AM: On this one-day tour, we will visit the historic district of the Ecuadorian capital, enjoying this urban jewel and its artistic and architectural treasures. One of the largest and best preserved colonial centers in South America, Quito’s “Old Town” area was declared the first “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO, in 1978.
The visit to the historic center begins with the Basilica del Voto Nacional, one of the largest churches in Ecuador and one of the most important works of Ecuadorian neo-gothic architecture. While the outside of the building stands out for its stone carvings that represent plants and animals of the country, the inside consists of 24 chapels. Beneath the structure are crypts in which lie the remains of several former presidents of the Republic, and on top of the 100-meter-tall church is a beautiful gazebo that also serves as a small cafe.
We will continue on to the always vibrant Plaza Grande (“Independence Square”), which is surrounded by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. We will then visit the church of the “Compañia de Jesus” to find its impressive interior inlaid in gold.
Your tour of historic Quito will end with a birds-eye view of the city from the panoramic “Virgin of Quito” monument atop El Panecillo Hill, which overlooks the capital. This will give you a chance to appreciate Quito from above, and – if the weather permits – to catch a view of the spectacular “Volcano Avenue,” two parallel mountain ranges containing eight of the country’s ten highest peaks.
From here, we will continue our journey 15 miles north of Quito to the Mitad del Mundo (“Middle of the World”), the monument on the equator that was built to commemorate the French scientists who in the 1830s made history by determining the shape of the planet thanks to their studies at this location.
Next to the monument is “Middle of the World City,” a village built in a colonial style – with a main square, a church, a post office, a bullring, restaurants and several souvenir and crafts shops.
The highlight of this visit is the equatorial line running along the latitude of 0° 0’ 0.” Here, you will be able to stand with one foot in each of the earth’s hemispheres – a great photo op!
We will also visit the Intiñan Solar Museum, where you will have the opportunity to perform various unusual experiments like balancing an egg on a nail, losing weight in a second, or straddling the equatorial line that separates the two hemispheres.
After the visit, we will drive you back to your hotel.
Lunch will be at one of the excellent restaurants in either Quito’s historic district or near the “Mitad del Mundo” equatorial complex. For logistical reasons, on Sundays we will visit the Mitad del Mundo complex in the morning and Quito’s historic district in the afternoon.