Ecuador’s old colonial heart used to be a no-go area. But since it has had a makeover, it’s a must-visit. Sarah Barrell goes exploring downtown
Strange to think that stopping for ice cream could be considered part of an historical tour. But in the “new” Quito old town, it seems things are changing so fast that a septuagenarian ice-cream seller with a lifetime pitch on a corner of Plaza San Francisco is considered something of an endangered relic.
Of course in the old town, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1978, there’s no lack of historical attractions. This sky-scraping city, capital of Ecuador in the northern Andes is home to some of the most stunning Spanish colonial architecture on the continent. The spires of some 30 churches spike Quito’s skyline, including the oldest in the Americas, the Iglesia San Francisco, the jewel in the crown of yet another superlative – the continent’s largest religious complex. Sitting at an altitude of 2,800m, Quito has always been breathtaking, but in the past few years the city’s colonial hub has undergone a facelift that will truly take your breath away.