Friday, December 5, 2008


Quito is Ecuador's capital, the country's second largest city and the capital of the province of Pichincha. Nestled in a long narrow valley, Quito is one of South America's most attractive destinations.

Flanked by the Andes mountain range sandwiched by the western slopes of the Volcano Guagua Pichincha standing at a colossal 4,790 m with canyons on the eastern side the city sits inside a lengthy narrow basin valley forming a setting unparalleled by most cities in South America. It is also the highest capital after La Paz in Bolivia in this continent and combined with its rich architecture of bygone colonial days the scenery and overall effect is simply breathtaking.

On clear days you may also view other snowcapped volcanoes such as Cotopaxi in the far distance adding to this truly unforgettable, impressionable ambiance of a large Ecuadorian city which combines both old and new, more modern sectors of the north which includes the international and national airport as well as the main embassies, businesses, banking services, restaurants, shopping centers, hotels, parks and tourist agencies.

The southern area (view the section on Old Quito) in contrast houses various museums, churches, galleries, cathedrals, colonial buildings, balcony furbished homes and outdoor markets within narrow cobbled streets which helps balance the formulae. For many travelers of a well rounded 4 to 5 day excursion to Quito of the old and new life styles which was sanctioned through the auspices of UNESCO in 1978 who confirmed this latter area of colonial Quito to be a World cultural heritage site.

The Años viejos (stuffed dummy's) which stand upright are typical around December periods and burned on the last day before new year for good luck, a custom displayed throughout the whole country. See our Holidays and Festivals section. They stand on most street corners but are more prevalent on the Av. Amazonas route especially around Hilton Colón Hotel district.

Good Friday is also a festival in the colonial part of Quito and although colorful, it is a solemn affair. The major festival occurs during the first week of December and is named "Fiestas de Quito" and has many dancing parades, street music and bull fights ending around the 6th of December. Another festival of note occurs in August "Mes de las Artes", with music, dancing and different cultural events dotted throughout the city.

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