The City Tour allows people to have an overview of the most impressive and famous places in Quito. Of course each part of the City has its own history, its charm but the old Quito is clearly one of the most complete and diverse neighborhood in terms of architecture, monuments and cultural richness.
The tour starts by “La Basilica del Voto Nacional “, masterpiece of 100 meters high inspired by the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. As a proof of this similar work, gargoyles are found on outside walls. Different to the French style, these rock statues are faithful to the Ecuadorian fauna with Galapagos turtles, caimans, pumas, iguanas, monkeys or even crocodiles. You will have a choice between visiting the church, and admiring the incredible view offered on the upward hill in addition to the nice park downward the Basilica. If you choose the visit, you wouldn’t regret it because you would come in the biggest South-American church. The Neo-Gothic monument started to be built by the end of the nineteen century and is still unfinished. Inside, you would consider the 22 Ecuadorian provinces represented through 22 chapels on the 24. As soon as I entered there, I was surprised by this huge area in the middle of the Cathedral. Unlighted thanks to lots of well painted stained glasses; the edifice welcomes all of its tourists.
After this stop, you would take the bus for a few minutes till arriving to the Benalcazar square. At this small and red place is found an uncommon map. All of the most important surrounding areas are drawn on the ground. To continue, you will walk until the Independence square, one of my favorite places in Quito. We can describe it as the heart of the City. More than an area where buildings as the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Cathedral of Quito and the Municipal Palace are joined, this place is the most vibrant and lively one. You would be surrounded by talking and laughing tourists, students and retirees close to the Independence monument. I also enjoyed discovering small shops and shoe-shiners at the foot of the Presidential Palace, place which is out of access in the others countries. I got the impression that “La Plaza de Independencia” is an area where everyone can find his rightful place. For sure, you would find yours!
We can mention the San Francisco church among the Quito’s beauties, a monument which needed 150 years to be finished. Its construction dates from the 16th century, just a few weeks after the founding of the City. This oldest church has whitewashed walls and twin bell towers in agreement with the Colonian style of the neighborhood. In front of this memorable building, a sweeping cobblestones place welcomes pigeons, giving the feeling to walk around the San Marco Place in Venice. All around, you could buy some souvenirs in the small stalls. Inside your glance would be caught by this perfect mix of gold and wood, leaving a warm atmosphere. This church is also house of the Virgin of Quito.
Quito has its Virgin on the Panecillo hill, as London has its Big Ben and Paris its Eiffel Tower. This high hill, whose meaning refers to small bread, delimits the Northern part of the City to the Southern one. At 3000 meters high, the Virgin protects the City. Be charged $1 would allow you to visit it and to have an unbelievable 360º view. Quito is 50 kilometers long, so I let you imagine the amazing view you would have there.
After the Quito City Tour, you would drive to reach Mitad del Mundo. There, is located a massive bloc made of iron and concrete, overhung by an enormous sphere. This 30-meters-tall monument was settled there as the result of an old French scientific expedition, which goal was the imaginary line position determining. Obviously, you would enjoy taking pictures; having half of your body in the Northern hemisphere and the other half in the Southern one. At least, you would believe this at the beginning… Later you would learn that GPS coordinates don’t agree. Of course by that time, they didn’t have as much advanced equipments as we have now. The real middle of the world is located not that far. You could experience it in the Intiñan Solar Museum just a few meters away. A guide will show you amazing experiments proving how items in different parts of the world react. There I felt as fell in an Indiana Jones adventure. I tried balancing an egg on a nail, walking straight on the Ecuadorian line … not easy exercises when the gravity plays with your sense of balance! By this beautiful day, the outside museum also allowed me discovering magnificent fauna and flora. For sure, it was the best moment that I had during the trip.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me!
PS: My name is Audrey and I am in Ecuador to do my internship at Gray Line Ecuador. I wanted to share with you my tours experience, so if you want to write me feel free to do it =)