Welcome to Quito - The place where the GPS marks 0,0,0
January 1, 1970
by Sebastian Castillo
Visiting the place where the GPS marks 0,0,0
For my first article I want to talk about the place where the GPS marks 0,0,0. Also the place where I live and my hometown.
I live in Quito the capital city of Ecuador. Quito is located at 2800 m above the sea level (don’t worry you won’t have problems with height if you come here) is a really beautiful city with a lot of history, traditions and culture.
The first registers of Quito are known because of the Quitu tribe. We only have records about it thanks to Juan de Velasco a priest and a chronicler that came with the Spanish conquerors.
The Quitus were conquered by the Caras Tribe and after that the Inca Empire conquered them.
After the Spanish people came here and conquered the tribes, Quito was stablished as a Spanish city founded on December 6 of 1534, by Sebastian de Benalcazar.
Is a remaining of that colonial period we inherited one of the most beautiful places. Until today we have the biggest, better preserved and less altered historical downtowns in the America.
It was also declared as Human Patrimony by UNESCO.
Today Quito is a modern city with a lot to offer for the people around the globe. Actually meanwhile I’m writing this, the ONU convention Habitat III is taking place here and we are receiving people, presidents and delegates from all over the world.
A Historical City with a lot to discover.
By this time you may think ok sounds good all the history and bla bla, but what is there for me? Ok let me tell you more about the touristic part of Quito.
To know Quito you will need not more than 3 days. We are a relatively small city.
The living art of churches and downtown architecture
If you like history and art Quito will offer you a lot to visit. The historical Downtown is by itself a living museum. All this part of the city has been preserved since 1600 and the government keep the most of the buildings as when they were build. Some of them are in permanent restoration.
Religious Art and Architecture
In Quito almost every single corner in the historical downtown there is a church. Quito in its tradition have a really big religious heritage.
Taking apart the religious beliefs it worth it by the art. Many of them have awesome carvings inside covered entirely by gold (look for Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus)
In the walls there are incredible paintings made by Quito artists. Inside the museums, cloisters and abbeys there are a huge and invaluable collection of paintings, sculptures, murals and religious objects from ancient times. Most of them have hundreds of years and you can visit most of them.
Take a trip inside the historical downtown taking all the tours may take a complete day (At least 6 to 8 hours)
The Winged Mother Marry that protects Quito
As I told you previously Quito has a really strong bond with the religious beliefs so, there is another place to visit. The “Virgen del Panecillo” is a giant statue of Mother Marry that is located up in a hill in the middle of the city. The original one you can find it inside of a church in the historical downtown. Ask for “Virgen de Legarda” that is the original name. This Statue and the original one is the the only Mother Marry representation in the world that have wings as an angel. For some people is the one that protets Quito. There you can visit the statue and can have a beautiful view of the entire historical downtown from above and also you can have a good meal on good restaurants.
The exact center, The Equador line.
Another great place to visit is the “Monumento a la Mitad del Mundo” located like 30 min away from the city. That place is located In memory of the Geodesic Mission that came to Ecuador from France to measure the earth and stablish the equator line. There you can stay on both sides of the Earth. One foot on the northern hemisphere and one on the southern one. Keep in mind to ask the guide for “Katekilla” place. You will find a nice answer to that.
At “Mitad del Mundo “also you can find a lot of culture and traditional food from all regions of Ecuador. Keep in mind that if you visit there you are in the center of the planet and the things work different there for example you can go and try some special experiments.
For example If you take with a GPS to the latitude 0 0 0 you can flush a sink and there is not going to make a whirlpool. The same Idea if you go a little bit to the north or to the south and flush it the water will run in different ways.
Nightlife and party
In Quito there is not only history and crazy experiments, there are a modern part. If you like to party there is a place in the north center of the city that is known as “La Zona” that is like the district where all the nightlife take part. There you can find coffee shops, clubs, restaurants and all the nightlife you want.
Looking Quito from the heights.
Other place that tourist like to go is to the “teleferico” there is a cableway to the top of the mountain to have an awesome view of the complete city. Personally I don´t recommend it because up in the top you only have that, and nothing more. Also you go up to 4200 meters over the sea level so is really hard to be there especially for people that comes from the coast.
Lets talk about being “Quiteño”
The people in Quito is really special. We are a mix between 2 cultures the Hispanic and the Andean tribes.
The people here is called “quiteño” if is a man or “quiteña” if is a girl. Let me clarify that a Quiteño is only the person that is born and raise here but from parents born and raised in Quito too.
That clarification is because you will find people from all over Ecuador in Quito that emigrate from their places to the big city. Believe me you will recognize a true Quiteño.
Being Quiteño is really a motive of proud for us. A quiteño is always kind, friendly and really a gentleman with the ladies. The woman here are the same always kind and respectful and a great host. All of us are hard worker but with a brave, rebel and independent spirit inside. Quito was the first city to become independent from Spain that is why is also known as Quito Luz de America. We also have a special way to talk and a special way to say things. And we love to Party.
I was checking some posts online and also Quito is ranked as one of the best cities to make friends and also to retire.
You will always be welcome here
The other face of Quito
To be fair I think I have to tell you about the other side of here. Well if you want to visit us please take care of your things especially in the Historic downtown because this is not a closed area. The historical part is still working as any other part of the city with shops, schools, health, etc. There are a lot of police especially in the most touristic places but take care.
Other bad side is the shopping malls. Here you can find everything but really expensive because our money are US dollar so the prices and the taxes are high.
And the final bad thing is the traffic. Here we have a lot of cars in a small city so be patient if you are driving or in a bus.
Some little words to Finish
For me Quito is a beautiful place to know and especially if you want to make new friends and know about colonial period.
As a quiteño I can say I’m proud of my city to be the winner of the leading destination South America on World Travel Awards two times in a row.
My recommendation if you want to visit Ecuador is to separate a couple of days to visit Quito, it worth it, and after that you can use it as a base to visit other places outside the city or outside the province. Ecuador is a small country so you can travel in a few hours.
Quito for me is Magic.
Thanks for reading
See you the next time