Quito was a short jaunt from our temporary home in Riobamba, where we worked at the local hospitals and clinics for a month during our third year of medical school. We spent a weekend in the capital city exploring the quaint old town and various other city highlights.
Our first priority while in Quito was Otavalo Market. It is a world renowned artisan market selling local wares such as handmade textiles, ceramic, silver and leather. After perusing the goods, we stumbled upon a plethora of fruits, vegetables, and animals. The live chickens dangling by their scaly legs were quite entertaining.
We then headed to a national landmark, La Ciudad Mitad del Mundo. This monument is a small tract of land on the exact latitude of the equator, therefore the “middle of the world.” The monument was built between 1979 and 1982 to commemorate the first Geodesic Mission of the French Academy of Sciences. The members of the mission performed experiments in 1736 to determine the shape of the earth.
We spent the rest of our weekend in town meandering along the narrow streets of Quito’s Old Town. We admired various architectural beauties such as La Iglesias de La Compania de Jesus, the Church and Convent of St. Francis, and the Palacio de Gobierno.
We had heard about the Teleferico before coming and were determined to ride it, despite the crazy fog that hovered over the city. The hazy views were still worth the ride as the sprawling city below was breathtaking.
The Basilica del Voto Nacional is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the heart of Quito. It was built in 1887. The basilica remains technically unfinished, and local lore says that when the basilica is completed, armageddon will come. This cathedral is unique in that you can walk along the catwalk leading to the roof for fantastic views of the city.
My favorite part of Quito was touring La Capilla del Hombre. It is a unique art museum dedicated to the peoples of Latin America. It highlights Guayasamin’s art as a history of human suffering and violence in Latin America. The pieces were incredibly moving and captivating.
Quito was the perfect destination for our final weekend in Ecuador before we headed on to Peru to hike Machu Picchu. The architecture, cathedrals, and cobbled streets reminded me of European towns that I so love, and we enjoyed learning more about the culture and history of Ecuador.