Colonial side…

By Guest
Posts: 4

Posted on: March 31, 2010 at 1:35PM

Plaza de Independencia (the main square) is the perfect place to start a tour of historical Quito. Radiating from this core are assorted whitewashed buildings bordering narrow cobblestone streets and lovely parks. The shop signs in the surrounding streets are all small and written in similar styles to preserve the colonial feel and prevent it looking like a metropolis of consumerism. La Ronda is one of the oldest streets in the old town, it’s buildings are painted bright white with blue window frames and doors, touched with pots of red geraniums. This is a beautiful area, yet not the safest so it is best to keep an extra eye on all of your belongings. On one side of the Plaza is the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Built between 1562 and 1567 the Basilica del Voto Nacional is considered to be the oldest Cathedral in South America. A must do is to climb the bell tower and chambers above it. From here you can peer out from openings and experience stunning views of Quito, including El Panecillo (little bread loaf), the famous 200 meter hill topped with a statue of the La Virgen de Quito (winged virgin of Quito). This guardian supposedly keeps a watchful eye on both old and new Quito and supposedly protects the city from the many volcanoes surrounding it. Next to the Basilica is the Presidential Palace. Guarded by officers in traditional 19th centurycostumes, this has been the hub of much of Ecuador’s political history. Whilst tourists may get their photos taken with the guards, locals may come to hold protests and be heard here. In very close proximity to Plaza de Independencia are some other points of interest not to be missed; San Francisco Church and Monastery was one of the first religious monuments to be constructed in the Americas. It also boasts the largest structure in colonial Quito. Measuring over 30,000 square meters and consisting of a main plaza, main church, chapels of Catuna and Villacis and a large convent. Built on an Incan holy site and taking 59 years to complete, considered as the oldest church in South America and a great masterpiece of baroque art (a mixture of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and Native art). La Compania De Jesus is the most breath taking of churches. This Jesuit church took 163 years to finish. The interiors are not reflected from the exterior. The walls inside are a blend of baroque and Quiteno art with almost every inch covered with gold leaf. More than a ton of gold was used it it’s construction. The ceilings are frequently referred to as the ‘Sistine Chapel of Quito’ and many would rate this as the most beautiful church in Latin America. San Agustine Church and Monastery was the site where Ecuador declared it’s independence in 1809. The middle of the complex is home to a peaceful courtyard filled with fresh flowers. Robed monks still live at the complex today and help preserve the great oil paintings inside. There are many more attractions in this colonial city, but the above is simply my choice of must sees. Did you know? Quito was the first city to be named a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) world heritage site in 1979, along with Krakow Poland. Quito is located at 9600ft (3000m) and is the second highest capital city in the world (after La Paz). Quito is known as the “eternal spring” and is said to have the best weather in the world due to its dramatic differences in topography. Quito’s old city is the least changed and best preserved of any Latin American Capital’s and the churches are both places of worship and art museums. In a nutshell: It is best to take at least a few days to take in all the Old Town has to offer, and keep your belongings close by at all times. report a problem

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