|Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2015-02-08 18:11:01 | Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador|
|Quito has been an important city for the Inca empire before the arrival of the Spaniards. In 1534, the Spaniards took control of the deserted and mostly destroyed Inca city. They built a new city there, the current Quito. What's remarkable about Quito is that it's by far the most preserved colonial city in the Americas. For many square kilometres, the city just like it was centuries ago if you omit the modern transportation facilities.|
surrounded by very tall mountains and is located at a very high
altitude (2 850 m, or 9 400 feet), the land on which Quito is built
is very hilly. Walking in the city is a real pleasure... but
climbing the hills at this altitude can be hard on the heart,
especially if you're not well accustomed to it. Technically, Quito
is the world highest official national capital of the world. La Paz
is much higher, but it's not the official capital of Bolivia (Sucre
is), although it is the administrative capital.
The architecture of
Quito is simply astonishing and everywhere you look, you see marvels.
If you omit the cars, you are really transported back in time,
especially since many local natives walk the city in traditional
costume offering you food and souvenirs. Because of its large size,
Quito is not just a huge souvenir shop... but it's an extremely well
preserved time capsule of architecture and culture.
Santo Domingo church
earthquakes that shook that city through the centuries, all major
buildings remained mostly intact and they were repaired according to
the original plans, with suitable material. A great effort has been
done in the last 20 years or so, following the 1987 major
earthquakes. The old city has been somewhat modernized in terms of
infrastructure, but while keeping the buildings as authentic as
possible. An extreme care has been put in the restoration and the
results are simply stunning, impossible to see the difference.
Contrary to other Colonial cities, Quito rebuilds and repairs based
on original plans with almost similar materials, and no new
architecture buildings are allowed in the Old City.
The only thing not
original is often times the lighting structure. Yes, of course they
have modern lampposts and that's normal... my reticence is with the
use of LED lighting in some streets. Yes, the amount of light
generated is surely greater and the cost is significantly lower than
using bulb lights... but that removes a bit of the charm of some
streets (including the one where my hotel was).
You will encounter
massive churches and small houses. The streets are mostly in bricks
or flat cobblestones, so they're comfy and safe to walk on. Most
houses have little iron balconies with flower pots everywhere. There
are many tourist-oriented spots... but don't hesitate to go beyond
them... the rest is just as lovely and it's not just a cute postcard
front. The most touristic street in Old Quito is "La Ronda", which you can see on the lead photo.
I spent two weeks in
Quito and I enjoyed my time very much in this open-air museum.
Because of the altitude and surrounding mountains, the sky is often
cloudy (especially in afternoon), but I rarely got rain and even
under a covered sky, the city is sometimes breathtaking.
Quito was the first
city in the Americas to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List,
in 1978 (Kracow was also added that year, for the two only cities on
that first year). So, along with the Galapagos, Ecuador had two of
the first 12 inscriptions on the List. When you actually walk the
old City, you have absolutely NO doubt it is fully deserved.
Street view of historical district
Panama Viejo and Casco Viejo
Cathedral of León
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