Top 10 Things to Do in Quito, Ecuador
Traveling to Quito and not sure what to visit? Here are the 10 "must-see" spots in Quito to make your experience complete.
The TOP 10 ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS IN QUITO ECUADOR
Quito is the capital of Ecuador, sitting proudly at 9,300 feet high in the clouds. It was a former colonial capital, and even before then, the second capital city of the Incan empire. With its rich cultural history and culture, the city possesses hundreds of things to do and explore. Very few Andean capitals can boast as much as Quito, especially in such a small territory. If you are planning on stopping by Quito, then you the best hotels, eat at the best restaurants and do the top things to do in Quito.
1. La Compañía de Jesús Colonial Church
To jump-start the list of things to do in Quito, you have to visit this amazing church. It epitomizes the pinnacle of Latin American Baroque architecture. Additionally, the Iglesia was built between 1605 and 1765, and design took references from two emblematic Jesuit temples in Rome: Il Gesú and San Ignacio. What more, the construction took 160 years!—with the final results well-worth the century-in-the-making wait. The Jesuit temple features a Latin Cross floor plan, central nave, north and south naves, transept, north and south transept, presbytery, sacristy, sacristy, and chapel.
Impressively, the central nave is covered by a vault 26 meters high, composed of brick, pumice stone and finely decorated with plasterwork, polychrome, and Mudejar-style gold leaf.
Countless artists from the Quiteña School built this church, most of whom remain anonymous. They immortalized their ability and dedication to carving and gilding, skillfully plating every centimeter of the church with fine, 23-carat gold.
Two important religious events are linked to the La Compañía: one was the daily visit of Mariana de Jesús in prayer, the first Ecuadorian saint who consecrated herself in this temple and chose it as her final resting place. Mariana died in 1645 (17th century) and it is in the high altar where her remains are now venerated. The second occurrence is the miracle of the Image of the Sorrowful Virgin, a deeply-believed miracle that happened in the dining room of the old San Gabriel School, inside the Jesuit building, on April 20, 1906.
2. La Capilla del Hombre – Chapel of Man
“La Capilla del Hombre” is a work of architecture in recognition of a timeless Latin American man worthy of the things to do in Quito list. It was built as a tribute to the great Ecuadorian artist, Guayasamín, and is currently a cultural complex that shows different archaeological and artistic collections of Ecuador.
This great complex began with the Casa Taller Guayasamín, the painter’s home and place of work. It consists of a segment exhibiting archaeological pieces, and colonial and contemporary art that the artist collected throughout his life. The rest of the sections allow the public the explore spaces in which Master Guayasamín lived and worked.
The courtyard of the Casa Taller features the Tree of Life, which is also the crypt of the Master Guayasamín. His remains are protected under the shade of the tree he planted a long time ago.
The Chapel of Man is located on the hill Guangüiltagua, bordering one of the entrances to the Metropolitan Park.
Find it here: https://goo.gl/maps/VW3GkhN4VzJDZJVAA
3. Quito’s Historic Center – Things to do in Quito Ecuador
With almost 800 square acres, and some 130 monumental buildings dating back to the era of the Spanish Conquest through the republican era and the early twentieth century, this is perhaps the best-preserved historic center in all Latin America.
Thousands of pieces of colonial art are found in these historic spaces. Find numerous paintings and sculptures that were the product of what was called The Quito School, or Escuela Quiteña—a set of styles and artistic schools formed by both indigenous and mestizos of La Colonia.
The magnificent result of this School, unique in the world, was born from the syncretism between the Inca cultures and the ancestral ones, together with the dominant Spanish culture. Due to this magnificently preserved history and artwork, the city of Quito has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
The large part of buildings in Quito’s center were scenes of diverse events that changed the course of the nation’s history. This includes not only the time of the European conquest but even dating back further. The Incan empire built astronomical and sacred sites, in which Spanish constructed their buildings. This was even the site that some authors call the “Inca Quito”, the second capital of the Tawantinsuyo empire.
4. The Basilica – Things to do in Quito
This impressive church is one of the most important works of Neo-Gothic architecture in the world. It is located in the center of the city, in the streets Carchi and Venezuela, next to the Convent of the Oblate Fathers.
La Basilica was built to commemorate the consecration of the Ecuadorian State to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during the presidency of Gabriel García Moreno in 1873.
It is 115 meters high and made of 24 internal chapels that represent the country’s distinct provinces. This sanctuary was inaugurated and blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ecuador on January 18, 1985.
The structure and style of the Church are compared with two of the great cathedrals of the world: the Basilica of St. Patrick, located in New York, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame, in Paris. The most distinguishing detail is the substitution of the classic gargoyles by reptiles and amphibians typical of Ecuador.
