Stay in 1 of the 10 best boutique hotels and visit Quito from here
Quito: Paradise in the Andes
What is it about Quito that makes fall in love with so many visitors? Maybe the incredible mountain views, from any part of the city? Maybe the “eternal spring” climate, or the blue sky, or the mixture of indigenous people, Quiteños and tourists?
Quito is the best-preserved Historic Centre in the Americas and the first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The colourful houses, the many churches and noble properties, the cobblestone streets, parks and many squares give this city a unique look and feel.
Stroll through the streets and observe the painters, small entrepreneurs, street vendors and the colourful clothing of the locals. The migration of Venezuelans and the economic distress results in that you now find a new coffee shop, gallery or chocolate shop on every corner.
Discover the history, culture, and tradition as a beautiful mix while staying in one of the 10 best boutique hotels.
The many historical sites at such a small walking distance make the historic centre of the city a veritable treasure. Stroll through the streets and wander from one era to another while you observe the different architectural styles and many ornaments. Choose between the many museums and churches the ones you fancy most.
#1: Old Town Quito Suites, one of the 10 best Boutique Hotels
As a 200 years old mansion in Quito, this renovated boutique hotel in Quito offers a fascinating bit of insight into the capital’s history:
ECUADOR’S OLDEST PRINTING HOUSE TURNED LUXURY APARTMENTS.
Now a boutique hotel, its epic history, soaring ceilings, wide spaces, courtyards, vintage elements and artwork offer guests a unique place to experience Quito in luxury and style. At the same time, it is one of the most pivotal and convenient spots to explore the Old Town from.
#2: San Francisco Church & Convent
On December 6, 1535, one year after the founding of the colonial city then called San Francisco de Quito, three Franciscan Friars arrived to establish a foothold in the new city. Almost 500 years later, the modern-day San Francisco Church and Monastery is home to an impressive collection of Spanish Colonial Art from the Quito School. The ancient buildings, the art collection, and the grounds themselves offer hours of enjoyment for tourists who enjoy history, art, and architecture.
Visiting the San Francisco Church is as easy as walking through the front doors, which we have rarely seen closed. There is no entrance fee. Tourists are welcome to walk the aisleways, sit in the pews, and enjoy the daunting ambience. You’ll notice as you read thru this article that we don’t have our normal number of photos. This is because photography in the church is very restricted. When we overcome this, we’ll update the article. So, for now, we only have photos of the nave, main altar, and choir.
#3: La Iglesia de la Compañía (The Church of the Society of Jesus)
Capped by green-and-gold domes, La Compañía de Jesús is Quito’s most ornate church and a standout among the baroque splendours of the Old Town. Free guided tours in English or Spanish highlight the church’s unique features, including its Moorish elements, perfect symmetry (right down to the trompe l’oeil staircase at the rear), symbolic elements (bright-red walls are a reminder of Christ’s blood) and its syncretism (Ecuadorian plants and indigenous faces are hidden along the pillars).
Construction on this marvellously gilded Jesuit church began in 1605 but wasn’t completed for another 160 years; the main altarpiece alone took 20 years (former president Gabriel García Moreno is buried here). The made-in-the-USA organ is circa 1889. Check out the chiaroscuro-style series of paintings called the 16 Prophets by Nicolás Javier de Goríbar and the large canvas Hell and Final Judgement from 1879 – it’s still a mystery what happened to the original, painted by Hermano Hernando de la Cruz in 1620. Quiteños proudly call it the most beautiful church in the country, and it’s easy to see why.
#4: Arco de la Reina (The Queen’s Arch)
The Queen’s Arch is easily identified by its vivid orange and white colours as it soars over the narrow street right outside of the Carmen Alto Convent. It was originally built in 1726 to protect the indigenous devotees of an old chapel from the rain. A glass display area now stands where the chapel used to be located, containing a vibrant oil painting of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles.
You can visit the Queen’s Arch as you make your way from Carmen Alto Museum to Santo Domingo Church.
#5: Santo Domingo Church
This church is famous for its magnificent religious sculpture and the image of the Virgin, which was a gift from Charles V of Spain Santo Domingo Church borders the southern edge of Quito Old Town and stands grandly over Santo Domingo Plaza. The church represents fascinating periods in Quito’s religious history, as it was constructed by Dominicans and modified by Italian priests. Visit Santo Domingo Church to admire its impressive architecture, finely decorated interior, and sculptures and paintings by celebrated Dominican artists
Start your visit to Santo Domingo Church by wandering around Santo Domingo Plaza. Visit the statue of Ecuadorian independence hero, Antonio José de Sucre. Sucre faces toward the distant Pichincha volcano, where he won the battle for the country’s independence in 1822.
