Colonial Quito, Quito

173 Reviews

Been here? Rate It!

hide
  • Colonial Quito
    by MalenaN
  • Colonial Quito
    by MalenaN
  • Colonial Quito
    by MalenaN
  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Plaza San Francisco

    by toonsarah Written Jan 12, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Plaza San Francisco
    4 more images

    Although it lacks the greenery of the Plaza de la Independencia, and the relative grandeur of its surrounding buildings too, I found myself developing a special fondness for the Plaza San Francisco, just a few blocks up the hill from our hotel.

    The plaza is one of the oldest in the city, constructed on the site where the palace of the Inca ruler Atahualpa´s son, Auqui Francisco Tupatauchi, once stood. It was used for centuries by indigenous groups as a trading center, or tianguez – and a shop with that name now occupies the arches under the church (see separate shopping tip). The plaza is cobbled and built on a slope, with the result that from the upper side, by the church and conveniently located Tianguez café (again, see separate tip) you get some excellent views – of the life of the square, of the surrounding Quito rooftops (including the domes of La Compañia) and of El Panecillo and other hills of the city.

    And there is plenty of life to be seen here, as you sit over a coffee perhaps or on the steps of the church. Young shoe-shine boys tout for business; women in traditional dress try to sell their colourful scarves; local workers hurry to their offices; children play in the fountain; tourists wander, cameras at the ready; and the tourist police watch over it all. If like me you regard people-watching as one of the essential pleasures of a city-based holiday, you will be very happy to spend time here.

    Next tip: the Museo Fray Pedro Gocial in the convent of San Francisco

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Iglesia La Merced

    by toonsarah Written Jan 12, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    La Merced
    3 more images

    I had not read as much about this church as many of the others in Quito before our arrival, but as our walk took us past it one day we decided to pop inside for a look. Approaching the church along Cuenca gave us an excellent view of it, and as it was morning and therefore sunny it was shown to best advantage, its white walls gleaming. Entering we found that there was no fee to pay and no restriction on photography other than a request not to use flash – unusual here in Quito.

    The church dates from the early part of the 18th century, having replaced an earlier one that was destroyed by earthquake in 1660. The tower is the highest in colonial Quito, at 47 metres. According to a legend this tower is possessed by the devil. Supposedly the only person strong enough to resist the devil was a black bell-ringer named Ceferino, and no one has dared enter the tower since he died in 1810. The clock therefore stands still and the bell is never rung.

    The church has an unusual grey stone door frame, with images of the sun and moon carved above the lintel – the two heavenly bodies worshipped by the indigenous people who no doubt quarried the stone. Inside two features dominate – the beautifully painted dome (photo three) with its dedication to Mary, and the altar (photo four). The latter has a life-size stone statue of the Virgin of Mercy, to whom Sucre dedicated his victorious sword after the Battle of Pichincha. The statue was carried in procession during the eruptions of Pichincha volcano.

    All this we saw, as well as a number of interesting paintings. But I wish I had done more research, as I found out after returning home that the cloister here is considered one of the most attractive in Quito, with pillars of stone and dazzling white archways, as well as a wide stone courtyard with a magnificent carved stone fountain in the centre. Furthermore, from this cloister you can apparently access the library, with two floors of ancient parchments and gold- and leather-bound books. How I regret not having seen this! Nevertheless we enjoyed our visit to this slightly off-the-path church.

    La Merced is open Monday-Saturday 7.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.00, and 13.00-17.00 on Sundays.

    Next tip: another church, that of San Agustin

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Iglesia San Agustin

    by toonsarah Written Jan 12, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Iglesia San Agustin
    1 more image

    The church of San Agustin is one of the oldest in Quito, having been constructed during the first half of the 17th century, but much of it has been rebuilt after damage by earthquake in 1880. It has a distinctive tall bell tower (37 metres) topped with a statue of St Augustine. Unfortunately we didn’t get a good look inside. The first time we passed it was closed, and the second time we were in a hurry as it was our last morning in Quito and we had to get back to our hotel to be picked up for the airport. But we did manage to get a quick look at what seemed to me to be a somewhat plainer church than some of the others in Quito but with attractively painted walls and ceiling – almost more in the style of a grand house than a place of worship.

    The most noted part of the church is in fact its cloisters, which we had no time to visit. These are decorated with paintings depicting the life of St Augustine, dating from the mid 17th century and the work of an important artist of the Quiteño school, Miguel de Santiago. The chapterhouse opens off the cloister and was the location for an important event in the city’s history – the signing, on August 10th 1809, of Ecuador’s declaration of independence from Spain.

    A more thorough exploration of this church and its treasures will be one of my priorities should we ever return to Quito.

