San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains. With a population of 2,197,698 according to the last census (2001), and, as estimated by the municipality, approximately 2,504,991 in 2005, Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil. It is also the capital of the Pichincha province and the seat of Metropolitan District of Quito. The canton recorded a population of 1,842,201 residents in the 2001 national census. In 2008, the city was designated as the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations.
The elevation of the city's central square (Plaza de La Independencia or Plaza Grande) is 2,800 metres (9,200 ft), making Quito the second-highest administrative capital city in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia), and the highest legal capital (ahead of Sucre, also in Bolivia, and Bogotá, Colombia).
The central square of Quito is located about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of the equator; the city itself extends to within about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of zero latitude. A monument and museum marking the general location of the equator is known locally as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the world), to avoid confusion, as the word ecuador is Spanish for equator.
Quito, along with Kraków, were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978.
Quito's origins date back to the first millennium, when the Quitu tribe occupied the area and eventually formed a commercial center. According to Juan de Velasco's 1767 book Historia del Reino de Quito, the Quitu were conquered by the Caras tribe, who founded the Kingdom of Quito about 980 AD. For more than four centuries under the kings (shyris).
Caras and their allies were narrowly defeated in the epic battles of Tiocajas and Tixán in 1462, by an army of 250,000 led by Túpac Inca, the son of the Emperor of the Incas. After several decades of consolidation, the Kingdom of Quito became integrated into the Incan Empire. In 1534, the Caras/Quitu people were conquered by the Spanish.
Capilla del hombre quito is a museum in Quito, constructed to resemble a pre-Columbian temple. Sadly, it is still unfinished due to the artist dying.
Indigenous resistance to the Spanish invasion continued during 1534, with Diego de Almagro founding Santiago de Quito (in present day Cola, near Riobamba) on August 15, 1534, later to be renamed San Francisco de Quito on August 28, 1534. The city was later moved to its present location and was refounded on 6 December 1534 by 204 settlers led by Sebastián de Benalcázar, who captured Rumiñahui and effectively ended any organized resistance. Rumiñahui was then executed on January 10, 1535. On March 14, 1541, Quito was declared a city and on February 14, 1556, was given the title Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de San Francisco de Quito ("Very Noble and Loyal City of San Francisco of Quito"). In 1563, Quito became the seat of a royal audiencia (administrative district) of Spain and became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru with its capital in Lima .
As with other places colonized by the Christian Spanish invaders, the colonizers promptly established Roman Catholicism in Quito. The first church (El Belén) was in fact built even before the city had been officially founded. In January 1535, the San Francisco Convent was constructed, the first of about 20 churches and convents built during the colonial period. The Spanish forcibly converted the indigenous population to Christianity and used them as slave labor for construction. The Diocese of Quito was established in 1545 and was elevated to the Archdiocese of Quito in 1849.
In 1809, after nearly 300 years of Spanish colonization, Quito was a city of about 10,000 inhabitants. On August 10, 1809, a movement was started in Quito that aimed for political independence from Spain. On that date, a plan for government was established that placed Juan Pío Montúfar as president with various other prominent figures in other positions of government. However, this initial movement was ultimately defeated on August 2, 1810, when Imperial troops came from Lima, Peru, and killed the leaders of the uprising along with about 200 inhabitants of the city. A chain of conflicts concluded on May 24, 1822, when Antonio José de Sucre, under the command of Simón Bolívar, led troops into the Battle of Pichincha. Their victory marked the independence of Quito and the surrounding areas.
Just days after the Battle of Pichincha, on May 24, 1822, the leaders of the city proclaimed their independence and allowed the city to be annexed to the Republic of Gran Colombia. Simón Bolívar went to Quito on June 16, 1822, and was present at the signing of the Colombian Constitution on June 24, 1822. When the Gran Colombia dissolved in 1830, Quito became the capital of the newly formed Republic of Ecuador.
