- By Debra P.
- Published 07/30/2007
At an altitude of 2804m above sea level, Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is one of the highest cities in the world. It’s also one of the most appealing cities in the South American continent. Founded in 1534 by Sebastian de Benalcazar, Quito has some of the best preserved colonial buildings and churches in Latin America, some of which are more than 500 years old, in its Old Town. But, this part of Quito which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO is only one side of this fascinating city. Its New Town, just a couple of miles north of the Old Town, resembles any modern capital with its gleaming skyscrapers and newly constructed mansions. Visitors can enjoy the unique experience of walking around centuries old courtyards and mansions in the Old Town and then make a trip to the several modern museums that showcase the citys history, in the central part of town. It’s a city that offers a delightfully close look at the past while, at the same time, offering all the conveniences and comforts of a 21st century metropolis. Most of Quitos attractions lie in the Old Town and the New town. A large part of the colonial architecture including the churches, buildings and mansions are located in the Old Town while the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping spaces and travel agencies are in the New Town. Besides being the entry point of choice for those on their way to the Galapagos Islands, Quito is also just a couple of hours from the glaciers of the Pichincha volcano, and a variety of crafts markets just outside the city.