Quito Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Quito

Nestled high in the Andes, Ecuador's capital Quito is deservedly nicknamed "the City in the Clouds". Adding to its unique landscape is the fact that Quito rests on the foundations of an ancient Incan city. The historic center of Quito preserves much its colonial past manifested in 16th-17th-century buildings featuring a blend of European, Moorish and indigenous styles. This orientation walk comprises a number of historic and cultural attractions, including museums, plazas, cathedrals, and more.
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Quito Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Quito Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Ecuador » Quito (See other walking tours in Quito)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Museo de Arte Colonial
  • Convento de la Merced
  • Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús
  • Plaza de San Francisco
  • Museo de la Ciudad
  • Santo Domingo Church
  • Teatro Bolívar
  • Plaza del Teatro
  • Museo Camilo Egas
  • Plaza de Garcia
  • Observatorio Astronómico
  • Mariscal Artisans Market
Museo de Arte Colonial

1) Museo de Arte Colonial (must see)

The National Museum of Colonial Art is housed in a 17th-century mansion. Inside you'll find a large collection of paintings and sculptures of Quito as well as Spanish colonial furniture. Through this museum's works, you can get a sense of the tragic events of the colonial times. Some of the paintings from this dark period in the country's history can be difficult for visitors to look at as they depict bloody scenes. The use of such extreme depictions was meant to literally put the fear of God into the indigenous peoples, so they would convert to Catholicism. In addition to these, there are beautiful pieces that date back to the 16th-19th centuries with sculptures as well.

Why You Should Visit:
Provides a good overview of colonial art and can help to illuminate some of its themes and styles, which is helpful when viewing colonial art in the neighboring churches and convents.

Zero admission fee; however, photos are not allowed, even without a flash, except in the open courtyard.
If you don't read Spanish, hire a guide.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9:30am-5pm
Convento de la Merced

2) Convento de la Merced

The Convent of Merced is an impressive church that stands on the Merced Square. It boasts a solid quadrangular tower with Arabic features and a main elegant dome plus four small domes, all of which contribute to the extremely beautiful exterior of the church. There are also many unique and priceless paintings inside.
Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús

3) Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (must see)

This Jesuit edifice in the historic center of Quito is one of the city's best-known churches because of its large central nave profusely decorated with gold leaf, gilded plaster and wood carvings. It was modeled after the Church of the Gesù and Sant'Ignazio in Rome.

Styled in Latin American Baroque, it took the Jesuits order almost 160 years to finish construction. Design elements include a near symmetrical facade, Moorish influence in the nave, and artwork by artists of the Quito School of Art. The bell tower was one of the tallest structures from the colonial period but fell as an effect of the earthquakes of 1859 and 1868. Over the past few decades, the church has undergone lengthly restoration work, especially since a fire damaged the interior of the nave.

A sarcophagus with the remains of Ecuador's patron saint, Mariana de Jesús, is located in the base of the central altar.

Why You Should Visit:
While many churches through Europe & South America are elaborate, none match the interior of this church.

Make certain to go with a guide (English available) because it will provide a level of insight to the background that isn't available on an independent tour.
Photos are not allowed, but there is a gift shop hidden in the front right corner where postcards of the interior may be purchased amongst other things.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 9:30am-6:30pm; Fri: 9:30am-5:30pm; Sat: 9:30am-4pm; Sun: 12:30-4pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Plaza de San Francisco

4) Plaza de San Francisco (must see)

The Plaza de San Francisco is one of the oldest and most impressive squares in the whole city, dating all the way back to the 16th Century. This plaza offers incredible views of both the majestic white Monastery of San Francisco – one of Quito's top architectural sights – and the top of Volcán Pichincha. Why not visit a nice cafe at the corner of the square for a great view of the whole plaza and its many pigeons over an excellent cup of coffee.

Join the big festival they hold here from Aug 9 to 12 – the light shows are incredible!
Museo de la Ciudad

5) Museo de la Ciudad (must see)

The Museum of the City of Quito was founded in 1998 at the former Hospital of Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, itself a historic site. This fascinating museum takes a creative approach to relating Quito's past, spanning from the daily life of the pre-historic era up to the 19th Century. These epochs are vividly brought to life by great wax figures and amazing sound effects.