In 1833, members of the Society of Free Inhabitants of Quito were assassinated by the government after they conspired against it, and on March 6, 1845, the Marcist Revolution began. Later, in 1875, the country's president, Gabriel García Moreno, was assassinated in Quito. Two years later, in 1877, Archbishop José Ignacio Checa y Barba was killed by poisoning while he was giving mass.
In 1882, insurgents arose against the regime of dictator Ignacio de Veintemilla. However, this did not end the violence that was occurring throughout the country. On July 9, 1883, the liberal commander Eloy Alfaro participated in the Battle of Guayaquil, and later, after more conflict, became the president of Ecuador on September 4, 1895. Upon completing his second term in 1911, he moved to Europe. When he returned to Ecuador in 1912 and attempted a return to power, he was arrested on January 28, 1912; thrown in prison; and assassinated by a mob that had stormed the prison. His body was dragged through the streets of Quito to a city park, where it was burned.
In 1932, the Four Days' War broke out. This was a civil war that followed the election of Neptalí Bonifaz and the subsequent realization that he carried a Peruvian passport. Workers at a major textile factory went on strike in 1934, and similar unrest continues to the present day. On February 12, 1949, a realistic broadcast of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds led to citywide panic and the deaths of more than twenty people who died in fires set by mobs.
Ecuador in the 21st Century
From the start of the 21st century, the city's population has grown to 2,397,698 people, concentrated mostly in the southern part of the city. Since 2002, the city has begun renewing its historical center and also remodeled the Mariscal Sucre International Airport.
Between 2003 and 2004, the ecologically friendly bus lines of the Metrobus were constructed, traversing the city from the north to the south. Many avenues and roads were extended and enlarged, depressed passages were constructed, and roads were restructured geometrically to increase the flow of traffic.
In recent years, Quito has been the focal point of large demonstrations that led to the ousting of presidents Abdalá Bucaram (February 5, 1997), Jamil Mahuad (January 21, 2000), and Lucio Gutiérrez (April 20, 2005).
Quito is located in the northern highlands of Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin. The city has been built on a long plateau lying on the east flanks of the Pichincha volcano. The valley of Guayllabamba River where Quito lies is flanked by volcanoes, some of them snow-capped, that can be visible from the city on a clear day. Some of the volcanoes on the Central Cordillera (Royal Cordillera), east of Quito, surrounding the Guayllabamba valley are Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Antisana, and Cayambe. Some of the volcanoes of the Western Cordillera, to the west of the Guayllabamba valley, are Illiniza, Atacazo, Pichincha, and Pululahua (which has the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve). Interestingly, Quito is the closest Capital City of a Country to the Equator.
Quito's closest volcano is Pichincha, looming over the western side of the city. Quito is also the only capital in the world to be directly menaced by an active volcano. Pichincha volcano has several summits, among them Rucu Pichincha at 4,700 metres above sea level and Guagua Pichincha at 4,794 metres. Guagua Pichincha is active and being monitored by volcanologists at the geophysical institute of the national polytechnic university. The largest eruption occurred in 1660 when more than 25 centimetres (10 in) of ash covered the city. There were three minor eruptions in the 19th century. The latest eruption was recorded on August 23, 2006, when a few puffs of smoke and a large amount of ash were deposited on the city. Although not devastating, the eruption caused significant disruption of activities, including closing of the international airport. It is unlikely that any serious activity will occur in the near future, and the topography of the volcano is such that, even if a major eruption were to occur, lava flows would head into the almost-unpopulated areas west of the volcano, sparing Quito, which lies to the east.
