Quito Attractions & Highlights
While many of the sights listed below are part of the Old Quarter, this historic neighborhood - which dates back several centuries - is an attraction in and of itself. It was the first city in the world to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, who maintain that Quito boasts the best preserved and most extensive historic center in the Americas. If there is one place which seals the deal regarding Spanish courses then this is most definitely it. Here you'll find a delightful mix of colonial-era buildings, cobblestone streets, airy squares, magnificent Baroque façades, grand churches and much more.
Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús
Quite possibly the most beautiful church of the Americas, the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús is a Baroque masterpiece of intricate decorations, a breathtaking carved façade and an intriguing fusion of details and symbols from both Christian and indigenous cultures.
Iglesia de San Francisco
This beautiful 16th century Baroque church is definitely worth a visit, with its spectacular paintings and sculptures and mix of Christian and indigenous decoration. The adjacent museum, located in what was once the church's accompanying monastery, has access to the choir and an interesting collection of religious art and artifacts.
Museo del Banco
This museum, dedicated primarily to pre-Colombian, colonial and independence-era artwork, is Ecuador's most renowned museum is a must-see during any visit to Quito.
La Mitad del Mundo
Based on calculations of the equator's exact location by a French explorer and scientist, this massive monument was built in the 18th century to straddle the equator. Modern technology has shown that the equator's actual location is a couple hundred feet away, but the monument is impressive nonetheless.
Plaza de la Independencia
The Plaza de la Independencia, also commonly referred to as the Plaza Grande, has been the main square and social hub of Quito since the 16th century. Bordering the plaza are a handful of emblematic buildings: the Cathedral, the City Hall, the Government Palace and the Archbishop's Palace. The square is particularly impressive come nightfall as the buildings are illuminated.
Museo de la Ciudad
The two floors of this lovely museum are dedicated to the social history of Ecuador and feature re-enacted scenes of day-to-day living from througout the trajectory of Ecuador's history, ranging from home life to war time and everything in between.
Quito's cable car, the Teleferiqo (with a q for Quito), climbs up the slope of Pichincha Volcano to heights of 4,000 meters (12,000 feet) and is the second highest cable car in the world. Take a ride on a clear day and enjoy unbeatable vistas of the city spread out below as well as a half-dozen volcanoes in the distance.
Pay a visit to this interesting museum to view the works both created by and collected by Oswaldo Guayasamin, Ecuador's most famous contemporary artist. While in Quito you can also check out one of his impressive murals at the Government Palace in the Plaza de la Independencia.
Make your way to the Mariscal district, located north of the Old Quarter, and lose yourself in this unique cultural spot. The Mindalae Museum delves into the rich cultural diversity of the many peoples of Ecuador through taking an ethno-historical approach. Learn all about the diverse cultures, both past and present, that have lived in Ecuador's Amazon, Andes and coastal regions.