Quito in Ecuador. Although lying just 20 miles south of the equator, Quito actually enjoys a spring-like climate all year round owing to its high elevation.
Positioned 2800m above sea level in Ecuador’s incredibly- vast Guayllabamba river basin and encircled by mighty volcanic peaks, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world. Although second to southerly Guayaquil in terms of population size, Quito has held the status of capital city of Ecuador for almost two hundred years (1830) and remains a thriving hub of political and cultural activity. With its fascinating history and diverse urban landscape, the Latin American metropolis, unsurprisingly, remains a firm favorite among tourists.
Despite the rapidly-growing number of multicultural communities present within the world’s capital cities, Quito’s indigenous inhabitants still make up a large part of the almost 2 million people living in the Ecuadorian capital and take pride in wearing their traditional brightly-colored dress and speaking their unique Quechua language.
The Capital of Ecuador
From a rural Pre-Colombian indigenous settlement to the buzzing, urbanized capital city of present day, Quito boasts an extraordinarily rich history. Although great uncertainty surrounds the exact identity and movements of Quito’s founders, many archeologists maintain that the Quitus, the name given to these indigenous inhabitants and from whom the modern day city’s name derives, resided in the Guayllabamba basin until the 15th Century before the great Incan invasion and subsequent arrival of the Spaniards. Respectively deciding that Quito would be the perfect location for the political and ceremonial activities of their great empire and the capital of their recently colonized territory, Incan emperors and Spanish colonialists alike fought hard to extend their power over the expansive area of land. However, with the gaining of independence in 1822, Quito’s function as a city was transformed once more becoming both the capital of the newly declared Republic of Ecuador in 1830 and the seat of government, congress and the Supreme Court. Pouring money into numerous infrastructure projects and constructing striking buildings in the two subsequent centuries, Quito soon became the architecturally diverse city for which it is highly renowned today.
The Middle of the World
Home to an array of intriguing museums, an abundance of magnificent churches and one of the largest and best-preserved historic centers in the Americas, Quito leaves its visitors spoilt for choice when it comes to sightseeing. Although virtually impossible to name all of Quito’s attractions, a tour of the "Old Town", a visit to "La Mitad del Mundo" and a ride on the "Teleférico" cable car are but a few of the popular tourist activities. Whereas the "Old Town", as visitors would expect, is filled with Quito’s oldest and most prestigious sites and buildings including Independence Square, the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral, which is the oldest in the whole of South America, tourists less proficient in Spanish may be unsure as to what to expect upon hearing the name "La Mitad del Mundo". Found just fifteen miles north of Quito and literally translating to "The Middle of the World", the prominent, trapezoidal monument, unsurprisingly, commemorates the fact that it is the official site of the Middle of the World given that it straddles both the northern and southern hemispheres. However, although this equatorial complex offers fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, visitors wishing to appreciate Quito from a height should not miss out on the opportunity to cruise across the sky on the capital’s "Teleférico". From sky high glimpses of white washed and colorful colonial architecture in the north to modern, high-rise office buildings in the south, Quito’s cable car experience perfectly accentuates the sheer diversity and immensity of the capital’s metropolitan landscape and provides photo-snapping tourists with some truly spectacular panoramic shots.