The gateway to Ecuador
24 hours in Quito
Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is a hidden gem that has gradually emerged as a popular tourist destination in recent years. Nestled high in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 2,850 meters above sea level, Quito is renowned for its stunning architecture, cultural heritage, and breathtaking natural landscapes. WideOyster’s Frits Meyst spent 24 hours in Quito and this is what he saw.
Visit the Historic Center of Quito. The Historic Center of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best preserved colonial centers in Latin America. The city boasts a rich history dating back to the Inca Empire, with a fascinating blend of indigenous, colonial, and modern influences.
Quito is a marvel of colonial architecture, with picturesque cobblestone streets, grand plazas, and ornate churches. The city’s most iconic landmark, La Compañía de Jesús, is a spectacular Baroque church that showcases intricate wood carvings, gilded altars, and an impressive collection of religious artwork. Other must-visit attractions include the neo-Gothic Basilica del Voto Nacional, the Casa del Alabado Museum, and the sprawling Parque Metropolitano, which offers sweeping views of the city and surrounding mountains.
Beyond the city limits, visitors can explore the Andean countryside, hike through the cloud forests of Mindo, or take a scenic train ride through the awe-inspiring Avenue of the Volcanoes. And with a vibrant nightlife, delicious local cuisine, and friendly locals, Quito is the perfect destination for adventurous travelers seeking a unique cultural experience in one of South America’s most captivating cities.
La Compañía de Jesús church
La Compañía de Jesús church in Quito is a true masterpiece of baroque architecture that was built by the Jesuit order in the 17th century. The church is known for its ornate decoration, including gold leaf, intricate carvings, and beautiful frescoes that cover every inch of the interior.
The church’s exterior is equally impressive, with its imposing facade and two soaring bell towers that are visible from almost anywhere in the city. Inside, visitors are greeted by a feast for the senses, with the scent of incense, the sound of music, and the sight of the dazzling interior decorations.
One of the most impressive features of La Compañía de Jesús is the main altar, which is covered in over 70,000 sheets of gold leaf. The church also has an impressive pipe organ that dates back to the 18th century and is still used today for concerts and recitals.
A visit to La Compañía de Jesús is a must for anyone visiting Quito, as it offers a glimpse into the city’s rich colonial history and the enduring beauty of baroque architecture.
“Quito is a city that never fails to surprise, with its vibrant culture, delicious food, and warm hospitality”
Explore the Basílica del Voto Nacional
The Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito is not just a place of worship, but a stunning architectural masterpiece that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits. This breathtaking cathedral, with its Gothic-inspired towers and intricate carvings, is an enduring symbol of Ecuadorian faith and heritage.
As you approach the cathedral, you will be struck by the sheer scale of the building, which dominates the city skyline. Inside, the cathedral’s soaring nave and intricate stained-glass windows create a sense of awe and reverence that is truly inspiring.
Whether you are a devout believer or simply looking for a glimpse into Ecuador’s rich cultural heritage, a visit to the Basílica del Voto Nacional is a must. This stunning cathedral is a testament to the enduring power of faith, and a reminder that even in the most challenging of times, the human spirit can overcome adversity and rise to new heights of beauty and inspiration.
Palacio de Gobierno
The Ecuadorian presidential palace, located on the northwestern side of Plaza Grande, is a low white building where the president conducts official business. Visitors can join a free guided tour in either Spanish or English every 20 minutes, but must present photo ID at the ticket office on Espejo to reserve a spot. Due to the fact that the President lives and works here, sightseeing is restricted to areas that are not currently in use.
The tour commences at the Museo de la Presidencia, a newly established museum within the palace that showcases Ecuador’s history, social justice issues, human rights, biodiversity, and a collection of official gifts received by former President Rafael Correa. During the palace tour, visitors will be shown the Andalusian patios (once used for bullfighting), the cabinet room, banquet hall, balcony, and Presidents’ room, which features portraits of Ecuador’s constitutional presidents. At the staircase, don’t forget to take a look at Guayasamin’s colourful mosaic which depicts Francisco de Orellana’s journey down the Amazon.
“Quito is a city that offers an endless array of cultural and historical treasures waiting to be discovered”
Capilla del Hombre
Capilla del Hombre, or Chapel of Man, is not just a building, but a powerful tribute to humanity’s struggles and resilience. This monumental masterpiece, located in Quito, Ecuador, was the vision of the renowned Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamin, who dedicated his life’s work to portraying the suffering and resilience of the indigenous peoples of Latin America.
As you enter this stunning monument-cum-museum, you will be struck by its immense size and powerful imagery, which reflects the artist’s unwavering commitment to social justice and human rights. The museum’s exhibits, which include some of Guayasamin’s most celebrated works, are a testament to the enduring spirit of the Latin American people and their struggles for justice, freedom, and equality.
A visit to the Capilla del Hombre is an experience that will leave you with a profound sense of awe and respect for the resilience and beauty of the human spirit. Whether you are an art lover, a history buff, or simply looking for inspiration, this museum is a must-visit destination that will leave you feeling uplifted and empowered.
“The painter is a poet who creates with colors a world of harmony that the eyes cannot see, but that the soul perceives.”
Museos Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana
Museos Casa de la Cultura is a treasure trove of Ecuadorian art and culture that will leave you inspired and awestruck. With over 16,000 pieces in its collection, the museum complex houses some of the most significant cultural artifacts in the country, ranging from pre-Columbian art to contemporary works of art.
As you wander through the various halls and galleries, you will be immersed in the rich history and diverse cultural heritage of Ecuador. The museum is a testament to the country’s vibrant and colorful artistic traditions, showcasing an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations.
One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of indigenous art, which represents the country’s diverse indigenous cultures and their unique artistic expressions. The museum also features exhibits on Ecuador’s colonial past, its struggle for independence, and its modern-day cultural and political identity.
What makes the Museos Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana truly inspirational is its commitment to preserving and promoting Ecuador’s cultural heritage. The museum’s mission is not only to showcase Ecuadorian art and culture but also to educate visitors about the country’s rich history and diverse cultural traditions.
A visit to the Museos Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana is a journey through Ecuador’s artistic and cultural soul, an experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the country’s vibrant cultural heritage. Whether you’re an art lover, history buff, or simply curious about the world, this museum is a must-visit destination that will leave you feeling inspired and enriched.
Quito’s street food scene is not just a delicious culinary experience, but also a vibrant cultural journey that reflects the rich diversity and traditions of Ecuadorian cuisine. From crispy empanadas and savory llapingachos to sweet churros and refreshing jugos, the flavors and aromas of Quito’s street food are sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
But street food in Quito is more than just food – it’s a chance to experience the city’s lively street culture and connect with its people. Whether you’re enjoying a quick snack on the go or sitting down to a full meal at one of the bustling food markets, you’ll be surrounded by the lively energy and warmth of Ecuadorian hospitality.
So don’t miss out on the chance to explore Quito’s street food scene – it’s a culinary adventure that will not only delight your senses but also deepen your understanding and appreciation of Ecuadorian culture.