Old Town -
Town" in the south of the city is also known as the Centro Historico
(Historic Centre) or Colonial Quito. In a compact area you
will find many ornate churches, attractive streets full of fine
examples of colonial houses and three main squares ("plazas") in which
to sit and watch the world go by. Some of the Quito old town
hotels are amongst the most attractive in the country.
Old Town is the focus of a Quito city tour
offered by many
travel agents and tour operators, or your hotel may arrange a guided
offer a night ride
around the Historic Centre in a horse-drawn carriage, when the many
churches with their ornate colonial architecture are illuminated.
A more economic option is to grab a Quito city map and a
guidebook and take a do-it-yourself walking tour of the Old Town - but
don't try this at night.
Plaza de la
Independencia is the centre of Old Town Quito, for both
administrative purposes - the Archbishop's Palace is here,
along with the Cathedral, the City Hall, and the Government Palace.
It's an attractive place to sit, as many locals do,
and people watch. There's almost always a group
protesting about something in the square, so you can get
some insight into the social issues of the day as well.
the Plaza, there are
dozens of churches and museums to explore within walking
distance. Unless you are on some kind of pilgrimage you will
probably be all churched out after 3 or 4 of the thirty or more
churches, convents and monasteries. La
Compañía and San Francisco are a couple of
dramatic options to visit and feature on most versions of the Quito
city tour. The Basílica del Voto
Nacional with its twin spires is impressive to photograph and can be
seen from much of the city, making it a useful reference point.
Old Town also has
and a couple of old houses preserved as they were in colonial times to
give an idea of how people used to live.
Old Town is
fascinating to explore during the day, but not a safe place to
around at night - always take a licensed taxi after dark.
Old Town Hotels: If you decide to stay
in the old town, there are some atmospheric and attractive
hotels in beautiful old colonial buildings. Given the
the evenings, it may be best to pick an Old Town hotel with its own
restaurant. Alternatively, Hotel San Francisco de
its attractive internal courtyard, on the corner of Sucre and
Guayaquil, has rooms with a kitchenette for $40 to $50 so you can go
self-catering. For more basic Quito old town hotels, the
but clean Huasi Continental, on Flores and Sucre, is a budget option at
around $10 with private bathrooms, and there are many more like it.
plazas and streets of
Old Town Quito are overlooked by the huge Virgin of Quito statue up on
the Panecillo hill (literally the "little bread roll").
Don't be tempted to walk up to the statue, as there
have been many muggings on the path and the local dogs are not always
friendly. Take a taxi to the top
Panecillo, from where you have peace and quiet with great views over
the city. At Christmas,
the Virgin is joined by illuminated wire frames of shepherds and kings
to make a complete nativity scene.
north to the New
Town and the tourist area of La
Mariscal is easily accomplished
for 25 centavos on either the
Trole bus (stops at Plaza Santo Domingo or Plaza La
Marín) or the EcoVia line (La Marín) from the
of Old Town Quito.
Spanish Vocabulary for Old Town Quito, the city's
Centro Histórico: historical centre, the Old Town of
with many churches
Trole: trolley bus system along 10 de Agosto
EcoVia: bus line along 6 de Diciembre
Destinations: Quito Old Town
Old Town Quito, the Historic Centre of Ecuador's capital, Quito, has
fine examples of colonial architecture and attractive churches.
Colonial Quito, as it's also known, is the
perfect location for a city tour through narrow streets and
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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