    Next tip: a café that shares its name with this church, the Heladaria San Agustin

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo

    Iglesia Santo Domingo

    by toonsarah Updated Jan 12, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Santo Domingo at night
    4 more images

    The church of Santo Domingo was our “next-door neighbour” while we were in Quito, but somehow we never got round to going inside until our last morning in the city, and when we did so there was a service in progress so we couldn’t look round properly. But while we were hesitating at the back a local lady motioned to us to indicate that we should go ahead, so we did just walk quietly along the right-hand side to peer into its most noted treasure, the Chapel of the Rosary (see photo four). This alone is worth a visit to this church! It is richly decorated in deep red and gold, with a stunning rococo altar-piece, and quite takes your breath away. We had been told by our guide in the museum (next tip) that this was the only part of the church to retain its original appearance, after the rest was redecorated in what later Dominicans considered more appropriate to the worship of God – this being thought perhaps too rich and worldly. But can you imagine what the church must once have looked like if it were once all like this?! It isn’t possible to enter the chapel (or at least, wasn’t possible when we visited) but photos are allowed from the gate that closes it off, as long as you don’t use flash. Despite resting my camera on that gate, the gloom has meant that my photo is a little blurred but I had to share it so you can see a little of the dramatic effect of this chapel.

    The rest of the church is much plainer although still worth seeing, with some notable paintings – apparently. As I said, we weren’t really able to look around properly, but didn’t mind at all, as once we’d seen that chapel we were more than happy that we’d made time to come inside our neighbour church.

    The church stands in, and dominates, the plaza of the same name. In the centre of the square a statue of Antonio Jose de Sucre points to the Pichincha volcano where he led the winning battle for Ecuador’s independence in 1822. I had read that the square is considered unsafe at night, but we walked along its north-eastern side several times on our way to and from La Ronda, once stopping to take photos, and never saw anything to concern us. However, we may have been lucky, so do be careful if you visit at night.

    From the southern corner of the plaza you can walk under the arch that the church forms over the road, Rocafuerte, and look back for some rather different views – see photos two and three.

    Next tip: the museum attached to this church, the Museo Domenicano de Arte

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    La Compañia de Jesús

    by MalenaN Updated Sep 5, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    La Compa��ia de Jes��s, Quito
    4 more images

    La Compañia de Jesús is said to be the most beautiful church in Ecuador, and the most ornate church too. Construction of the church was begun in 1605 by the Jesuits, but it was not completed until 160 years later, in 1765. Since than it has been restored after damages caused by earthquakes and a fire.

    The baroque façade is built with volcanic stone and it is full of stone carvings. Inside La Compañia de Jesús is decorated with gold in the ceiling, on the walls and at the altars. There are many paintings and sculptures. One famous painting is a large painting of The Final Judgment and Hell, others are the 16 paintings made by Nicolás Javier Goribar of prophets from the Old Testament on the pillars.

    The admission to visit La Compañia de Jesús was $3 (June 2011).
    The church is open between 9.30 - 13.30 on Monday - Friday, between 9 - 16.30 on Saturdays and between 13 - 16.30 on Sundays.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Plaza San Francisco

    by MalenaN Written Jun 1, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Plaza San Francisco, Quito
    4 more images

    Plaza San Francisco is one of the most beautiful places in Quito. It is a cobbled square with the whitewashed church and monastery of San Francisco standing along its north-western side. Construction of the square and church begun shortly after the foundation of Quito in 1534 and it is built on the site where Auqui Tupatauchi, the son of the Inca ruler Atahualpa, had his palace.

    Plaza San Francisco is sloping gently and you will therefore get a nice view over the rooftops of Quito. In the north corner of the square is Café Tianguez where you will have a great view over the square from one of the outdoor tables. It is not a cheap place, but the food is good.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Iglesia El Sagrario

    by MalenaN Updated May 24, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Iglesia El Sagrario

    I found Iglesia El Sagrario when I looked for an entrance to the cathedral during my first day in Quito. El Sagrario was built as the main chapel of the cathedral, but it is now its own church. I passed many times during my visits to Quito and the church was often open

    Iglesia El Sagrario dates from the 17th century. The ceiling and walls are painted to look like marble. Light is coming in through the windows in a cupola over the central nave. The façade is built in Renaissance Style.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Iglesia San Agustín

    by MalenaN Written May 21, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Iglesia San Agust��n, Quito
    4 more images

    When I visited Quito I passed Iglesia San Agustin every day as it was situated only one block from where I was staying., but I only went inside once, for a short visit. It is a church that dates back to the 16th century, but after an earthquake much of it was rebuilt in 1880. The bell tower is 37m tall and on the top stands a statue of St Augustine.