Activity in other nearby volcanoes also can affect the city. In November 2002, after an eruption in the volcano Reventador, the city was showered with a layer of fine ash particles to a depth of several centimeters.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Quito has a subtropical highland climate. Because of its elevation and its proximity to the equator, Quito has a fairly constant cool climate, with spring-like weather year-round. The average temperature at noon is 18.7 °C (65.7 °F) with a normal night-time low of 9.3 °C (48.7 °F). The annual average temperature is 14.0 °C (57.2 °F). The city experiences only two seasons: dry and wet. The dry season, June through September (4 months), is referred to as summer; the wet season, October through May (8 months), is referred to as winter. Annual precipitation, depending on location, is approximately 1,010 mm (40 in)
Quito is the second most important city to contribute to the national GDP after Guayaquil, and the second highest per capita income after Cuenca. Quito is the highest level of tax collection in Ecuador for tax, exceeding the national 57% per year 2009, currently being the most important economic region of the country, 63 as the latest "study" conducted by the Central Bank of Ecuador. In 2006, the contribution was 18.6% of GDP, generating 4.106 billion dollars, but its value adjudication allows this even bigger GDP reaching gain in real terms 27% 64 of Pib country thanks to contributions from oil production and predial.65 Updated: by 2009 the GDP of Quito was approximately $ 10.65 billion by way of production (19% contribution), 4112 millions of dollars in award (8% of award) and 14.762 billion dollars for total GDP (27% from 8% contract, 19% produced)
TAME, an airline of Ecuador, has its headquarters in Quito.
Quito is governed by a mayor and a 15-member city council. The mayor is elected to a four-year term and can be re-elected. The position also doubles as Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Quito (the canton).
In Ecuador, cantons are subdivided into parishes. These subdivisions are called parishes because they were originally used by the Catholic Church, but, along with the secularization and liberalization of the Ecuadorian state, the political parishes were spun off the ones used by the church. Parishes are called urban if they are within the boundaries of the seat (capital) of their corresponding canton, and rural if they are outside of those boundaries. Inside Quito (the city proper), the way in which the city is subdivided into urban parishes depends on the organizations which use those parishes (e.g., the municipality, the electoral tribunals, the postal service, the Ecuadorian statistics institute). The urban parishes of different types are not necessarily coterminous nor the same in number or name.
As of 2008, the municipality of Quito divided the city into 32 urban parishes. These parishes, which are used by the municipality for administrative purposes, are also known as cabildos since 2001. Since the times of the Metropolitan District of Quito, parishes of this type are also grouped into larger divisions known as municipal zones (zonas municipales). These parishes are as follows:
- Belisario Quevedo
- Centro Histórico
- Comité del Pueblo
- El Condado
- El Inca
- La Argelia
- La Ecuatoriana
- La Ferroviaria
- La Libertad
- La Mena
- Mariscal Sucre
- San Bartolo
- San Juan
Electoral urban parishes are used by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) (until the 2008 Ecuadorian constitution known as Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE)) and by the Tribunal Electoral de Pichincha (TEP) in order to distribute vote ballots and count electoral votes. Unlike rural parishes, urban parishes do not have and do not elect a junta parroquial (parochial committee/junta). Within each of these parishes, there are one or more schools in which elections take place, typically on Sundays. As of the 2009 Ecuadorian referendum, there were 19 urban parishes of this type, as follows:
- El Salvador
- González Suárez
- La Floresta
- La Libertad
- La Magdalena
- La Vicentina
- San Blas
- San Marcos
- San Roque
- San Sebastián
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Prisca
- Villa Flora
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quito divides the city into 167 parishes, which are grouped into 17 zones.
The MetrobusQ network, also known as "Red Integrada de Transporte Público", is the bus rapid transit system running in Quito, and it goes through the city from south to north. It's divided into three sections—the green line (the central trolleybus, known as El Trole), the red line (the north-east Ecovía), and the blue line (the north-west Corridor Central). In addition to the bus rapid transit system, there are many buses running in the city. The buses have both a name and a number, and they have a fixed route. Taxi cabs are all yellow, and they have meters that show the fare. There are nearly 8,800 registered taxicabs.
