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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Ecuador > Quito

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Local time Quito

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Things to see in Quito

Tourist Offices

Quito Turimso

Address: , Avenida Amazonas N79-39 y Avenida de la Prensa, Quito, EC 170512
Telephone: +593 2299 3300.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0830-1700.

Website: http://www.quito.com.ec

There are several tourist information offices dotted around the city, as well as in the bus station and airport. Quito Turismo operates most of them, while you can also try the national tourist board, Ecuador Travel (tel: +593 3999 333; www.ecuador.travel).

Attractions

Capilla del Hombre

Tickets to the Guayasamín Museum also provide access to the magnificent Capilla del Hombre, an ambitious 'chapel of humanity'. Built as a stone monolith with vague connotations of a pre-Hispanic temple, everything here was designed and created by Ecuador's most famous artist, both inside and out. The grand interior is adorned with murals and smaller paintings, as well as sculptures and installations, which all tell the story of civilization. The tale is tinged by Guayasamín's passion for social justice and the central mural, showing spirits ascending to the heavens, was unfinished upon his death. Be sure to take one of the free guided tours (in English and Spanish), which illuminate the fascinating life and ideology of the artist.

Address: , Mariano Calvache E18-94 y Lorenzo Chávez, Quito,
Telephone: +593 2244 8492.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.capilladelhombre.com
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Mitad del Mundo

Quito lies in close proximity to the equator and to celebrate this fact there is a monument standing on the line just outside the city. Known as the 'middle of the world', the giant Mitad del Mundo was actually built in the wrong place, but is still an entertaining spot which houses astronomy and science exhibitions. Visitors will also find the quirky Intiñan Solar Museum, which is dedicated to ancient beliefs and astronomical knowledge of indigenous people and lies on the actual equator. Most tourists here try to balance an egg test on a nail as gravitational pulls are different on the equator. There is also a chance to prove (or disprove) the fable that water drains clockwise and anticlockwise on either side of the equator.

Address: , Autopista Cordova Galarza, Quito,
Telephone: +593 2239 4803.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1800.

Website: http://www.mitaddelmundo.com
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Guayasamín Museum

As its name suggests, Bellavista is a district where a beautiful view opens out on the Guápolo valley below. Not surprisingly, rich and famous people tended to build their homes here but the one worth visiting is the villa of Ecuador's most prominent contemporary painter Oswaldo Guayasamín, which was turned into Museo Guayasamín after his death in 1999. From here Guayasamín cultivated an eclectic range of friends from Fidel Castro to the Rockefellers, while creating an almost unparalleled collection of vibrant modern art. Apart from his paintings, there are Incan artefacts and colonial works from his private collection on display.

Address: Bellavista, Mariano Calvache 18-94 with Lorenzo Chávez, Quito,
Telephone: +593 2446 455.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.guayasamin.org
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Plaza Grande

Formerly known as La Plaza de la Independencia, the city's main square is dominated by the cathedral, built in 1562. The cathedral's most attractive part, however, is the 17th-century El Sagrario chapel. On the western side, and elevated above the square, stands the Palacio de Gobierno that has seen quite a few coups and political assassinations in its history as the seat of the national government. The Archbishop's Palace, opposite the cathedral, has been converted into a tourist centre with galleries, shops and a pleasant café.

Address: Old town, La Plaza Grande, Quito,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 24 hours.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes

La Compañía de Jesús

Although it was built by the Jesuits in the 17th century, this church's most striking feature is the intricately carved 18th-century facade. It still remains a powerful symbol of Jesuit power in Latin America. A vast amount of gold was used to lavish decoration on its breathtaking interior, which also features numerous beautiful statues and a gleaming golden high altar. There are another 10 impressive side altars to bask in, as well as a sculpture of Quiteña saint Mariana de Jesús to admire.

Address: Old town, Benalcazar 562 with Sucre, Quito, 170130
Telephone: (02) 258 1895.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1600; Sun 1330-1630.

Website: http://www.fundacioniglesiadelacompania.org.ec
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

Basilica del Voto Nacional

Rising above central Quito, this neo-Gothic tower is a rather peculiar sight, with its gargoyles depicting Amazonian animals and the out-of-place 1960s-styled clock. Building began in 1883 and the construction continued through most of the 20th century. Climb to the top of the tower for a splendid view of the city, though ambling amongst its lofty ornate spires is a wondrous sight in itself.

Address: Historical centre, Plaza de la Basilica, Carchi 122 with Venezuela, Quito, 170130
Telephone: +593 2228 9428.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1800.

Website: http://www.arquidiocesisdequito.com.ec
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

Museo del Banco Central

If you have time for just one museum in Quito, head straight to Museo del Banco Central, which displays art from all periods of the country's history: pre-Columbian, colonial and republican. Its most impressive part is Sala de Oro with its rich collection of pre-Hispanic golden objects. The second floor features colonial works including paintings and a few sculptures, while the upper floor has offerings from Ecuador's contemporary repertoire.

Address: Mariscal, Avenida Patria with 6 de Diciembre, Quito, 170143
Telephone: +593 2222 3259.
Opening times:

Tues-Fri 0900-1700, Sat-Sun 1000-1600.

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Cathedral of Quito

Painted brilliant white, the cathedral of Quito is surprisingly minimalistic on the outside and rather overshadowed by the neo-Gothic basilica nearby. On the inside, however, it's suitably grand, with plenty of impressive artworks from the Quito School which include such novel cultural fusions as an image of the Three Kings atop llamas in a depiction of the Nativity. Sculptures from the 18th-century, like The Holy Shroud by Manuel Chili Caspicara, are amongst the artistic highlights. The remains of the great liberator Antonio José de Sucre are also buried here in a tomb carved out of volcanic rock.

Address: Old town, Plaza de la Independencia, Quito, 170130
Telephone: +593 2257 0371.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 0930-1600, Sun 1000-1400.

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

San Francisco Church

The largest church in the historical district, San Francisco Church is believed to be the first religious building in South America. The construction began in 1536, soon after the city was founded by the Spanish. The monastery houses a museum showcasing many canvases of the Quito School of religious art, including paintings by Quito School's main star, Miguel de Santiago.

Address: Old town, Plaza San Francisco, Cuenca 477 and Sucre, Quito,
Telephone: +593 2211 124.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 0900-1730, Sun 0900-1300.

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

El Panecillo

The giant statue of the Virgin of Quito on top of the Panecillo hill is a local icon. Although visible from almost everywhere around the city, when viewed up close the aluminium colossus is rather bizarre, not least for the set of wings – rarely seen in depictions of the Virgin. Built in 1976, the statue is inspired by a similar 18th-century sculpture by Ecuadorian artist Bernardo de Legarda, which can be found in the Church of San Francisco. Naturally, at more than 3,000 metres high, El Panecillo is one of the best vantage points in Quito too. It's best to take a taxi to the top: apart from being tiring, the climb is said to be fraught with robbers.

Address: Old town, El Panecillo, ,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 24 hours.

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No