a tour through quito's historical city center
If you have just arrived in Ecuador, you will surely be interested in the capital Quito. But even if you have already spent a few weeks in the country, there are still corners that have remained hidden. Therefore, we decided to do the Quito City Tour. It takes about 3-4 hours and you pass some “insider tips” that you probably wouldn’t discover as an ordinary tourist. So let’s go!
Start in "la ronda"
The tour starts in the district “La Ronda” very central at one of the starting points of the old town, more precisely at the “Plaza 24 de mayo”. You can recognize it by the statue of Eugenio Espejo, a famous doctor, lawyer and writer of Quito. From there you can already see the famous Panecillo hill, one of the most famous landmarks of the city. As you walk further and further towards the center, you will pass many cozy little streets that may remind you a bit of Italy, because the houses have beautiful balconies decorated with flowers and each one of them shines in a different color. Just the way to the individual stops on the tour is really beautiful, because wherever you turn around and look back – you see the old town from its most beautiful side. In the process, this gorgeous photo was taken, which we of course do not want to withhold from you:
The "calle de las siete cruces"
Depending on your personal preferences, you can of course turn off into some of the side streets, which are usually home to beautiful, traditional hotels and restaurants. In any case, you will arrive at Calle Garcia Moreno, also called “Calle de las siete cruces” (street of the seven crosses). As some can imagine, it is called this way because it passes by the seven main churches of the city. The first of them is the “Monastero del Carmen Alto” We looked at it from the outside and then passed a magnificent yellow archway that finally led us to the “Iglesia Católica San Francisco”. This one is special because it is decorated inside with a striking number of details made of a wide variety of materials. You don’t have to be a believer to take a look inside, even art or architecture lovers will enjoy this building.
The absolute highlight, however, is the visit to the inner courtyard. For only $3 entrance fee, you get to see the most beautiful part hidden to the outside public in the “Museo Franciscano Fray Pedro Gocial” and you can also take a guided tour to see the old paintings and statues. The best thing in it is that at any time you have a direct view of the incomparably great garden, decorated with impressive tall palm trees and other plants. We were even lucky enough to see a real parrot there. Via some spiral staircases we climbed up to the interior of the church, where optionally some rooms can be viewed again. The absolute highlight, however, in the climb to the bell towers! From there you not only have another view over the palm garden, but also over the huge Plaza de San Francisco and the rest of the city. The trip is worth it for this view alone!
In front of, respectively under the entrance stairs of the church you can also find some catacomb-like stores, which offer really nice, traditional souvenirs and if the weather is nice, you can also sit in the associated café.
For us, the journey continued along the Calle de las siete cruces. There you pass the next church, the “Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús”, which is the most magnificent of its kind. Therefore, in order to visit it, an entrance fee of 4$ is charged, but for those who are interested, it is certainly worth it. Inside, it is almost completely made of gold elements. Afterwards you arrive at the fourth and last church of the tour, the “Iglesia El Sagrario”, where you can also have a short look.
further on to "plaza de la independencia"
Finally, you reach the famous “Plaza de la Independencia”, which has many green spaces and houses the “Palacio de Carondelet”, the seat of the president. An absolute insider tip is to go once through the from the outside inconspicuous looking door, which is, if one comes from the Garcia Moreno, straight ahead. Therefore, one enters a kind of new, quiet world beyond the hustle and bustle of the large square, where an inner courtyard with many cozy restaurants can be found. Especially nice is the more posh restaurant “La Vid “, which offers an incomparably great view of the huge square.
From there it is definitely worth to visit the cocoa store “República Del Cacao”. Already when entering it smells deliciously of the delicious cocoa specialties such as chocolate, ice cream and drinks. Unfortunately, the associated museum has closed due to the pandemic, but perhaps it will soon reopen its doors to tourists. Thanks to the wonderful atmosphere, the visit is worth it either way. From there, you can either continue towards the Basílica or make your way back. Since we already know the Basílica, we decided for the latter, but not without making a detour to one of the small typical restaurants and trying the traditional “Ponche”, which our guide Diego recommended to us. This is a hot drink consisting of warm milk, egg and cinnamon that warms you up from the inside on cold days. We can definitely confirm that! So the tour was a complete success in any case.
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