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10 Fun and Interesting Places to Travel in Ecuador

Updated on March 21, 2012

Ecuador has many places for visitors to explore and learn from of the culture in this country. In the heart of the historic quarter of Quito is the Plaza de la Independencia. It was one of the first settlements founded in South America by Spanish conquistadors, the city planned in 1535. Around the square visitors can see the city’s colonial architecture showing the Spanish baroque style of the 16th Century, and is surrounded by the most important buildings of this period including the Cathedral at the south of the square, GovernmentPalace in the west, City Hall, built 1952, in the east and the Archbishop’s Palace in the north.

The Convento de la Concepcion was founded 13 January 1577 under the Order of San Francisco and was the first in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. A fire caused serious damage to its architectural and artistic treasures, the original splendour lost. Today the nuns sell what they make at the roadside, such as Aloe Vera shampoo and other natural products. They were also known for making the clothes for the effigies of baby Jesus during the Christmas period. Visitors are welcome only so far into the convent but its worth a visit.

Casa de Benalcazar can be found in the heart of the historical centre and is listed as one of the city’s National Heritage sites. It was constructed during the 18th Century, built on the site where Sebastian de Benalcazar had lived two centuries before. Today it houses the Institute Ecuadoriano de Culture Hispanica which also holds a historical library.

La Basilica del Voto Nacional is an imposing church with gargoyles representing the national fauna. It is neo-gothis in style, built on a steep hill in the centre of the city a few blocks away from the Plaza de la Independencia to the northwest of the old city. La Basilica was started at the end of the 19th Century but was not finished until the 20th. The building was built with stone from the Pichinche quarries and in its lateral vaults can be found huge altar pieces. It is an imposing building with its Gothic rose windows and stained glass windows depicting Bible scenes. Its tower is the highest in Ecuador and can be seen from several points around the city. At night it is illuminated, like a beacon with bright green and blue lights and can be seen anywhere in the city.

The Government Palace was built between the 18th and early 19th Centuries by Baron Hector de Carondelet. Visitors are welcomed inside the main area, and once inside can see Spanish / Moorish architecture including an impressive 1966 mural by Guayasamin of Orellana discovering the Amazon on February 12 1542. The third floor is used as the President’s private quarters where he lives along with his family. The building has many corridors and reception rooms and official occasions are held here. Visitors can only enter the ground floor.

The Cathedral dates from the 16th Century and inside visitors will have the pleasure of seeing a collection of art, including works by Caspicara and Manuel Samaniego. The building is lit up at night. Both the Cathedral and the GovernmentPalace were scenes of shocking murders. In 1875 President Garcia Moreno was murdered by machete and in 1877 the Bishop of Quito was poisoned during a Good Friday Mass.


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