In no other place can you find such a rich array of colonial as Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It has more than 40 churches and convents and 17 squares, not to mention a plethora of indigenous paintings, sculptures and carvings. And yet the city, named as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is not only rich because of its man-made wonders, it is also uniquely blessed by nature. Whereas the Equator crosses over jungles or oceans in all other places of the earth, it is only in Quito where the Equator crosses over highlands, giving it the distinction of being one of the best natural astronomical laboratories in the world.
Begin your exploration of Quito at the La Plaza de la Independencia. Check out the four buildings of the ruling powers of the colonial period: Government Palace in the west, Municipal Palace in the east, Archbishop's Palace in the north and the Cathedral in the south. Aside from the Cathedral, other churches worthy of a visit in Quito include El Sagrario, La Compania de Jesus Church and the San Francisco Church and Plaza. Among its numerous museums, the ones worth checking out include Museo del Banco Central with its gold works of art, the San Francisco Museum with its Franciscan collection and Museo de la Ciudad which captures the daily life of its citizens throughout the years. If you want to see Quito from 12,000 feet, take a ride in the Teleferico, the world's second highest cable car. Outside of Quito, the Mitad del Mundo City surrounds the monument that marked the Middle of the World. It houses the Solar Culture Museum and a Planetarium.
Quito is a gastronomic delight. Seafood and meat-based recipes as well as fruits are in abundance in the many restaurants around the area. La Mariscal is where you can find many restaurants, bars and pubs. Here, the eateries are concentrated around the Plaza El Quinde. If you fancy grilled beef or pork intestines for dinner, head to the La Floresta traffic circle from 6 pm onwards.
For Quito crafts—guitars, candles, ceramics, woodcarvings and leather—head to Plaza San Francisco, Plaza Grande and Museo Mindalae. There are also many shopping malls around Quito. These are: Quicentro, Mall el Jardin, Megamaxi, Ventura Mall, El Bosque and Ciudad Comercial el Recreo. Don't leave the city without purchasing one of those famed weaved sweaters, scarves or tapestries at the markets located in Jorge Washington and Juan Leon Mera located in La Mariscal.
Av. República de El Salvador N 34-349 E Irlanda, Ecuador