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Centro Histórico

The Centro Histórico (also known as the Old Town) is Quito's extensive colonial center that was built over the ashes of what was once a major part of the Inca empire.

One of the first areas to be named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1978, Old Town will send you across centuries of history as you stroll down its cobblestone streets and alleyways, filled by local residents and vendedores ambulantes (street vendors).

At the beginning of the 20th century, Quito fit within the boundaries of this entire neighborhood. Today however - following decades of expansion - it's only a small piece of the entire city but still undoubtedly the most iconic one. Filled with a rich past, it's here that some of Ecuador's most famous battles and executions took place in the plazas, only to be replaced now by the much more peaceful but lively bustle of residents, tourists, businessmen, street vendors, and protesters. Not to mention - all the noisy cars and buses that wind through its single-lane streets.

Once considered dangerous, Old Town has drastically changed over the past few years. Beggars and pushy merchants have dwindled in numbers, the façades of old buildings have been repainted, streets and the plazas are better illuminated at night now, and the Trole and Ecovia have managed to cut down on bus traffic and fumes. Most significant is the fact that the police force is a much stronger presence now, notably helping deter pickpockets and other criminals. It's still advised to be cautious and discreet though, as the streets tend to fill up quickly with locals during lunch-time and at the end of the day, and tourists are still a bit of an oddity in this area of Quito.

For some extra fun, veer off from the guided tour and spend some quality time in the plazas or side streets that feature exquisite colonial architecture and winding pathways that open up into lovely courtyards.

Other neighborhoods in Quito: La Floresta, Cumbayá, Pululahua Volcanic Crater, Guápulo, Calderón, Valley Of Chillos, San Marcos, Checa, Mitad del Mundo and Plaza Foch.

28 Feb 2013

Things to do in Centro Histórico

Calle La Ronda

116012Parting from Calle Benalcázar, the downhill walk along Calle La Ronda is a short journey through a very significant representation of colonial life in Quito. The term ronda refers to a small ...
Cultural Tour
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Mirador El Panecillo

101038El Panecillo—or to use the Inca name, Yavira—is a lush green hill visible from many different points in Quito. La Virgen del Panecillo, the winged virgin sitting atop the hill, is essentially ...
City Plaza
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

La Basílica del Voto Nacional

101115A relatively new addition to the Quito skyline, and now one of its most striking landmarks, is the Basilica del Voto Nacional, or simply \"the Basilica.\" Consecrated in 1988 (though still ...
Historical Building
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Plaza San Francisco

101027The cobbled Plaza de San Francisco is one of Quito’s oldest and most impressive sights, including, as it does, views of the magnificently white Monastery of San Francisco and, in the distance, the ...
City Plaza
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Museo Numismático del Banco Central

115982The Banco Central\'s Museo Numismático has just what you\'d expect a bank to showcase: coins. The impressive, extensive collection has monetary units from pre-Columbian eras, through the colonial ...
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Iglesia y Museo de Santo Domingo

101178The Iglesia de Santo Domingo may at first seem like one of those churches that is far more impressive from the outside. However, step into its dimly lit, moody interior and you’ll find some ...
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Parque Alameda

101127Between Old Town and New Town, the small triangular Parque Alameda is the closest open space to the Centro Histórico, and therefore one of the busiest in the city. The grassy banks of the boating ...
City Plaza
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Palacio del Gobierno

101119The building on the northwestern side of the plaza above the row of arched, hole-in-the-wall shops, is the Palacio del Gobierno (Presidential Palace), also called Carondelet. The palace is open to ...
Historical Building
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

El Palacio Arzobispal (The Archbishop's Palace)

101105Opposite the cathedral in the Plaza Grande, the former Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop’s Palace) now houses a row of shops, ranging from delicatessens to clothing stores. During the last few years, ...
Historical Building
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Plaza de la Independencia

101028As you wonder around the Centro Histórico, you’ll probably find yourself walking into the majestic Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande), at some point, even if you haven\'t been looking for ...
City Plaza
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador

Museo Camilo Egas

Camilo Egas (1889-1962), one of Ecuador\'s most important 20th century painters, was born in Quito\'s San Blas neighborhood and studied art at the national Fine Arts school in Rome and Paris. Upon ...
Centro Histórico, Quito, Ecuador
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