Despite a challenging topography to say the least, not to mention the constant threat of seismic activity, Quito emerges as one of the largest and best preserved historical city centres in America. And that’s no mean achievement!

Founded by the Spanish in 1534, on the ruins of an Inca city, the Quito of today is the second highest capital city in the world (beaten only by La Paz). Located in a narrow Andean valley and flanked by active volcanos (some snow-capped), it’s just about 5kms at its widest but stretches some 40km in length, divided along the way by the surrounding hills.

Despite the many earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions that have affected the city over the centuries, the centre has managed to retain its original colonial layout. A stroll through the streets and squares is a joy – monuments and pubic buildings, windows and patios, domes and spires, steep streets and balconies, churches and convents and – always – those amazing views of the neighbouring Andes….

And… last but not least – that first glimpse of Quito en route from the airport….


    1. The city centre is lovely isn’t it. I was looking forward to visiting some of the other towns – I was hoping to enjoy some of the colour you experienced in Columbia – but it wasn’t to be. Luckily we had our walk around Quito BEFORE the Galapagos!!!

      1. I don’t think we saw anything like the colours of Colombia anywhere in Ecuador, but I loved Cuenca even more than Quito for its history and excellent food scene.

      2. We were to stay there for 2 nights which we were looking forward to – we did see some villages during our first few days but you’re right – nothing a colourful…

      3. Back for xray tomorrow.. I’ve been very very good so hoping that surgery won’t be needed at least….

  1. Although South America is not well represented in my travel portfolio, I recognise the distinctive architecture of the area as many of the adjoining countries replicate the white-domed structures, flower-filled balconies and public buildings. Quito however, is more intriguing in that it has such hilly streets and your long vista pix are wonderful. I’d love captions on at least two of your photos if you could oblige. One is the dog or lion on the steps: what on earth does this represent? It’s a great bit of statuary, I love it. The other is the bus with the man either hanging on, about to alight, or helping the driver round the corner? Do tell.

    1. The lion is at the base of the National Independence Monument in the main square. He is part of a jumble of fallen banners, broken rifles and a cannon – representing the struggle with Spain. The lion is the traditional symbol of the monarchy – Spanish in this case – he is actually leaving, defeated – having been wounded by an arrow or spear… As for the bus! I took a photo because there were illustrations of the city’s monuments and buildings on the sides and that was the closest I came to one of them – your man is a bonus Mari!! But I don’t recall noticing a pattern of men hanging off the buses!!!!

      1. Thanks for the extra information, it makes it all complete now. What a brilliant idea for a monument to a struggle for independence. Another great city I’ve missed (big sigh).

    1. Ah thank you – the whole centre is very picturesque. We didn’t really have an opportunity to look inside many of the buildings but we were impressed with the level of preservation – certainly on the outside…

      1. Sure.. Love that spirit.. 🙂
        I invite you to my blog as well and have your expert reviews on some relatively undiscovered places.. 🙂

  2. Modern high-rise Quito seems to have grown a bit since is was there over 30 years ago! But the historic parts were lovely, and your photos bring it all back. I also remember the constant, low-level headache that nagged away at me while my body adjusted to the altitude.

    1. It must have sprawled hugely in that time – but they have certainly been successful in preserving the centre.. I was CERTAIN we’d both have trouble with the altitude but we were fine for most part – maybe the odd headache and tiredness but very manageable…. XXXMarie

  3. I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog post about Quito. You have such a wonderful way of describing the city and its attractions. I was mesmerized by your photos of the colonial architecture, the colorful markets, and the stunning views. You made me feel like I was there with you, experiencing the culture and the history of this Andean capital. Thank you for taking me on this virtual journey!

    1. We’ve been to Central America a few times but this was our trip to South America – we’d been talking about it long enough so decided to finally do something about it!! Hopefully we’ll get back to see Peru and Bolivia …. I’ve no doubt you’ll get there some day Hannah….

Leave a Reply