Although public transportation is the primary form of travel in the city, including fleets of taxis that constantly cruise the roadways, the use of private vehicles has increased substantially during the past decade. Because of growing road congestion in many areas, there are plans to construct a light rail system, which would replace the northern portion of the Trole. It is hoped to begin construction in 2012.
Roads, avenues and streets
Because Quito is about 40 km (24.85 miles) long and 5 km (3.1 miles) at its widest, most of the important avenues of the city extend from north to south. The two main motorways that go from the northern part of the city to the southern are Avenue Oriental (Corridor Periférico Oriental) on the eastern hills that border the city, and Avenue Occidental on the western side of the city on the Pichincha volcano. The street 10 de Agosto also runs north to south through most of the city, running down the middle of it. Because of the hills and the city's curved shape, a grid pattern is extremely difficult to imply. The historic centre of the city is based on a grid pattern, despite the hills, with the streets Venezuela, Chile, García Moreno, and Guayaquil being the most important.
There is a railroad that goes through the southern part of Quito and passes through the Estación de Chimbacalle. It is managed by the Empresa de Ferrocarriles Ecuatorianos (EFE). This form of transport is nowadays used mostly for tourism.
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (IATA airport code: UIO) serves as the city's principal airport for passenger travel and freight. The airport is located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north of the city's centre, within driving distance to the main business center. Because of tall buildings and fog at night, landing from the south is not as easy as at many other airports. The construction of a new airport in the rural parish of Tababela, in the adjacent valley outside the city limits, began in 2006 and will be finished by 2011. The Mariscal Sucre International Airport will then become a big park.
Points of interest
Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic center in the Americas. was, together with the historic centre of Kraków in Poland, the first to be declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 18 September 1978. The Historic Centre of Quito is located in the center south of the capital on an area of three hundred twenty hectares, and is considered one of the most important historic areas in Latin America. Has about 130 monumental constructions (which hosts a variety of pictorial art and sculpture, mostly of religious inspired in a multi-faceted range of schools and styles) and five thousand properties registered in the municipal inventory of heritage properties. Unfortunately for several years has been somewhat neglected, which contributed to the deterioration of many of its buildings and surrounding streets to see invaded by informal trade. This not only played down beauty but also contributed to the sector has become unsafe. But now everything has changed thanks to the program that the Corporation of Development of the Historic Center is pushing to return to this place its glory of past years.
Walking through the historic centre of Quito today, now that it has been almost completely recovered, has again become a pleasant experience. The Corporation of Development of the Historic Center, is responsible for the restoration and conservation of churches, streets and plazas of this place. It has implemented several tourist sites that invite to visit the Historic Center on a trip to the past, which is not only tourism but also educational. To this end, members of the Municipal Police have been trained to serve as guides in those tours. At night, when the lights turn on in the city one can stroll through downtown in a horse-drawn carriage in the colonial style. In the Plaza de la Independencia (also known as Plaza Grande) is the Palacio de Carondelet, the seat of the Presidency of the Republic.
Basílica del Voto Nacional.
This monumental basilica is the most important neo-Gothic architecture in Ecuador and one of the most representative of the American continent, which at the time is the largest in the New World. It is located in the downtown of the city of Quito, in the streets Carchi and Venezuela next to the Convent of los padres Oblatos. This religious church was built to commemorate the consecration of the Ecuadorian State to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, held under the presidency of Gabriel García Moreno in 1873. It is 115 m high and consists of 24 internal chapels representing the provinces of Ecuador. This sanctuary was inaugurated and blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ecuador on 18 January 1985.
The Metropolitan Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral, due its location in the heart of the historic city and its status as the main church of the city, is one of the largest religious symbols of spiritual value for the Catholic community in the city. This church began its construction in 1562, seventeen years after the diocese of Quito was created (1545). The church building was completed in 1806, during the administration of President of the Real Audiencia Baron Héctor de Carondelet.