Mon-Fri 7:00-9:00/ 18:00-19:00
Sat and Sun 6:00-18:30
Viewpoint open daily from 9:30-17:30
Foreigners: $2.00, nationals $1.00, children and seniors $0.50 Religious services:
Masses: Mon to Fri 07:00, 08:00 and 18:30; Sat 07:00 and 10:00; Sun 07:00 and 12:00
5. Guayasamín Museum
This house was built between 1976 and 1979. It was the residence of Ecuadorian artist, Master Oswaldo Guayasamín, until his death.
The architect who built it was Gustavo Guayasamín, Oswaldo’s brother, based on sketches made by the painter. Various modifications were made during the building process until the construction spanned over 2,000 square meters. Throughout the 20 years that he lived there, Guayasumín never stopped adding new spaces: a swimming pool, guest rooms, adjustments in the patios, etc.
The functional approach of this house is rationalist, through the articulation of well-defined geometric blocks. The symbolism of the white walls with semicircular arches on a stone wall, configuring the courtyard of the bells, reflects the painter’s constant preoccupation with the Latin American identity that fuses Hispanic and Andean, the core of the Ecuadorian nationality.
Address: E18-94 and Barrio, Mariano Calvache, Quito 170122
Hours: 10am – 5pm
6. House of the Alabado
The Casa del Alabado is a Pre-Columbian Art Museum. It opened its doors to the public in 2010. You’ll find it located in the historic center of Quito, half a block from the Plaza San Francisco. This House has become an obligatory stop for all those who pass through this emblematic sector of the city. There are 5,000 archaeological pieces within the 17th-century house are, along with 500 on permanent display
Address: Cuenca N1-41, Quito
Phone: (02) 228-0940
7. Intiñan Museum – Things to do in Quito
The Intiñan Museum has a fascinating interactive tour, where you can explore everything from the history of the ancestral villages to the magnificent effects produced by the sun in our solar cylinder. The museum showcases exhibits from various places on the equator, along with equator-related science experiments. Travel to the past through the century-old huts, and discover and the physical phenomena of the earth.
Address: Manuel Cordova Galarza, Quito
(593 2) 239 5122 / 730 9508
Monday to Sunday 9:30 to 5:00
8. Church of San Francisco
The Church of San Francisco is the most extraordinary work of Quito, definitely worth the things to do in Quito list. It is located in the historic center, at 477 Cuenca Street and Sucre. With the plaza and its stunning structural accompaniment, the area turns it into an imposing architectural work.
According to some theories, San Francisco was built on top of the Palace of Huayna Capac, the eleventh and penultimate ruler of the Incan Empire. In fact, according to ancient chronicles, verbal traditions, and testimonies of the Spanish conquerors themselves, most of what is now the Colonial Historic Center of Quito stands on top of Incan temples. If these sites interest you, be sure to also check out the sector of Panecillo, or Yavirac. Here previously stood the famous “Temple of the Sun,” decorated with gold and silver that Huayna Capac had brought from Cuzco.
For more information on the Church and Convent of San Francisco:
Telephone: (+593 2) 295 9911
9. Quito’s “Teleferico” Cable Car
If you travel on a clear day to the top of the Pichincha Volcano in Quito’s stunning cable car, prepare your camera. You will be able to observe at least four snowy peaks, and 14 distinct volcanoes. This superior viewpoint opens to the whole city and its surrounding valleys.
The cable car ride lasts 10 minutes. It begins at 2,950 meters above sea level and reaches 4,053m (in a 2.5-kilometer double track).
10. Independence Square – Things to do in Quito
Known as “Plaza de la Independencia” (Independence Square), the Plaza Grande is the center of the Historical Center. Here you can fully appreciate the everyday lives of many Quiteños. It was not the city’s first square but has been a meeting point since the 16th century. This is a scene of many Quiteño legends and chronicles. Surrounding the site is the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Municipal Palace. At the sides and under the Cathedral, you will find cafeterias, where you can taste pork sandwiches, unique fresh fruit juices, and dried goat prepared by women who have years of experience in their culinary trade.
Similar to other sites, there is a shop with handicrafts and workmanship. On the other hand, you will find a very traditional barbershop!
The Independence Monument adorns the middle of the square, inaugurated on August 10th, 1909. Here, you will spot a wounded lion (in reference to the Spanish troops); a condor breaking the chains of oppression (emblem of the country); and, at the top, the Roman goddess, Libertas, holding a torch.
Just a few steps from the square is the Pasaje Espejo, a pedestrian street in which the historic Teatro Bolívar and Plaza Chica are located. Additionally, there also typical and fusion restaurants.