Quito

Quito: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: December 21, 2020

The capital of Ecuador is located at 2800 meters, an altitude that makes the equatorial climate more bearable. Swollen by the rural exodus, the population exceeds three million in an urban area 50 kilometres long. The central colonial quarter, designated by UNESCO, concentrates most of the interest, although it is necessary to choose among the forty or so churches.

01. Plaza Grande

In Quito, streets and squares generally bear two names, the Main Plaza being also the Independence Square. Its layout dates back to the 16th century, the Spanish city was built around it. The major political and religious authorities continue to remain there, while passers-by wander between meticulously kept flowerbeds.

02. Palacio de Gobierno

The Carondelet Palace contains both the Presidency of the Republic and the seat of government. Every Monday at 11:00 am, the guards in dress uniform practice a guard change, under the eyes of the President waving from his balcony. The palace with its large white facade punctuated by columns dates from the 18th century and remains associated with the country’s independence.

03. San Francisco

Behind the long façade, a little austere but typical of the colonial style, there is a cluster of buildings with different vocations, ranging from the convent to the school. This illustrates the major role played by the Catholic Church in the country’s organization. The large homonymous square in front of it is often used for various events, especially at weekends.

04. Iglesia de la Compañía

The Jesuit church makes a strong visual impression, both for its typically Baroque facade with rich ornamentation and for its interior decoration using several tons of gold. The religious order had based its headquarters here for its activities in Spanish America, establishing a university, seminary, hospital, logistical support for the missions and even a printing house.

05. Iglesia de San Blas

In contrast to the Jesuit church, the church of Saint Blas looks very simple, its pure lines also benefit from the new layout of the square. Originally, it was a church intended for the natives. Around it, the surrounding streets form a homogeneous unit illustrating what the colonial city must have been like two or three centuries earlier.

06. Iglesia de La Merced

The church has an imposing white facade topped by a high square bell tower. The construction dates from the early 18th century after an earthquake damaged the previous church, which was built on the basement of an Inca building. The interior is richly decorated, after the model of the Jesuit Church of the Compañía. The convent and its cloister can also be visited.

07. Basílica del Voto Nacional

At the end of the 19th century, the Basilica of the National Vow was designed by a French architect inspired by the French cathedrals, specifically that of Bourges, construction continues to this day. More than a church, it is a monument dedicated to national history, also serving as a pantheon. Its 115-metre high towers overlook the entire town centre.

08. Teatro Sucre

Completed in 1886, the theatre is designed on the European model. Since its opening, several campaigns of work have kept it up to date. It presents international tours of ballet, music or opera, the venue is also used for national events such as presidential inaugurations.

09. Mariscal Sucre district

Located just outside the old town, the Mariscal Sucre residential district is particularly popular with travellers. There are numerous hotels and a wide range of restaurants. Place Foch is the centre of the bustling nightlife on Friday and Saturday nights.

10. Le chapeau panama

The panama hat is actually native to Ecuador. Popularized during the construction of the Panama Canal, notably by the visit of Theodore Roosevelt, the straw hat is now associated with the tourist under the sun. The weaving integrating a variable handmade part continues to occupy villages in the country, to see them on sale everywhere is more legitimate than anywhere else.

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