Quito is Ecuador's capital and the country's second-biggest city. It resides in exquisite natural surroundings shielded by a volcano that features two peaks, known as Pichincha. It takes just a few hours to get accustomed to Quito's high elevation, and then this former Incan city becomes an inviting destination buzzing with plenty of activity and attractions. There is a wealth of culture and arts for visitors to enjoy, all heavily influenced by its Spanish colonial character. Architecture, archeology, and history are all around you as well. Retail enthusiasts will have plenty to smile about since shopping in Quito is full of options while night owls are bound to take advantage of the buzzing Quito nightlife.
Some of the attractions you will want to experience include:
-Independence Plaza: This plaza is considered a jewel resting in the middle of the Andes Mountains. It is surrounded by four spectacular structures, including the Archbishop's Palace, the Cathedral, the Government Palace, and the Municipal palace. It is truly a breathtaking sight to behold.
-San Francisco Church and Plaza: San Francisco de Quito, Quito's oldest church, is a large complex residing on over 8,500 acres. It showcases architecture that is a combination of styles, including Baroque in the interior and ornate Moorish details on section of the ceiling. In pre-Columbian days, this area was a large Indian marketplace.
-Metropolitan Cultural Center: This historical structure is situated next to the Government's Palace. It was built in the 17th century by Jesuits. A fight for independence took place here in August of 1810 and the Alberto Mena Caamano Museum was created in honor of the massacre that ensued.
-Quito Botanical Garden: Ecuador is known for its exquisite variety of plants. In this garden, visitors will find 1,200 orchid varieties as well as numerous other unique species indigenous to the region.
-Terefico: This is a small cable car that carries guests up part of the Pichincha Volcano.
-The Guayasamin Museum: This museum is dedicated to one of the country's most celebrated artists, Guayasamin. Guayasamin was an avid collector of Ecuadorian art and had planned to find a home for his collection. He was not able to before his death, so the museum was created in his honor.
Quito is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in South America. A vacation rental here can bring all of the exciting options of the city right to your doorstep. An apartment or condo downtown keeps you in the center of all the activity and something situated closer to the ocean provides excellent beachfront views.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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