The political and cultural capital of
Ecuador, Quito is a must-visit destination for virtually all travelers in Ecuador. Its historic center was constructed by Spanish settlers in
the 1500s and most of the colonial architecture remains to this day. The area is so impressive and so well preserved that it was declared a
UNESCO World Heritage site. Other parts of the city feature exciting nightlife, museums, art, dance, live music and many other exciting
Quito is a city that is two-miles
high (Quito is a city of mountains and valleys, with over 1,000 feet in variation). Situated at a
"average" altitude of 9,300 feet above sea level, Quito is the second highest national capital in the world, beat only by La Paz in
Just like Mexico City, Quito is a sprawling city spread out over an area of
over 100 square miles, but Quito is nestled high in the Andes and is often called the "City of Clouds".
Quito is not your everyday
destination. It's edgy and a tiny bit dangerous because of the constant threat of earthquakes and
volcanic eruptions (Quito is located at the base of an active volcano). On the other hand, Quito
is fresh, exciting, foreign and beautiful, making Quito a perfect junket for the adventurous tourist.
Independence Square is the
Ecuadorian equivalent of the Capital mall, a very clean and impressive open space within the city. It's flanked by the presidential palace, city hall and a neoclassical cathedral, but the central monument is
the most compelling feature of Independence Square. If you like churches, ask your guide to take
to see the Sagrario Church and the ancient-looking La Compañía Church, which was built in 1605, more than 400 years ago.
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