Overview

Quito
Quito © David Berkowitz
Quito, the capital city, is the central hub of Ecuador, and often the entry point for all other destinations in the country. In a beautiful setting, at an altitude of 9,350ft (2,850m), Quito is nestled in the Andes Mountains, a vibrant amalgam of modern business executives and the traditional culture of the 'indígenas', or local Andean people.

The city is divided into two areas: the Old Town, declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, where the architectural influence of Spanish colonisation is evident in the red-tiled roofs lining steep, cobblestoned streets; and the more business-oriented New Town, with its shopping centres, offices, hotels, embassies and travel agencies.

Quito is the cultural centre of the country. Indígenas make up a large proportion of the population and evidence of their culture is all over the city, from the handicrafts displayed on street corners and ramshackle shops selling traditional everyday goods, to the women in thick woollen clothing and felt hats queuing for bus tickets. The Quechuan language rings through the streets and the central plazas (squares) throughout the city.

A city rich in historical churches, monasteries and convents, containing a wealth of religious paintings and sculpture dating back to the 16th century, there are also a few museums worth visiting in Quito, like the Museo del Banco Central with its beautiful pre-Colombian artefacts, the ethno-historical Museo Mindalae, and the contemporary art museum Museo Guayasamin.

Also a popular base for learning the Spanish language, Quito has over 60 language schools dotted about the city.


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