Mara Dall travels in Quito and shares some of the highlights of this beautiful city…
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The city of Quito is close to the equator but 9300 feet (2850 metres) above sea level, nestled high up in the Andes mountains.
Overlooking the city, guarding it from above, is La Virgen de Quito, reminding you of Quito’s Spanish colonial heritage…. as if you ever had a chance to forget.
But Quito’s origins predate the Spanish colonial era – before the Spanish arrived, Quito was a major Inca city – and before that, it was the home of the peaceful indigenous Quitu people.
Quito today has a modern side, but the most interesting part of Quito is the old city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site – its architecture is mostly Spanish colonial, with spacious plazas, beautifully proportioned buildings, and dominated by its magnificent churches and cathedrals.
Ecuador is a country where beauty is honoured, with little artistic touches in the hotels and shops. Art and music are evident everywhere – especially evident in the artisan villages, each of which specialises in a particular craft (from leatherwork, to silver filigree, to guitar making).
My beautiful hotel room in Quito
I stayed at La Posada Colonial, an hotel that was a restored colonial building. You walk into a doorway off the street, and up a flight of stairs, and you enter a magical world of lovely proportions and gracious living… you walk through a hall way filled with paintings and flowers, you pass an antique typewriter sitting on a hall table, and are led to a grand bedroom with high ceilings and embrasured windows (and internet access).
At 9300 feet, you notice the effects of the altitude when you begin to explore – some of the streets are steep (as you’d expect of a city built in the mountains) and you’re likely to become breathless more easily than usual… drink plenty of water, rest often, and you can always try some coca-leaf tea (which helps with altitude adjustment).