Quito is the capital city of Ecuador.
Located in a valley on the western slopes of Pichincha, an active volcano in the Andes mountains, its elevation of around 2850 meters (9300 feet) above sea level makes it the second highest capital city in the world after La Paz, Bolivia. Its population, according to the most recent census (2001), was 1,399,378.
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- Geographic landmarks
- Contact (with Europeans)
- European Conquest & Colonization
- Modern Era
On December 6, 1534, the city was founded by Sebastián de Benalcázar.
On May 24, 1822, a troop led by Antonio José de Sucre defeated the Spanish resistance in the Battle of Pichincha securing the independence of Quito.
On February 12, 1949, a realistic broadcast of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds panicked most of the residents. A mob set fire to the radio station and the offices of El Comercio, the capital's leading newspaper, killing twenty people. The property damage was estimated at $350,000. Three officials charged with responsibility for the broadcast were arrested.
Points of Interest
The Panecillo, a hill about halfway down the Quito valley, serves as a sort of a high pedestal for an enormous statue of a Madonna, standing on top of a globe and stepping on a snake, which of course is classic madonna iconography. What is not so traditional is that she has wings. The people of Quito proudly claim that she is the only one in the world with wings like an angel. The monument, which has dubious aesthetic value and was built in concrete during the early 1970s, was inspired on the famous "Virgen de Quito" (Quito's Madonna) also knows as "the dancer" sculpted by Bernardo de Legarda in 1734, which now decorates the main altar at the Church of St. Francis. This madonna represents a turning point of the Quito School of Art (one of the most renowned of the Americas) because it shows a virgin with great movemnt that is practically dancing as a contrast with the traditional static madonnas that were produced during the 18th century.
Driving up to the Panecillo affords a wonderful view of downtown Quito.
Museo del Banco Central
This museum is an excellent showcase of Ecuadorian art and culture. On the ground floor it has a marvellous and extensive collection of pre-colonial (including pre-Incaic) potteries, sculptures, gold, lithics, and even a mummified body. There are also some beautiful miniature reconstructions that help evoke the way various parts of Ecuador must have looked like, from the Pambamarca fort to the Cochasqui temple complex. The highlight of this collection is a golden sun mask of the La Tolita culture. The second floor is dedicated to Colonial art; several paintings and sculptures with religious themes are in exhibition. The third floor is devoted to contemporary Ecuadorian art.
NB Tourists are advised not to walk up to the Panecillo, as the area is notorious for street crime and muggings. Take a taxi instead.
The "centro histórico", historical center, as it is called, was appointed, along with Prague, as the first UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site in 1979 and has many appealing plazas (the Independence Plaza being the most important) and manierist and baroque churches, including the Cathedral, the convent and church of St. Francis, which is the largest building of the Colonial era built by the Spaniards in South America, the church of El Sagrario, convent and church of Santo Domingo and the church of the Society of Jesus, or "La Compañía" which was built after the model of "Il Gessu" church in Rome. There are also several museums, many of them dedicated to Colonial art and history; some of the most renowned are the City Museum ("Museo de la Ciudad"), the Metropolitan Cultural Center and the museum of the Convent of St. Francis. Markets are scattered throughout the area.
Mitad Del Mundo (Middle of the World)
French scientists from the Paris Academy of Science, hoping to take advantage of Ecuador's geological position on the equator, sent two expeditions to Ecuador in the 17th and 18th centuries in order to measure the exact circumference of the earth. The first mission was led by the scientist Charles Marie de La Condamine; the second mission was led by General Charles Perrier.
A monument to the French expedition is located in San Antonio de Pichincha, north of Quito, where the equator line separating the north and south hemispheres is also visible. Souvenirs shops and restaurants with typical Ecuadorian food are located near the monument for tourists' comfort.
Quito travel guide
The city of Quito was founded on December 6 of 1534 by Sebastián de Benalcázar.
It is between the contemporary and the colonial, Metropolitan District and capital of the Republic of Ecuador, is located at 2800 meters (9,186 feet) above sea level in an interandean valley near the Pichincha volcano, and it is surrounded by mountains and has a view of giant, snow-covered Cotopaxi (the highest active volcano of the world).
The architecture of Quito is chiefly in the Spanish baroque style. Notable structures include a 17th-century cathedral and the churches of San Francisco, la Compañía de Jesús, San Agustín, Santo Domingo, El Sagrario, La Merced, Carmen Bajo, San Sebastian, Santa Barbara, Santa Teresita and San Blas. A large part of their interiors, especially the altars and pulpits, are gilded in gold and house innumerable works of religious art.
Quito is divided into three areas: the center houses the colonial old city, South is mainly residential, a working-class housing area. North is modern Quito, with high-rise buildings, shopping centers, the financial center and major business centers. North of Quito is Mariscal Sucre airport, through which most visitors to Ecuador arrive and depart. Centrally located, it is also an excellent jumping-off point for a number of interesting trips, including river-rafting, cloudforest exploration, birding, mountain biking, hotsprings and more.
Quito has a variety of parks. Parque Metropolitano is the largest urban park in South America. The park is located in the north of Quito, on the hillside, behind the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium. The park is an excellent place for mountain biking, walking, running or just exploring the different sculptures that are display for the public. The park has 4 sites where you can bring your family and friends to have a picnic or a BBQ. The backside of the park has a beautiful view of Cotopaxi, Antisana and the " El Valle".
La Carolina park is the place to be on Sundays. You will be among thousands of Quiteños playing fútbol (soccer), básket (basketball), ecua-volley (volleyball with less emphasis on spiking to score; more of a throw), doing aerobics, flying kites, running, snacking or just observing the thralls of people just walking around. The park is situated on the northern area of Quito not too far from the shopping district. The southern part of the park has a small pond where you can rent paddle boats. There are also many artists performing on weekends. In the western part of the park you will find the Quito Exhibition Center with different exhibits every month.
El Ejido is the park situated between the old part of the city and the modern section. Here you will find handicrafts every Saturday and Sunday. Local painters sell Guayasamín or Endera Crow copies and Otavaleños are selling traditional sweaters and carpets. Alameda park has the oldest astronomical observatory in South America. The park has a monument of Símon Bolívar and a small lake where families like to rent boats.
Last updated: 02-08-2005 09:26:46