The capital of Ecuador is situated high in the Andes mountain range and has some splendid Spanish colonial architecture.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 2:
“Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city and stands at an altitude of 2,850 m. Despite the 1917 earthquake, the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía, with their rich interiors, are pure examples of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.”
I visited Quito on a long South American journey in 1987. I had planned to stay only a few nights but ended up with a few weeks. The following takes place the morning after we arrived in the middle of the night (excerpt from a letter home):
“When we woke up and went out we found to our surprise that the hotel was right in the city centre. It is a very beautiful city, with old colonial architecture and impressive buildings. There is a great atmosphere around us, nice parks, small shops and high mountains hovering around us on all sides. Quito itself is 2800 metres above sea level. We are going to stay here a while.”
A memory I have from attending a Spanish language school for a few weeks was that every lunch break the students at the central university would come out of the auditoriums and demonstrate. The police would arrive in armoured vehicles and spray tear gas on the protesting students. At the end of the lunch break they all went back in again for their normal duties.