One of the events that took place in this cathedral was the murder of the Bishop of Quito, José Ignacio Checa y Barba, who during the mass of Good Friday on 30 March 1877 was poisoned with strychnine dissolved in the consecrate wine. The cathedral is also the burial place of the remains of the Grand Marshall Antonio José de Sucre and also of several presidents of the Republic, as well as of bishops and priests who died in the diocesis. The cathedral is located on the south side of the Plaza de La Independencia.
Church of La Compañía de Jesús
The Church of La Compañía began its construction in 1605, it took 160 years to be built. For 1765 the work was completed with the construction of the facade. This was done by Native Americans who carefully shaped the Baroque style in one of the most complete examples of this art in the Americas. For 1767 the church was closed because of the expulsion of the Jesuits in Ecuador. Forty years later in 1807, was reopened by the Chilean Friar Camilo Henríquez, of the order of Buenamuerte, who later took part in the fights for independence of his country.
This church is inspired by the Church of the Gesu in Rome, Italy. The columns are a copy of those made by Bernini in the Vatican. Inside, it has altarpieces and pulpits covered with gold leaf. In the altarpiece, designed by Legarda, has taken over as the main reason for the composition of the facade the twisted columns and the cornices that stretch to the center in arch, and has become complete the colorful set, in a crown supported by angels. The church is located between the streets García Moreno and Antonio José de Sucre. 140 years after the earthquake that destroyed the bell tower of the Church of la Compañía de Jesús, the Municipality of Quito began re-building the bell tower of 45 meters, which have the same characteristics with which it had before.
Church of San Francisco
San Francisco, is the largest of the existing architectural ensembles in the historic centres of cities in Latin America. The construction of the church began in 1550, on land adjacent to the plaza where the Native Americans engaged in the barter of products.
The church is located at the intersection of Benalcázar, Bolívar, Sucre and Cuenca. Is one block ahead of the church of La Compañía de Jesús.
Church of El Sagrario
In colonial times, the Church of El Sagrario was one of the largest architectural bastions of Quito. The construction of the Italian Renaissance style and built in the late 17th century, has a screen that stand its sculptures and decorations. This structure was built by Bernardo de Legarda. Its central arch leads to a dome decorated with frescoes of biblical scenes featuring archangels, work by Francisco Albán. The altarpiece was gilded by Legarda. It is located on Calle García Moreno, near the Cathedral.
Church of Santo Domingo
Although arrived in Quito in 1541, recently in 1580 the Dominicans started to build his temple, with plans and direction of Francisco Becerra. The total work completed in the first half of the 17th century. Inside the church are valuable structures, such as the neo-Gothic main altar was placed in the late 19th century by Italian Dominicans. The roof of the Mudéjar style church, with paintings of martyrs of the Order of Saint Dominic. The roof of the nave is composed of a pair and knuckle frame, coated inside by pieces of tracery. In the Museum located on the north side of the lower cloister, are wonderful pieces of great Quito sculptors such as, the Saint Dominic de Guzmán by Father Carlos, the Saint John of God by Caspicara, and the Saint Thomas Aquinas by Legarda. Other of the 18th century Baroque monument that stands is the Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, which is a stronghold of the architecture of Quito. This chapel was built beside the church, in the gospel side. In this was founded the largest fraternity in the city of Quito.
El Panecillo is a hill located in the middle west of the city at an altitude of about 3,016 metres (9,895 ft) above sea level. A monument to the Virgin Mary is located on top of El Panecillo and is visible from most of the city of Quito. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a 41 metres (135 ft)–tall aluminum monument of a madonna, which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo. Made of approximately 7,000 pieces of aluminum, the monument was inaugurated on March 28, 1976, by the 11th archbishop of Quito, Cardinal Pablo Muñoz Vega.
