Sit back, relax, and dream about the adventures that await you in Ecuador. First, imagine exploring Quito’s vibrant neighborhoods and admiring the beautiful colonial Spanish architecture that makes the city a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, picture yourself studying the ecological diversity of the Galápagos Islands, standing on the equator in Mitad del Mundo, and hiking the mountain rainforest in Loja Province. Pack your bags now—South America awaits you.
“The historical grandeur of Quito shines with its own splendor in its monuments and in the deeds of its great men, zealously conserved in documents and archives in the libraries and picture galleries of the entire Hispanic world. However, Quito also vibrates with current and present time. The patina of tradition serves as a luster, but the old titles and nobiliary prerogatives were unable to prevent its ankylosis. Conscious of this, Quito is a modern and vigorous city that marches with the present and future of the country and of America. Quito doesn’t shield behind the historical and ceremonial heading of ‘The very noble and very loyal city of San Francisco’: It has taken up the challenge of progress and takes lead as an example for everyone.
For those who care to look, Quito furnishes a pleasant surprise: because there are a few places like it where there lives in singular harmony the Moorish and Hispanic cultures, the discrete indigenous grace with the exuberant Baroque and the eclectic of the beginning of the century with the daring modern structures.” —Ediciones Paralelo Cero
Located in the Plaza de Independencia, the Carondelet Palace has been the home of the Ecuadorian president for more than 300 years. With an exterior designed with neoclassic architecture, the building is ornately decorated inside as well. The president resides on the third floor; visitors can only view the first floor.
Previously the spot for local trading, the Plaza de San Francisco still bustles with activity today. Built on an incline, the Plaza provides beautiful views of Quito.
La Mitad del Mundo, located 12 miles outside of Quito, marks the equatorial line. Visitors can discover more about Ecuador's indigenous people at the Museu Etnográfico Mitad del Mundo and experiment with the gravitational pull by testing balance, water flow and resistance.
"The monument for the equator was my favorite famous landmark and was lined with artisan stalls, ice cream vendors and local musicians." -Katy F., Luther College
As the largest park in Quito, El Parque La Carolina boasts an expansive space for recreation including a boating lake, playgrounds, volleyball and basketball courts, and restaurants. It is situated near several shopping centers and is home to art festivals on the weekends.