Quito, Ecuador {Part 1}

Thursday, February 26

The only thing I knew about Quito prior to embarking on this trip, was that it was the capital of Ecuador, and that it sat at 9,350 feet {talk about being out of breath, haha!} But…what I learned about Quito made me a total believer of this incredible city. Armed with our guidebook, and more importantly our awesome local guide Alicia {who is a former President's daughter…so if anyone knows about this city, it's her!}, we set of to experience this historical town.

First thing to know about Quito is that it has the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved historic center in the Americas {eye-candy to explore!}. Random tidbit, but Quito was the first site (along with Krakow, Poland) to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. Fortunately, in the last few years the government has funneled enormous amounts of money to restore the historic center, and for that we were very grateful! 

Since we were staying at Casa Victoria, we started our walking tour at the base of the Panecillo (which is a 200 meter high hill, with the statue of the Virgin Mary atop it…see the picture above!). But this would be a great place to start any walking tour! Avenida 24 de Mayo is a popular street to soak in the sites, and is on the way towards the main plazas. 

Strolling past Av 24 de Mayo, you'll wind your way to the first of the great Plazas... Plaza San Francisco. The majestic building that stands in the middle of the plaza is Inglesia San Francisco, and is the oldest colonial edifice in the city and the largest religious complex in South America! According to our guidebook, it was begun on the site of an Inca royal house within weeks of the city's founding in 1534, and the first wheat grown in Ecuador was sprouted in one it's courtyards! 

Just down the way from Plaza San Francisco is La Ronda, one of the best-presevered colonial streets in Old town. Alicia was telling us how this area used to be very dangerous, but has been restored and is now lined with cafes and art galleries! Score! 

We then wandered further towards the main square of the historic district…Plaza Grande. On the way there, you'll see the Central Bank, which is now a museum you can explore.  In Quito Part 2, I'll be showing you the full spread of pictures from Plaza Grande, including the Palace where Alicia and her father worked during his presidency!!

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