San Francisco de Quito the Jewel of the Andes
To many people, Quito is the “Florence of South America”. This city, nestled in the Andes, was the first of its kind declared a World Heritage Site on account of its priceless historical, artistic, and cultural values. In 1978 Quito was the first city in the world to be declared 'First UNESCO World Heritage Site' . The city has the largest and best kept world heritage Site in the Americas. and is considered the cultural centre of Latin-America.. Quito was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and is the capital of Ecuador.
Quito’s ‘Centro Histórico’ is a well-preserved colonial city built upon the ruins of the ancient Kingdom of the Quitus. The city is named after a civilization called Quitus that inhabited the region some 10,000 years ago, when Quito’s central location was used as a permanent trading center. The Spanish Sebastian de Benalcazar founded the colonial city on December 6, 1534 and began building on top of the ruins at the foot of El Panecillo, using the stones and elements from the Quitus temples as building material. Even today it is possible to see original Quitus stonework in the floors and facades of many historic buildings. The ‘Centro Histórico’ is the heart of Quito and is full of churches, museums, plazas, and incredible vistas full of immense beauty and historical significance.
Dominated by Pichincha Volcano and surrounded by Andean mountains from Quito’s high altitude of 2,800m, you can see 14 active and non-active volcanoes over 4,000m (13.000 feet). Few countries in South America and the world can boast such a fascinating and dramatic location for their capital.. Only 40 kilometers south of the Equator, Quito’s weather is spring-like year round, but divided into two seasons; wet and dry. During the wet season it rains for a few hours most afternoons.
The Old Town
Quito is a colorful and impresive place. Is full of nice people and incredible landscapes. The Old Town, knowned in spanish as Historic Centre, is precisely that, an historic place. Small little roads, churches, monuments and parks, all surrounded by amazing mountains and the non-stop movement of a city in full growth. There is absolute NO comparison with any other historical towns in the Americas.
The Church of the Society of Jesus in Quito: Known colloquially as ‘La Compañía' built in 1650, is a Jesuit church located in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. This is one of the most famous churches in the Ecuadorian capital because of its great nave, richly decorated with gold leaf, plaster and wood carving, and was modeled after the churches of Jesus and St. Ignatius in Rome. Latin American Baroque style, the building has a nave with obvious Arabic influence and also presents works by artists from the famous and internationally well recognized Art School in Quito 'Escuela de Arte Quiteño'. Today, the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús is one of the most important works of baroque architecture in South America and is a must for anyone who goes on a visit to Quito.
The Church and Convent of San Francisco
The Church and Convent of San Francisco forms part of the City of Quito World Heritage Site, the first site ever inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. It is the oldest and most significant religious site in Ecuador. The vast complex includes 13 cloisters, three churches, a plaza, more than 3,500 works of religious art, and a library holding thousands of books and historic documents. The convent was built by Brother Jodoco Ricke for the Order of the Franciscan Monks, between 1537 and 1560.
The Santo Domingo Monastery, Church and Plaza
Santo Domingo Church borders the southern edge of Quito Old Town and stands grandly over Santo Domingo Plaza. The church represents fascinating periods in Quito’s religious history, as it was constructed by Dominicans and modified by Italian priests. Visit Santo Domingo Church to admire its impressive architecture, finely decorated interior, and sculptures and paintings by celebrated Dominican artists.
Start your visit to Santo Domingo Church by wandering around Santo Domingo Plaza. Visit the statue of Ecuadorian independence hero, Antonio José de Sucre. Sucre faces toward the distant Pichincha volcano, where he won the battle for the country’s independence in 1822.
The church’s stately tower features Baroque architectural styling and a city clock. Inside the church, admire the neoclassical and Baroque altarpieces and Moorish-style details. Santo Domingo Church is well known for its awe-inspiring collection of art, located in the Lady of the Rosary chapel and the church museum. See magnificent works by noteworthy Quiteño artists, including carvings, reliefs and stunning frescos. Also on display is the famous sculpture of the Virgen del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) and fine examples of artworks from the Quito School of Art.
