31st January 2011

Once a major Inca city, Quito [2] was occupied as early as 1500 BC by an organised civilisation, the Shyris, who had impressive knowledge of the course of the sun.  The original name was Quitsa – meaning the middle of the earth (as in the Equator), but nothing remains of the pre-Hispanic monuments. 


World Heritage Quito, Ecuador´s capital, lies in a green valley at the base of Pichincha Volcano.  A cable car climbs to the lookout Cruz Loma (4000 meters) for stunning views of the city and the surrounding volcanoes and hills.  The historical centre is a maze of narrow streets with a treasure of colonial buildings and churches. 


We spent a few days strolling aimlessly taking it all in using the family run Jumbo Lodging, a beautifully restored building, in the old city as a base.  The owner of Jumbo, Luis, was friendly and helpful and told us about the well hidden Vista Hermosa where we ascended in the antique elevator complete with a folding wrought iron gate and a uniformed operator to a spectacular view of Colonial Quito.  Another find was the Heladería San Agustín which, since 1858, has been serving delicious ice cream and the best ceviche (seafood marinated in lime juice and spices).  Every Monday is the ceremonial changing of the guards at the Presidential Palace where the President greets the public – quite a spectacle.


Looking down at Quito with Cotopaxi Volcano in the distance

Quito skyline with the Gothic Basilica

Cathedral on Plaza Grande

Outside Jumbo Lodging, a narrow street in the historic centre

Enclosed courtyard

Iglesia San Blas

Iglesia and Convento San Francisco

Courtyard inside San Francisco Convento

The best ceviche in South America at Heladería San Agustín

One of Quito´s hills

Monasterio de Carmen Alto

Green tiled domes

Bright Quito street

La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (Jesuit Church) of Quito - 1605-1765

The inside the Jesuit Church is covered in seven tons of gold leaf

Changing of the guard outside the Presidential Palace

Santo Domingo

Selling bras on the Monastery steps

Performance by school children