07 Mar Quito Old Town – A Guide to the Unesco Heritage Listed Old Town in Ecuador
Experience outstanding Colonial churches, museums and monuments in the Old Town in Quito also known as Centro Historico. After numerous of earthquakes through the Quito’s old town is the best preserved historic centre in Latin America. Quito’s old town is also one of the most important historic areas in Latin America.
Most of the places are within a walking distance. Entry for the churches in Old Town may vary from $0 to $5. It is recommended to see old town during the day as it is not safe to walk around there at night.
La Basílica del Voto Nacional
The Basilica is a Roman Catholic church and is the largest Geo-gothic basilica in the world. You can start your walking route in Quito’s old town with La Basílica del Voto Nacional. You can climb to the top and enjoy the beautiful Basílica and the view of the rest of the old town. If you walk south on Garcia Moreno you will also see El Panecillo at the end of the street and when you meet the street Chile you are at the Presidential palace.
Carondelet Palace (the Presidential Palace)
A short 10-minute walking distance from Basílica you can see Carondelet Palace (the Presidential Palace) and if you go there on a Monday morning 11 am you can see the change of guards. The palace of the government is believed to be over 300 years. It is also open to visitors. The palace is placed in Plaza de la Independencia where you always will be surrounded with people.
Iglesia la Compañia de Jesus
Close to the Presidental Palace is the most magnificent church you will see in Quito; Iglesia la Compañia de Jesus. This Jesuit church has a very interesting history and is made out of volcanic stone. They began the construction of this church in 1605 and it took around 160 years to build it.This church is one of the most significant works of Spanish Baroque architecture in South America. Sadly it is not allowed to take photos inside this beautiful church.
Related: Top 6 things to do in Quito
Iglesia de San Francisco
This beautiful church was built from 1536 and didn’t finish before 1605. The church has a Renaissance style and Greco-Roman neoclassicism. There are also some small painted canvas and windows inside. It is placed Plaza de San Francisco where you will get a be along with locals and tourists as well as street vendors.
Panecillo got its name because it is the hill it is on has a resemblance of a small bread. Panecillo represents the division of South and North of the city. The original name before the Spanish Colonial time was Yavirac and it was built to worship the sun. El Panecillo is a statue of Virgen stepping on a snake and has angel wings. You will see Panecillo from Old Town if you look south from La Compañia or the presidential palace. It is walkable, but you can also get there by taxi.
If you have plenty of time before it gets dark I recommend exploring the small streets along old town and you will see colourful buildings, street vendors and locals.
Calle De La Ronda
The same day you can visit the picturesque area in Old Town called La Ronda. It is said to be one of the oldest streets in Quito and it will give you a feeling of Quito during the 18th century. Beginning of 20th Century it was a home of poets, painters, politicians and musicians. La Ronda is safe and has many cute cafes and restaurants. If you go there at night, you might see a traditional show.
Related: Top Tips for Travelling in Quito
Cafe Mosaico might be the cafe in Quito with the best view. It is a great place to end the day and get a view of what you have seen in Old Town including El Panecillo. Cafe Mosaico is pet-friendly, so if you are travelling with a pet you can bring it.
If you decide to check out La Ronda and Cafe Mosaico at night it is recommended to get a taxi to those places exactly, it is not safe to walk around of the rest of Old Town at night.
Here is a walking map I used with the order listed above. Feel free to print it, share it and use it 🙂
Have you been to Quito’s old town or are you planning to go?