Visit downtown Quito to relish in this urban jewel and its treasures of art and architecture. Quito’s colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved of South America, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Your stroll starts at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace.
You also visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús and its awesome gilded interior before continuing on to the Monastery of San Francisco, one of the great religious buildings of the New World. It has an impressive façade and atrium that lead to its Baroque interior influenced by Moorish style, with the winged Virgin of Quito at its main altar.
Lunch is taken at one of the excellent restaurants in Quito or the Equator area before continuing to the Equatorial Monument, 16 miles north of Quito, which marks the Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot in each hemisphere. There is the chance to visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which shows the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Beside the monument there is a colonial-style town, complete with main square, church, post office, bullring, cafeterias, restaurants and many gift shops with postcards and souvenirs. You will get a certificate for having crossed the Equator!
Please note that this is a walking tour at an altitude of 2,800 metres (9,200 feet) and involves some climbing of stairs.