The church’s stately tower features Baroque architectural styling and a city clock. Inside the church, admire the neoclassical and Baroque altarpieces and Moorish-style details. Santo Domingo Church is well known for its awe-inspiring collection of art, located in the Lady of the Rosary chapel and the church museum. See magnificent works by noteworthy Quiteño artists, including carvings, reliefs and stunning frescos. Also on display is the famous sculpture of the Virgen del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) and fine examples of artworks from the Quito School of Art.
#6: Centro Cultural Metropolitano (The Metropolitan Cultural Center)
The Centro Cultural Metropolitano offers something special and unique for everyone. It shares the same building with a library and a restaurant, making the atmosphere here rather intellectual and inviting.
At Centro Cultural Metropolitano, you can view contemporary exhibitions and the museum’s antique local art collection. Its large, internal plaza is covered by an enormous glass dome that is impressive enough on its own, but the Centro Cultural Metropolitano offers visitors unprecedented, thought-provoking exhibitions, ranging from art to literature to history (and anything in between), creating a magical journey between the various, mood-lit rooms on its first and second floors.
#7: Palacio de Gobierno (The Government Palace)
Quito’s presidential palace is located in the historic centre of the city right on the Plaza Grande. The building dates back to the mid-1500s when it was several private homes. In the early 1800s, these private homes were rebuilt to form the Palacio de Carondelet. Francisco de Carondelet supervised the work and the finished product was named after him.
Today, the third floor of the palace is a residential suite for the President and his family. You can take a free guided tour of several areas of the Presidential Palace.
As with most colonial homes in Ecuador, the Presidential Palace is built around a central courtyard with beautiful flowers and a large fountain.
From here you can see a mural by the famous Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamin that tells the story of the discovery of the Amazon River.
#8: Catedral Metropolitana de Quito (Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito)
The Cathedral of Quito, is one of the most important churches in the city, its history dates back to 1535 after the Spanish foundation of Quito, began the trace of streets and the framing of apples, after the trace, this solar was given to the first priest of Quito, the priest Juan Rodriguez.
The Cathedral of Quito has been ranked in the neoclassical style, but in particular, the architecture of this church does not have a definite artistic style, but rather four different styles such as the Gothic Revival in the semi-pointed and stained glass arches; Mudejar, in the coffered; neoclassical, in the entrance porticos chapels, porticos framing three canvases that are on the left side aisle and also in the altarpieces that are in the choir; Baroque, the largest of some chapels and altarpieces altarpiece.
#9: Museo del Carmen Alto (Carmen Alto Museum)
The order of the Discalced Carmelites founded a monastery in Quito in 1653. Before it became a monastery, the Carmen Alto Convent (Museo de Carmen Alto) was famous as the location where Saint Mariana of Jesus lived and died, and today, thousands of pilgrims make their way here each year to honour this famous Ecuadorian saint.
Two of the convent’s old cloisters now house a museum, where various pieces of religious art are on display, alongside images and artefacts from the convent’s century’s long history and information on the day-to-day lives of the nuns who live there. The rest of the building still functions as a working monastery. The nuns living within are famous for producing traditional sweets, including limones desamargados — small hollowed-out lemons filled with a sweet creamy centre.
#10: Museo Casa del Alabado (The Acclaimed Pre-Columbian Art Museum)
The Casa del Alabado museum may appear small upon entering, but don’t let that fool you. This Ecuadorian pre-Columbian art museum displays some of the city’s most precious and valuable artefacts. In total, the museum hosts 5,000 archaeological pieces with 500 of them continuously on display.
Casa del Alabado Museum has a large collection of pre-Columbian objects.
These pieces are all shown within this tastefully restored colonial house, built in the 17th century. The walls are built with exposed stone, which brings the pieces on display to life and lets their stories live on.
#11: Basílica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of the National Vow)
Just a few steps away from one of the 10 best boutique hotels of Quito, La Basílica del Voto Nacional dominates virtually every existing view of Quito’s historic district.
This enormous neo-Gothic church is the largest of its kind in the Americas, with two spire-like towers that rise far above the front of the church, giving it a near-ominous and powerful appearance. Hidden meanings and details are spread throughout the Basilica, and even the gargoyles on the side of the church represent different Ecuadorian animals including iguanas, armadillos, and Galapagos giant tortoises.
Because of its structure and design, Basilica of the National Vow has been compared to St Patrick’s Cathedral from New York and Notre Dame Cathedral from Paris.