The stattue of the Virgin Mary of Quito overlooks the city from the top of El Panecillo mountain. The stattue is located on top of El Panecillo and is visible from most of the city of Quito. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustin de la Herran Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a 45m (147.6 ft) tall aluminum monument of a madonna, which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo.
El Panecillo, which means “the little bread loaf” stands 200 meters high on the southern side of Centro Historico. Its peak is at an elevation of 3,016 masl, and was once the site of the Karas Civilization temple built to function as a calendar and to worship the Sun God. Today El Panecillo, or Yavirac as called in the ancient times, is easily identified by the impressive statue of the Virgin Mary of Quito, a 45m-high winged Madonna standing regally at the top. The statue, which is the religious symbol of Quito, is made of 7,000 pieces of aluminium and the replica of Legarda’s famous painting in San Francisco Church. The views from El Panecillo are spectacular and visitors can see the great expanse of the city from the observation platform.
The Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) &
The Itchimbia Park
Enjoy sweeping city views from this picturesque hilltop park and admire art exhibitions at its architecturally impressive cultural center. Escape the bustle of Quito’s city center and relax within the scenic confines of Parque Itchimbía (Itchimbía Park). Marvel at the incredible city and mountain views, check out art exhibitions and attend open-air concerts. Parque Itchimbía spreads across an area of 133 acres (54 hectares) atop Itchimbía Hill. As one of Quito’s favored green spaces, this recreational area is frequented by people jogging, walking and practicing yoga. Follow the 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) long walking trail that weaves around the park. Keep watch for some 40 bird species and around 400 plant types, including arrayan, capuli and pumamaqui trees. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the vast green lawns or purchase food from the park’s café, which has an outdoor terrace.
Gaze across the city rooftops to the rugged slopes of Pichincha Volcano. Spot notable landmarks such as the neo-Gothic Basílica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of the National Vow) and Plaza Grande, in the heart of Quito’s Centro Histórico (Historic Center). Don’t miss the chance to visit the Itchimbía Cultural Center, set inside the striking Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace). You can see a range of art, audiovisual and photographic exhibitions in addition to dance, music and theater performances. Try to tell the time using the giant sundial situated in the garden. Time your visit to the park to coincide with free cultural events such as Quito Fest, a music festival with performances by local and international artists.
For spectacular views over Quito’s mountainous landscape, hop aboard this sky tram that takes passengers on a 2.5km ride (10 minutes) up the flanks of Volcán Pichincha to the top of Cruz Loma. Once you’re at the top (a mere 4100m), you can hike to the summit of Rucu Pichincha (4680m).
Quito Middle of the World Stands as Ecuador's Most Visited Attraction
15 kilometers outside of Quito, the point at latitude zero degrees, right on the equator, is the Middle of the World monument. It is Ecuador's most visited tourist attraction, receiving more than 2,000,000 visitors per year.
The scientists Louis Godin, Pierre Bouguer, Charles Marie de La Condamine and their team, the French Geodesic Mission came to Ecuador in 1736 to prove that the Earth was in fact round, and verify Newton's theory about polar flattening.
Also, through their research, the meter was established as the universal system of measurement.
Member of the Geodesic Mission, La Condamine, wrote the book “Journal de Voyage a l'Equateur”.
Tren Crucero - An Award Winning Train
Experience the wonders of Ecuador on board Tren Crucero, recognized as the Leading Luxury Train in South America in 2014, 2015, 2106 and 2017. Modern, electric-diesel, and lovingly restored, antique steam locomotives pull a high quality convoy of two luxury, Colonial and Republican-style themed passenger cars carrying just fifty passengers, to ensure personalized service for all. A bar and gift-shop car with two comfortable observation lounges and an open air terrace complete the setup of this comfortable, select boutique train (Source: www.trenecuador.com).