Why You Should Visit:
Surprisingly entertaining and informative set of displays with a wide range of exhibit material.
There's also a little restaurant inside offering a relaxing place to sit and relax in the quiet with a nice view.

As most exhibits are labelled in Spanish only, make sure you take the free tour with the English speaking guide if needed.
While inside, don't forget to look at the floors – in some places, they are a part of the display.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5pm (admission ends at 4pm)
Santo Domingo Church

6) Santo Domingo Church

The Santa Domingo Church, or Iglesia de Santo Domingo, was built in the 1580s by the Dominicans, who had arrived to the area in 1541. It features a beautiful chapel with fine decorations, altar pieces, statues and paintings. The founders of the Quito school of painting were responsible for this church's decoration, and there is now a museum in the church where wonderful Quito sculptures and splendid nativity scene are displayed.
Teatro Bolívar

7) Teatro Bolívar

Teatro Bolivar is located in the heart of the historical quarter of Quito. It has a capacity of 2500 people and for a long time it was the biggest theater in the country hosting some important cultural events.
Plaza del Teatro

8) Plaza del Teatro

The Plaza del Teatro is a small traditional square in the historic center of Quito that was formerly the site of a market, bullring and a slaughterhouse. The Teatro Nacional Sucre is its main landmark today. The theater is designed very beautifully, with a neoclassical facade on a baroque style building. There are many arches, columns and amazing statues to be seen outside the theater.
Museo Camilo Egas

9) Museo Camilo Egas

Camilo Egas was a famous Ecuadorian artist and teacher. Having studied in Rome, Madrid and Paris, he was well known as far afield as Europe and North America. His works have been displayed in some of the world's most prestigious galleries. The Museum of Camilo Egas in Quito displays his art in a small, beautiful building from colonial times. His amazing must see works were influenced by all of the modern art schools, from expressionism to surrealism to cubism. The main theme running through his work centered on the Andean indigenous peoples of Ecuador and surrounding countries.

Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 9am–5pm, Sat–Sun and holidays: 10am–4pm.
Plaza de Garcia

10) Plaza de Garcia

Quito's main square, the Plazza de la Basilica, is most notable for The Basilica del Voto Nacional, also known simply as "the Basilica". Like Notre Dame in Paris, this majestic church is set on a hill, and can be admired from anywhere in the city. First built in 1883, improvements continue to be made to the church to this day. Its towers are the tallest in the country. The Basilica is especially beautiful at night, when it is illuminated in several colors. Don't leave Quito without seeing this amazing house of worship.
Observatorio Astronómico

11) Observatorio Astronómico

The Observatorio Astronómico is situated inside the beautiful traditional park known as Parque La Alameda. Built in 1873, the astronomic facilities inside this observatory are a great attraction for both locals and tourists. Here you will also see statues of the members of the French Geodesic Expedition, who came to Quito to measure the meridian line in the 19th Century. There's also a lake and many other great monuments, plus fantastic fountains that are illuminated at night.
Mariscal Artisans Market

12) Mariscal Artisans Market

The Mariscal Artisans Market is the best place to buy arts and crafts of both good quality and fair prices, as you can bargain for products here. The stalls have great accessories and gifts to take home like the locally-made alpaca sweaters and famous "Panama hats", which actually come from Ecuador.

Hours: Monday- Saturday: 9 am- 7 pm; Sunday: 9 am- 6 pm.

Walking Tours in Quito, Ecuador

Create Your Own Walk in Quito

Create Your Own Walk in Quito

Creating your own self-guided walk in Quito is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Historical Religious Buildings Tour

Historical Religious Buildings Tour

A former Spanish colony, Quito is home to literally dozens of Catholic churches. The Spaniards brought their faith with them to Ecuador and built many fantastic churches and cathedrals, one of which pre-dates even the city itself. Take our Religious Sites Walking Tour to see to the most magnificent and impressive houses of worship in the city.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Museums Tour

Museums Tour

San Francisco de Quito, or Quito for short, is the capital of Ecuador. The city is home to a range of different museums that give a great insight into the history of Ecuador and its people. The most important centers deal with colonial history, an era that left a strong mark on contemporary Ecuador. Take our Museums Walking Tour to catch the best museums with collections to educate and entertain...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 Km or 3 Miles