Quito: Journey to the Center of the Earth
Take a step into the past and find yourself in the city of Quito, a dynamic remnant of Ecuador’s rich colonial history.
To get a sense of the geography, visit La Mitad del Mundo, or the Equatorial Monument. This large monument marks the exact spot where the Earth’s northern and southern hemispheres meet, giving the city its namesake. Take a stroll through the manicured lawns and position yourself over the equator in an experience that puts you right in the center of the Earth.
Beyond geography, the city’s sense of self is firmly rooted in its heritage. Wander through the cobble-stoned streets of Quito’s Old Town and gaze up at the impressive La Basilica del Voto Nacional that watches over the city with its twin clock towers. Home to many UNESCO World Heritage site listings, Old Town transports you back to the days of Spanish rule with its colorful colonial architecture and Old World charm. A favorite for many travelers is the Casa Museo Maria Augusta Urrutia. Housed in a 19th century mansion of Spanish style, the museum provides an intimate look at one of the country’s finest aristocrats. Marvel at the intricate finery that decorates the home including such rich embellishments as hand-painted wallpaper, professional wall murals, and an antique grain masher.
The uniquely modern exterior of the Museo Etnografico de Artesania de Ecuador might fool you into thinking it houses more contemporary work but the opposite is actually true. This museum is where traditional utensils, artwork and clothing of Ecuador’s native populations are showcased. Immerse yourself in the life and times of Native Ecuadorians and learn how these communities lived off their land and celebrated their culture.
Visitors hoping to bring home that unique souvenir cannot miss the market of nearby city, Otavalo. Heralded throughout Ecuador for its artisan goods, you will find rainbow-colored vendor booths selling everything from handcrafted dolls and quilts to exotic fresh fruits and beautiful wood carvings. The best days to visit are Saturdays and Wednesdays, when the largest number of vendors are present.