Quito City Tour
Discover the Historic Splendors of South America's Best-Preserved Colonial Capital
This overview of Ecuador’s vibrant capital covers two sectors: the modern city and its splendidly preserved historic core. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, Quito's Old Town offers the most intact example of Spanish colonial architecture in Latin America, with 40 churches and chapels, 16 convents and monasteries, and numerous plazas. The tour begins with a drive through an elegant residential area, then continues to the Centro Historico, where Quito was founded in 1534 by Spanish conquistadors atop the ruins of the Inca city previously on the site. Famous landmarks include Independence Plaza, the monastery of San Francisco, and the dazzling 17th-century Compañia Church, a jewel of Baroque architecture covered in gold leaf. We also visit Panecillo Hill, where the famous statue of the Virgin Maria of Quito surveys the city from on high. Here at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, we have a panoramic view over Quito and Pichincha Volcano, which rises 15,700 feet on the city’s western flank. At the end of our tour we'll enjoy a late lunch at La Choza, a restaurant in the modern city that features gourmet traditional Ecuadorian food.
- Explore Quito's magnificent colonial quarter, with impressive examples of 16th-century baroque architecture fusing Spanish, Italian, Moorish and Flemish influences.
- Visit La Compañía, perhaps the most elaborate church in South America, and marvel at its gleaming altar, gilded in gold leaf.
- Survey the city and the volcanic mountains that ring it from El Panecillo, a 9,895-foot hill topped with a statue of the Virgin Maria de Quito.