The Capital City of Ecuador - Quito is about 9,200 feet above sea level, it has wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 22 km south of the equator. Quito is nestled in a valley flanked by magestic mountains and on a clear day, several snow-capped volcanoes are visible from the capital.
As well as being in a beautiful location, it is rich in history and much of the old colonial town is well preserved, the buildings are unchanged and to walk down colonial Quito's streets late at night is to step into bygone eras. There are no modern buildings discordantly built next to centuries-old architecture, and no flashing neon signs to disrupt the ambiance of the past. Quito nestles a rich treasury of religious and decorative architecture and arts. Churches whose interiors shine of gold, heavy wooden doors with inserted grilles, red-tile-roofs, whitewashed walls, fountain courtyards offer a glimpse of 16th century life.
To the north is Modern Quito, the new town with its major businesses, airline offices, embassies, shopping centers and banks. The best bars and restaurants are found here. Avenida Amazonas is the best-known street, though Avenida 10 de Agosto and Avenida 6 de Diciembre are the most important thoroughfares. The Chiva Don Otto would be a great way to experience downtown Quito at night. And a City tour during the day. Quito is a city for walkers who want to savor its charm.
Quito has a wide variety of restaurants. The best restaurants in Quito are located outside of the tourist area. However, the tourist area around Amazonas and Colon has increasingly started to offer quality food, especially lunches, at very reasonable prices. The top restaurants in Quito are located about a 10 to 15-minute walk from the La Mariscal area and offer international food. Restaurants in Quito include:
Japanese restaurants: Sake (Paul Rivet y Whimper), and Tanoshii (in hotel Oro Verde).
Mediterranean food: the excellent La Viña (Isabela La Catolica and Cordero).
French restaurants: Rincón de Francia (Roca and 9 de Octubre).
Italian restaurants: Spaghetti (Cinemark or Portugal and Eloy Alfaro), Pavarotti (12 de Octubre and Salazar) or Portofino (hotel Colon).
Chinese restaurant: Magico Oriental at 18 de Septiembre and 9 de Octubre.
Seafood restaurant: Barlovento at 12 de Octubre and Orellana, San Telmo at Portugal and 6 de Diciembre for excellent beef and La Choza at 12 de Octubre for great Ecuadorian food.
Quito has a variable climate with an average temperature of 70 degrees farenheit. The dry season runs from June to September and a short dry season occurs around Christmas.
Modern Quito is a City of two halves, Old and New. The Old City remains much the same as it did at the end of the colonial period but the New City bears no marks whatsoever of its colonial past. While the New City does not benefit from the area's brilliant history, it shines in its own right. New Quito, with its gleaming office buildings and bustling crowds of business people, is leading Ecuador into the twenty first century. Take the time to explore both "Cities", neither will disappoint you.
See the historic sites of Quito's Old Town and the City's dozens of museums; visit its hundreds of shops, cafes, and restaurants or simply soak up the atmosphere. If you haven't seen Quito, you haven't seen Ecuador!
La Plaza de la Independencia lies in the center of the Old City. The towering Cathedral that dominates the Plaza is a must, it is stunning - and it houses the body of independence leader Antonio Jose de Sucre.
Immediately South of the Plaza is El Sagrario, another noteworthy Cathedral, and a block to the west is El Palacio de Gobierno, a fine example of colonial architecture. Further west of the Plaza de la Independencia is the Plaza de San Francisco, which contains a beautiful church and monastery, as well as a museum.
South of the Plaza de San Francisco lies Cerro Panecillo, a 180 metre hill topped by a statue of the Virgin of Quito. The views from the top of the Panecillo are breathtaking. Quito also has much to offer outside of the Old City. The beautiful Guápulo neighbourhood, the parks La Carolina and Metropolitano, and great museums in the old town and the modern center.
Museo de Arte Colonial - this museum houses what many consider to be Ecuadors best collection of colonial art from the 16th to 18th centuries. There is also a collection of period furniture.
Casa de Benalcazar - This building dates from 1534 and was restored by Spain in 1967. Classical piano recitals are held here. It's well worth the visit.
Museo de la Ciudad - dating from 1563, this beautifully restored building houses great exhibits depict daily life in Quito through the centuries.
Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana - this large circular glass building houses a wide collection of contemporary Ecuadorian work and 19th century pieces. There is also a movie theatre that shows international movies and an auditorium where classical and other kinds of music are performed.
Museo Amazonico - This museum has a display of Indian artifacts collected by missionaries in the Amazon jungle.
Fundacion Sinchi Sacha - This nonprofit organization exhibits the artwork and utensils of the peoples of the Oriente;in addition, it supports Amazonian cultures and publishes a variety of literature about the rainforest and its peoples. (Sinchi Sacha is Quichua for 'powerful forest.')
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