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Quito, Ecuador - How Many Historical Churches Did You Count?

Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman - July 2011 July 2012 July 2015   » View Photoset (149 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
Quito, especially the Old City is a treasure trove of historical sites, colonial buildings and vibrant streets. I have never seen so many churches in
Ecuador Photo - Quito architecture, white front-face of a palace.
Quito architecture, white front-face of a palace.
one place. The city has some lovely parks and fun recreational activities. If you are a keen photographer you will have an absolute ball capturing the city of Quitos many delights. I had passed through Quito a few times before but had never stayed here to check the place out, this time I did and I am amazed at how much I saw in the 3 days I spent here this time. I stayed in a hostel near the Old City which had a balcony with good views at night.

Quito Walking Tour

It was a beautiful sunny day the morning I arrived. I headed out by foot towards the historical center of Ecuador's capital Quito, straight
Ecuador Photo - Juan Montalvo monument in Quito.
Juan Montalvo monument in Quito.
to Plaza de la Independencia. I always start exploring new places from the central plaza. On my way here I passed the theatre, The Teatro Nacional Sucre, its a big white building with columns and archways and gold designs at the top. Here is the theatres website. The church of San Agustin was also nearby which was built in the late 1500's by Spanish architect Francisco Becerra (1545-1605). I now came to the plaza, an attractive area and bustling with activity. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral with its green domes, on another is the Presidential Palace and there is a palace on one other side also. Nearby is El Sagrario church, an amazing building made from volcanic gray stone, it took 160yrs to construct and was completed in 1765.

Towards El Panecillo Hill

I walked in
Ecuador Photo - Big black cannon and statue guard at military college in Quito.
Big black cannon and statue guard at military college in Quito.
the direction south of the historical center towards El Panecillo hill, but I stopped at the big yellow archway that leads up the stairs to the top. Absolutely do not continue through this archway up the hill by foot, it is very dangerous. Go by taxi to see La Virgen de Quito monument.

Churches Around the Streets

I stopped at a shop that was cooking and selling all kinds of sugary peanuts. I got some chocolate covered ones, yum! By now I was just wandering the streets and going in any direction that looked interesting. Next I came to another church, a monastery, Monasterio de el Carmen Alto. All the churches have a plaque with its name on it which is good, it is hard not to come across a church every block or 2. Church Carmen Alto has 2 bell-towers and 4 stone
Ecuador Photo - Sitting on the stairs around Plaza de San Francisco in Quito.
Sitting on the stairs around Plaza de San Francisco in Quito.
columns surrounding a big wooden door. A little while later I found a plaza and a church called Iglesia del Monasterio Santa Clara, a huge line of people stood outside waiting to get in. Ice-cream is popular on the Quito streets, ladies carry around tubs with cones sitting on top, it is hard not to buy one at some stage during the day. The cobblestoned Plaza de San Francisco was where I found myself next and yes a church on one side, Capilla de Cantuna, it was a good place to sit down for a rest and watch the locals hanging out and kids playing and feeding pigeons. Soon after I found more churches, Iglesia Alianza 'El Tejar' and La Merced and a statue of Spanish conquistador Sebastian de Belalcazar. Street after street of colonial houses and buildings in pastel colors with balconies, lamps and flower pots on all sides.

Basilica del Voto Nacional

I was now walking up a road in the north / east away from Panecillo Hill
Ecuador Photo - Street-lamps, balconies and flowerpots in Quitos historical streets.
Street-lamps, balconies and flowerpots in Quitos historical streets.
towards the great Basilica del Voto Nacional church which can be seen from different parts of the Old City. I took a few photos from outside, the building is huge and very spectacular. Being the end of the afternoon I decided I would come back in the morning and buy a ticket to have a look through. The ticket cost $2, the Basilica is 150m long, 35m wide, 35m high in the central ship and 15m in the votive chapels. The towers are 78m high, 73m in the dome and 16m by 45m on the base of the towers. Outside is a statue of Dr. Gabriel Garcia Moreno (1821-1875), twice President of Ecuador. Inside I went! It's basically a huge playground where you can climb up ladders into the towers and into the clock room to see the mechanics that turn the hands.
Ecuador Photo - Fray Jodoco Ricke statue and church tower in Quito.
Fray Jodoco Ricke statue and church tower in Quito.
There are many bright colorful stained glass windows and a wooden pipe organ but the best thing are the views of Quito once you climb to the top of the tower.