The circular rose window showers the chapel in a mystical dance of colours, which contrast against the stark grey stones that were used to build it. The spiral stairways inside the church lead to the top of the towers, offering visitors a breath-taking view of Quito and its surrounding mountains. As you cross the catwalk along the inside ridge of the roof, it is easy to wonder just how many stories this enormous building holds. Although the ladders up to the smaller tower seem death-defying, the view is even more spectacular than the one at the top of the spiral stairways. This church not only offers a unique perspective into Quito’s history, but it also offers visitors a small little adventure in the form of architectural exploration.
#12: Teatro Nacional Sucre (The Sucre National Theatre)
The Teatro Sucre stands proudly in Quito’s historical Plaza del Teatro square. Beautifully designed, this theatre has a long history filled with ups and downs. This simply adds to the remarkable experience you will have when attending a performance here.
The architecture of Teatro Sucre is reminiscent of the opera houses that dominated Europe in the past. Its facade reflects the neoclassical style that was popular at that time. The building is magnificently constructed with arches and columns. The balcony features an image of Antonio Jose. As you walk towards the building you will see stunning figures of the famous Greek muses. Within the building, you get a distinctive baroque feel with plenty to keep your eyes entertained. The Teatro Nacional Sucre offers both local and international musical performances ranging from jazz to classical – so rest assured that there is something for everyone to enjoy.
#13: Teatro Bolívar (Bolivar Theatre)
Theatre Bolívar is immediately recognizable as a theatre from the outside – the large vertical backlit sign announcing ‘Bolívar’ and the circular, pink, and original ticket booth says it all. In the main entrance, a huge chandelier hangs down from a grey sea of hanging silk and above a mosaic-tiled floor, announcing that this experience is certainly unique.
Bolivar Theatre suffered fire damages in August 1999.
The theatre hosts a large variety of performances throughout the year in an atmosphere of both grandeur and elegance. The red leather seats lead up to a large stage fringed with royal red velvet curtains. Golden arches line either side of the theatre, accented with the same royal red. All there is to do is take your seat and enjoy the show!
#14: San Diego, Monastery and cemetery
The San Diego cemetery houses the tombs of presidents of the Republic, war heroes, artists, religious figures, intellectuals and other personalities of Ecuadorian history.
The cemetery opened its doors in 1872, in the area where some of the soldiers who fell in the Battle of Pichincha were buried.
Some of the buildings that make up this place were designed by emblematic figures of Quito’s architecture, such as Pietro Capurro, Luis Mideros and Francisco Durini, who worked on the construction of the old Military Hospital (San Juan).
This cemetery preserves its architectural beauty, characterised by mausoleums in classical, neoclassical, neo-gothic, baroque, neo-baroque and eclectic styles. There are also sarcophagi, catafalques and tombstones made of rough stone, marble, andesite and flagstone, with neo-Byzantine, Art Nouveau and Art Deco elements.
#15: Barrio San Marcos (San Marcos Neighbourhood)
The San Marcos neighbourhood, a time capsule within the centre. People walk leisurely, know their neighbours’ names and shop in local businesses, in an area where grocery shops, pharmacies and shoe shops rub shoulders with museums, bars, boutique hotels, cafés and restaurants, igniting a cultural focus that vibrates with authenticity.
The intersection of Junín and Montúfar streets is the gateway to San Marcos. Its northwest corner is dominated by the massive white walls of the Monastic Museum of Santa Catalina de Siena. This place hides exquisite paintings and sculptures by masters of the Quito School, such as Legarda and Samaniego, and an unusual relic: according to the faithful, praying on the “bench of miracles” – a wooden artefact more than 300 years old – cures illnesses and solves fertility problems.
San Marcos is one of Quito’s oldest quarters.
When is the perfect time to visit Quito and stay in the Historic Centre?
Planning a trip to Quito – Ecuador? Here’s what you need to know about Quito weather – including rainfall, average temperatures (monthly), rainy days and humidity. Quito is located in an altitude of 2.850 meters.
The highest mountains in Ecuador are more than 6.000 meters high. Your body must get used to the altitude slowly and you should give him the time! Quito has a subtropical highland climate. The city has a fairly constant cool climate due to its elevation and proximity to the equator. The average temperature during the day is 66°F (19°C), which generally falls to an average of slightly below 50°F (10°C) at night. The average temperature annually is 64°F (18°C). There are only really two obvious seasons in the city: dry and wet. The dry season (summer) runs from June to September and the wet season from October to May. The wet season in Quito only means it can rain once in a while it doesn’t rain all the time what resulting in that you can visit Quito year-round.
Meanwhile, stay in a luxury hotel in Old Town Quito, Old Town Quito Suites is one of the 10 best Boutique Hotels in Quito and let you pamper by us.