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     Old Town Quito City Tour

Special Events:
Day of the Dead

New Year's Eve

Length: 1 day

Follow Up Programs:
Otavalo Artisan Market

Trip Highlights: Explore the marvelous cathedrals

Enjoy sweeping views of Old Quito, the skyline of modern Quito and the Andes peaks in the distance

Old Town Quito, or Colonial Quito, is one of the best-preserved historic centers in South America. This is why it was declared a United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Cultural Center in 1978. The rich interiors of the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía and the monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo are pure examples of the 'Baroque school of Quito' - a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art. It took 160 years for La Compañía de Jesús Jesuit Church to be completed and it is estimated that there are one and a half tons of gold leaf covering the ceiling, walls and altar.

Other sites we will see in Old Town include La Virgen de Quito atop Panecillo Hill and the Parliament Building, City Hall, Cathedral and street performers at the Plaza de Independencia. The Parliament Building is home to stone murals that have kept a record of Ecuador's rich history.

At the Panecillo Hill, in the south of Colonial Quito, we will see the 43 meter (141 ft) high monument La Virgen de Quito. She was inaugurated in 1976 by the 11th archbishop of Quito to protect and watch over the city. This Madonna was sculpted after Bernardo de Lagarda's La Virgen de Quito at the main altar in the Iglesia de San Francisco. She is a winged Virgin Mary with a serpent fettered at her feet, holding evil on a chain. She stands on a 3,000 meter (9,840 ft) podium so she is seen from almost anywhere in the city.

From Panecillo Hill you will also have impressive views over the red-tiled roofs of Old Quito, the skyline of the modern quarter of Quito in the North and the surrounding snow topped volcanoes. We visit the Hill first, so that we are able to enjoy the views of the city and mountains before the clouds settle in around the mountains.

The Teleferiqo is Quito's cable car that goes up to an elevation of 4,000 m (13,123 ft) on the Andean peak Pichincha. Here we will enjoy fantastic views of nearby volcanoes and the city below. The Teleferiqo project also includes rides, restaurants, souvenir shops and gardens.

Special Events:

Dia De Los Muertos
Day of the Dead, November 1, La Compañía de Jesús Jesuit Church allows visitors to tour its catacombs.

New Year's Eve in Quito
Walk the streets of Quito to see the elaborate effigies, Años Viejos, which have been created from papier-mâché. The dummies represent people or events from the past year that the family may have been at odds with. At the stroke of midnight, the effigies are lit on fire as a symbol of burning away the past year's troubles to welcome in the New Year.

It is also custom to eat twelve grapes before midnight, for health, wealth and prosperity durign each month of the coming year. Another custom is to walk around the block with a suitcase to bring the journey of your dreams.

Day 1: We visit the Panecillo Hill to see the Virgen of Quito. Then explore Old Town's plazas and churches.

After lunch, we ride the Teleferiqo up Pichincha. Here we will enjoy fantastic views of nearby volcanoes and the city below.

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