    I should definitely come back next time I go to Quito to visit the adjacent monastery. That is where Ecuador’s declaration of independence was signed on August 10 1809, and many of the heroes of the battle of independence are buried in the crypt. There is also a collection of religious art. The monastery was completed in 1627. From one of the windows at El Cafeto there is a good view over the courtyard.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    La Ronda

    by MalenaN Written May 17, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    La Ronda, Quito
    4 more images

    La Ronda is a narrow lane in Centro Histórico, lined by old colonial buildings from the 16th century. It is a picturesque place. On some houses you can read signs about artists and writers who once lived here.

    La Ronda used to be a dangerous area, but it has now been restored and security has increased. It is a street for pedestrians only. Along the street there are restaurants, bars, art galleries and small shops. When I visited it was quiet, but at night, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, La Ronda gets lively with lots of people visiting the bars and restaurants. At many places live music is then played.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Museo de Arte Colonial

    by MalenaN Written May 13, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Museo de Arte Colonial is situated in a restored building from the 17th century. It is said that the museum has got the best collection of colonial art in Quito, or even in whole Ecuador. In the exhibitions there are furniture, paintings and sculptures, many made by artists of the Quito school, artists like Miguel de Santiago, Caspicara (Manuel Chili) and Bernardo de Legarda.

    It is not allowed to take photos inside the museum and you must leave your camera and bag in a locker by the reception. The museum is open between 9 - 13 and 14 - 16 on Tuesday - Friday, and between 10 - 14 on Saturdays. Admission was $2 (June 2011).

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Plaza Grande

    by MalenaN Written May 13, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Plaza Grande, Quito
    4 more images

    Plaza Grande is the main square in Centro Histórico. It is a lovely square with trees and tall palm trees, and plenty of benches to sit on to rest or watch people. It is surrounded by historic buildings, like the Archbishop Palace, Palacio del Gobierno and the Cathedral. On the eastern side of the square there are modern buildings, the municipality building and the tourist office. In the middle of the square there is a high pillar with a statue on top the Independence Monument. Plaza Grande is officially called Plaza de la Independencia.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • davidjo's Profile Photo

    PLAZA DE SAN FRANCISCO

    by davidjo Written Apr 6, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    SAN FRANSISCO MONASTERY

    The Plaza is built on the side of a hill and offers good views of Quito. This was built on the site of an old Inca Temple, and now there are many cafes surrounding the square. One of the most important sites is the San Francisco Monastery which you can enter and see golden angels, magnificent artwork and many images of the sun, as the Spanish tried to relate the sun to the Christian faith to convert the locals. The wooden furniture is also interesting as there are pearls covering the wood.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Palacio del Gobierno

    by MalenaN Written Mar 31, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Palacio del Gobierno, Quito
    4 more images

    The large white building on the north-western side of Plaza Grande is Palacio del Gobierno (the Presidential Palace). It has a long balcony with arches and columns. The ironwork on the balcony originally comes from a palace in Paris, and was bought shortly after the French Revolution. On top of the building there is a large Ecuadorian flag. Originally there was a palace built on this site in 1650, which functioned as the governor’s office. However, it was burnet down in 1920, but it was immediately rebuilt.

    Since 2007 the palace is open for visitors and there are several guided tours daily, mainly in Spanish, but also in English. When the government is not in session, the palace is closed. There is a mural by the stairway made by the famous Ecadorian artist Guayasamin. It shows the decent of Francisco de Orellana to the Amazon. When I visited Quito last year I didn’t go on the guided tour, but when I go back later this year I hope to do that.

    At 11 o’clock on Mondays there is the changing of guards in front of the palace.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Iglesia Santo Domingo

    by MalenaN Written Mar 25, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Plaza Santo Domingo, Quito
    4 more images

    On the south-eastern side of Plaza Santo Domingo stands the 17th century church Iglesia Santo Domingo. It is a white washed church with an onated stone façade and one clock tower. Construction of the church begun in 1581 but it was not finished until 1650. Much of de interior dates from the 19th century. In the front there is a gothic style altar and on the walls there are several painting from the Quito school. The masterpiece of the church is considered to be an ornated side chapel in baroque style with a statue of the Virgen del Rosario.
    The church is open between 7-12 and 15-18.

    Around 15m to the left of the entrance to the church is the Museo Arte Fray Pedro Bedon, a museum with a collection of religious art from the 16th and 17th century.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Teatro Sucre

    by MalenaN Written Feb 1, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Teatro Sucre, Quito
    2 more images

    Teatro Sucre is a large beautiful building standing on the southwest side of Plaza del Teatro. It was constructed in 1878 and has a white façade with arches, columns and a balcony. On the fries above the balcony there are figures of Greek muses. The theatre opened up again in 2004 after some years of restoration. Teatro Sucre is the Ecuadorian National Theatre and here some of the best plays, concerts and dance performances in the country are held.

    On the second floor there is a restaurant called Theatrum. I never went there, but maybe I will go there next time I visit Quito.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Quito

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

64 travelers online now

Comments

View all Quito hotels