QUITO

Quito is the capital of Ecuador, the country's most populous city and at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level, it is the second highest official capital city in the world, after La Paz in Bolivia and the one which is closest to the equator.

It is located in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active strato volcano in the Andes Mountains. Quito sits high in the Andean foothills. Constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, it’s known for its well-preserved colonial center, rich with 16th and 17th-century churches and other structures blending European, Moorish and indigenous styles. These include the cathedral in the Plaza Grande square and ultra-ornate Compañia de Jesús Jesuit church.

The views from Quito are spectacular with 3 snow capped peaks around the city despite it being on the equator. 

The historic centre of Quito is one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved in the Americas. Quito and Kraków, Poland, were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO, in 1978.The central square of Quito is located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the equator. The city itself extends to within about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of zero latitude. A monument and museum marking the general location of the equator is known locally as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the world). It is also worth a visit although it is very touristy.

The word Ecuador is Spanish for equator.

Accommodation:

Hilton Colon Quito Hotel

Attractions:

1. Quito Old Town

Quito’s historic center extends over 320 hectares and is the largest historic center in the Americas. Made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, Quito has taken great pride in restoring its colonial buildings and sprucing up its public spaces to ensure that both locals and visitors continue to breath life into the old town.

2. Independence Plaza:  

Known as Plaza Grande to the locals, was Quito’s main square in the 16th century, serving as central market and bullfighting area. The plaza contains several important buildings: the Archbishop’s Palace to the north, City Hall to the east, the cathedral to the south, and the white, Government Palace to the west.

3. Church of the Society of Jesus

Construction of this church began in 1605, though the building was not completed until 1765. It is considered Quito's most ornate church. During the colonial period, the church’s bell tower was the tallest structure in Quito, but it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1859. Rebuilt within six years, it was again destroyed shortly after by another earthquake and was never rebuilt.

4. Basilica of the National Vow:

Often called La Basilica, is one of the most beautiful Roman Catholic churches in Quito. Set up on a hill and visible from almost anywhere in the city, it’s particularly striking after dark, when it is illuminated. Construction began in 1883 on what became the largest neo-Gothic church in the Americas, measuring 459 feet (140 meters) long and 115 feet (35 meters) wide, and reaching a height of 98 feet (30 meters) in the nave. 

5. San Francisco Church:  

Nestled in the historic downtown area of Quito, visitors find the first Catholic Church built in the city. The amazing architecture of this Baroque church blends different styles that were incorporated over the more than 100 years of construction. 

6. El Panecillo

At 9,895 feet (3,016 meters) above sea level, El Panecillo is Quito’s most popular lookout, affording 360-degree views over the city. On a clear morning you can even see as far as Cotopaxi’s distinctive volcano. The aluminum statue of the Virgin Mary was introduced to the Panecillo in 1976 and was inspired by the Virgen de Quito (Quito’s Madonna), which can be seen in the Church of St. Francisco.

7. Presidential Palace:

The Presidential Palace is located in Quito’s Independence Square and is currently the seat of government of the Republic of Ecuador.

8. Middle of the World Monument:

The Monument at La Mitad del Mundo commemorates the site where the 18th century French explorer Charles Marie de la Condamine once calculated the globe's equatorial line. A trapezoidal monument in the center of the park houses a viewing platform. There is a small museum on the equator which pays tributes to local indigenous cultures.

While most visitors come to the Middle of the World for a photo opportunity with one foot in either hemisphere, there’s more to this day trip destination than just a painted line. The 98-foot stone obelisk, which contains an Ethnographic Museum, is surrounded by a replica of a traditional Amazon village. Visitors will also find a small planetarium, a scale model of colonial-era Quito, a Craft Beer Museum, and Cocoa Museum, all on-site.

Restaurant:

1. La Carniceria

2. Theatrum

3. Cafe Dios no Muere