Parque La Alameda (Park)

It was time now to visit some of the parks in the city. Firstly across the road from where I was staying was Parque La Alameda with its grand monument to Simon Bolivar called Carta A Simon Bolivar (Letter to Simon Bolivar). The park has nice grass areas and trees for shade, great place to sit down and enjoy a sandwich. Parque La Alameda has monuments to Carlos Maria de la Condamine, Antonio de Ulloa, Pedro V Maldonado, Luis Godin, Pedro Bouguer and Jorge Juan. Most people in the park hang out by the little man-made lake where you can hire a little pedal powered boat or a dinghy with oars and cruise around on the water. Food stalls cooking up hot bbq food were busy taking orders - kebabs of meat or chicken with potatoes. In the middle of the
Ecuador Photo - A bronze man sits between 2 real men on a bench seat in Quito.
A bronze man sits between 2 real men on a bench seat in Quito.
park is an observatory open on clear nights for star and planet gazing. Near the lake on the parks northern side is a big stone spiral that you can walk up for views. Across the road is church, Capilla de El Belen. I continued heading north past a big stone college Colegio 24 de Mayo to Plaza Republica de la India where there is a monument to Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948).

Parque El Ejido (The Biggest Park)

Now I went to Parque El Ejido, Quitos biggest park. The park was full of people enjoying the day playing soccer, having lunch and being entertained by street entertainers. A monument to Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra (1893-1979) President of Ecuador 5 times, greeted me. There is a monument also to German explorer and writer Alexander von Humboldt
Ecuador Photo - Plaza Santo Domingo with monument and church in Quito.
Plaza Santo Domingo with monument and church in Quito.
(1769-1859). This really is a beautiful park, so many trees, big tubs of mango, papaya and banana fruit salads, kebabs on a stick, a few fairground type games and everybody having a wonderful time. There is a big kids playground and bikes and buggys for them to ride around on at the northern end. Along the street at the stone archway are many art and painting stands and a whole bunch of monuments to famous men, Dr. Aurelio Villagomez, Dr. Angel Polibio Chavez, Dr. Luis Felipe Borja, Juan Isaac Lovato Vargas, General Julio Andrade, Don Ricardo Jaramillo, Sandor Petofi, Fedor Mijailovich Dostoievsky, Juan Montalvo, Benjamin Carrion, Oscar Vargas Romero, Cesar Vallejo, Jorge Carrera Andrade and Jose Enrique Rodo, they are everywhere. This brought me
Ecuador Photo - View of Panecillo hill in Quito through a club-shaped window.
View of Panecillo hill in Quito through a club-shaped window.
to the end of my 2nd day in Quito and I headed back to base for the night.

The New City

I set my last day in Quito to have a look around the New City. I took a walk down the main street Mariscal Amazonas, also known as Av. Rio Amazonas. It's modern. I visited Plaza Borja Yerovi, church Parroquia de Santa Teresita and Parque Nautico 'La Carolina' where I took another ride on a pedal powered boat around the man-made waterways. Quitos botanical gardens are also located in the park, Jardin Botanico de Quito, $3.50 adults, $1.75 kids. I walked past the military college Colegio Militar Eloy Alfaro, you can't go in but you can see some things from the footpath - several cannons, statues and monuments. Quitos new city has many airline and tour companies selling Galapagos
Ecuador Photo - A woman cooks and sells food in a Quito park.
A woman cooks and sells food in a Quito park.
tours and flights to all over the world. I saw along the way statues of lawyer Jaime Hurtado Gonzalez, President Eloy Alfaro, politician Vicente Rocafuerte, President Gabriel Garcia Moreno and political figure Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra.

Nearly Got Robbed

I have to say that at some point as I walked between Parque La Carolina and the Military College I nearly got robbed of my camera. 2 young men approached, one from behind and one in front, they asked me for $1 for which I replyed I didn't have any money (I had spent it all). I think if had put my hand in my pocket to get money out
Ecuador Photo - Quito street with Panecillo hill in the distance.
Quito street with Panecillo hill in the distance.
they would then have gone for my camera that was around my neck while my hands were not free. I kept my arms ready for any problems and looked them in the eye and stood strong until they finally went away. To me the New City felt less safe than the Old City which had a good police presence. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep your eyes open.

Bus 5hrs 30mins to Tena

Overall I had a great experience and saw a lot in Quito, next time I pass through I will see more. That night I made my way to Terminal Urbano Quitumbe for a 5hr 30mins bus ride south / east to Tena, Ecuadors jungle region.

     

View all photos in the Quito Photoset


Itineraries / Routes: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008



Distances & times (if available) from Quito (Ecuador) to:


Map location: Quito, Ecuador. The capital of Ecuador is one big city and a very interesting and vibrant one too! It's full of great architecture and spacious plazas! How many historical churches can you count?
 A : Quito Zoo in Guayllabamba - Ecuador 9 kms 9 kms straight distance | 46mins 46mins by car (42 kms) | 55mins 55mins by bus (42 kms) (42 kms)
 B : Mitad del Mundo - Ecuador 18 kms 18 kms straight distance | 1hr 8mins 1hr 8mins by car (55 kms) | 1hr 21mins 1hr 21mins by bus (55 kms) (55 kms)
 C : Machachi - Ecuador 46 kms 46 kms straight distance | 1hr 12mins 1hr 12mins by car (68 kms) | 1hr 26mins 1hr 26mins by bus (68 kms) (68 kms)
 D : Cayambe - Ecuador 31 kms 31 kms straight distance | 1hr 29mins 1hr 29mins by car (78 kms) | 1hr 46mins 1hr 46mins by bus (78 kms) (78 kms)
 E : Otavalo - Ecuador 44 kms 44 kms straight distance | 1hr 47mins 1hr 47mins by car (101 kms) | 2hrs 8mins 2hrs 8mins by bus (101 kms) (101 kms)
 F : Saquisili - Ecuador 83 kms 83 kms straight distance | 1hr 55mins 1hr 55mins by car (114 kms) | 2hrs 18mins 2hrs 18mins by bus (114 kms) (114 kms)
 G : Latacunga - Ecuador 90 kms 90 kms straight distance | 1hr 49mins 1hr 49mins by car (117 kms) | 2hrs 10mins 2hrs 10mins by bus (117 kms) (117 kms)
 H : Mindo - Ecuador 46 kms 46 kms straight distance | 2hrs 25mins 2hrs 25mins by car (125 kms) | 2hrs 54mins 2hrs 54mins by bus (125 kms) (125 kms)
 I : Pujili - Ecuador 96 kms 96 kms straight distance | 1hr 49mins 1hr 49mins by car (125 kms) | 2hrs 10mins 2hrs 10mins by bus (125 kms) (125 kms)
 J : Quito to Tulcan - Ecuador 61 kms 61 kms straight distance | 2hrs 19mins 2hrs 19mins by car (127 kms) | 2hrs 46mins 2hrs 46mins by bus (127 kms) (127 kms)
 K : Ambato - Ecuador 126 kms 126 kms straight distance | 2hrs 36mins 2hrs 36mins by car (164 kms) | 3hrs 7mins 3hrs 7mins by bus (164 kms) (164 kms)
 L : Tena - Ecuador 111 kms 111 kms straight distance | 2hrs 56mins 2hrs 56mins by car (169 kms) | 3hrs 31mins 3hrs 31mins by bus (169 kms) (169 kms)
 M : Quilotoa Lagoon - Ecuador 100 kms 100 kms straight distance | 3hrs 1min 3hrs 1min by car (189 kms) | 3hrs 37mins 3hrs 37mins by bus (189 kms) (189 kms)
 N : Tulcan - Ecuador 128 kms 128 kms straight distance | 4hrs 39mins 4hrs 39mins by car (259 kms) | 5hrs 34mins 5hrs 34mins by bus (259 kms) (259 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Quito, Ecuador:

Hostal Primavera, Quito, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Primavera, Quito, Ecuador (October 2018 - 2 nights) - Located at Bicentenario Park in north Quito. Hostal Primavera cost $18 for a great room for 2 people with private bathroom and wifi on the top floor with an awesome view out to the road and hills. There are plenty of eating options along the road outside especially in the mornings around 10am when the students eat on the street. The hostal is not too far from the airport, about halfway between the airport and the city center. Recommended.
Hostal History, Quito, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal History, Quito, Ecuador (October 2018 - 2 nights) - A great hostel in central Quito just 5 minutes walk from the main Plaza Independencia. $18 for a room for 2 on the 2nd floor with private bathroom, cable tv, wifi and views of the historic center. Kitchen available, friendly and helpful staff, kept tidy and clean, great atmosphere. Recommended.
Hostal Escocie, Quito, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Escocie, Quito, Ecuador (October 2018 - 1 hour) - Was brought here by a taxi driver who thought it would be a good place to stay or maybe he was getting a cut. Checked in, then was taken to another building where the room was. Shared bathroom but no towels or soap. After an hour I decided I didn't want to be here and checked out. I paid $20 for 2 people and received $15 back. Why stay in a place like this when you can get a room in Quito with a private bathroom for less money, don't bother!
Hostal Las Orquideas, Quito, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Las Orquideas, Quito, Ecuador (July 2015 - 3 nights) - Located 8mins walk from Bus Terminal Quitumbe in south Quito, you can see it up on the left from the terminal entrance, the tall red building. $18USD per night and comfortable too. I had a room on the top floor with private bathroom with very hot water, tv and wifi. Handy location if you want to head south of Quito early in the morning or if you arrive at the terminal late at night. I stayed here for 1 night at the beginning of my travels and for 2 more at the end. 45mins by taxi to the airport or 90mins by bus. Recommended.
Hostal Marsella, Quito, Ecuador - Large Photo
Hostal Marsella, Quito, Ecuador (July 2011 - 2 nights, July 2012 - 1 night) - Cheap rooms and a great rooftop balcony with hammocks with views over the city. It is located close to the historical part of Quito. It's safe and secure and has a restaurant and free wifi internet. I liked it here enough to return for a night a year later. Recommended.

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