La Mariscal Sucre in Quito has earned the nickname "Gringolandia" because of its popularity with western tourists. While lacking in major tourist attractions, it is home to a number of clubs, bars and restaurants that cater to visitors. There are also many travel agents that specialize in western travel.
Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua is the largest urban park in South America at 1,376 acres (5.5 km²) (as reference, New York's Central Park is 843 acres (341 ha). The park is located in northern Quito, on the hill of Bellavista behind Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa. The park is suited for mountain biking, walking, and running. Most of it is eucalyptus forest with trails, but there also are numerous sculptures on display. The park has four sites that can be used for picnics or barbecues, and the eastern section has a view of Cotopaxi, Antisana, and the Guayllabamba river basin.
La Carolina is a 165.5-acre (670,000 m²) park in the centre of the Quito main business area, bordered by the avenues Río Amazonas, de los Shyris, Naciones Unidas, Eloy Alfaro, and de la República. This park started from the expropriation of the farm La Carolina in 1939. The design of the park was made by the Dirección Metropolitana de Planificación Territorial (DMPT). Pope John Paul II headed a great mass in the park during his visit to Ecuador in 1985. A giant cross has been built in this place.
La Carolina more or less resembles New York City's Central Park, since both La Carolina and Central Park are surrounded by tall buildings in relation to the area of both parks.
El Ejido is the third-largest park of Quito (after Metropolitan and La Carolina), and it divides the old part of the city from the modern one. This park is known for handicrafts available for sale every Saturday and Sunday, with all pricing subject to negotiation (that is, haggling). Local painters sell copies of paintings by Oswaldo Guayasamín, Eduardo Kingman, and Gonzalo Endara Crow. Otavaleños sell traditional sweaters, ponchos, carpets, and jewelry.
The long triangular La Alameda is located at the beginning of street Guayaquil, where the historic centre begins. It has an impressive monument of Simón Bolivar at the apex. There are several other interesting monuments in this park. In the centre of the park is the Quito Observatory, which was opened by President García Moreno in 1873 and is the oldest observatory in Latin America. It is used for both meteorology and astronomy. At the north end of the park are two ornamental lakes, where rowboats can be rented.
The Aerial tramway Station at Cruz Loma (part of the Pichincha mountain complex at about 4,000 metres (13,000 ft)). Since July 2005, Quito has had an aerial tramway, known as the "Telefériqo", from the city centre to the hill known as Cruz Loma on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. The ride takes visitors to an altitude of about 4,100 metres (13,500 ft) where they find a number of restaurants, coffee shops, and a variety of stores. There are also trails for hiking and areas where pictures can be taken of Quito. Because of the increased altitude and the wind on the mountain, it is considerably cooler.
Besides the aerial tramway to Cruz Loma, the Telefériqo as a whole is a visitor centre that includes an amusement park (Vulqano Park), fine-dining restaurants, Go Karts, Paint Ball, shopping malls, an extensive food court, and other attractions.
Outside the city
La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) is a small village administered by the prefecture of the province of Pichincha, 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Quito. The village features a large monument, built on the site where the equator was thought to have crossed in the early 1980s. There is also a museum that contains a model of Quito, a planetarium, various exhibits, several restaurants, an open arena that is occasionally used for folkloric-dance performances, and a small chapel where couples can marry with one spouse standing in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern. It has since been determined, with the use of Global Positioning System technology, that the actual equator is some 240 metres (790 ft) north of the monument area.
Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, located a few miles northwest from La Mitad del Mundo, contains the Pululahua volcano, whose caldera (crater) is visible from a spot easily accessible by car. It is believed to be one of only a few in the world with human inhabitants.
Quito Zoo, located near the rural parish of Guayllabamba, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) outside Quito, has the biggest collection of native fauna in Ecuador, including several kinds of animals that are sometimes targeted in Ecuador in the illegal fur trade. The Zoo works in conservation and education in Ecuador and has successfully bred the endangered Andean condor.
Some of the other nearby natural attractions are:
- Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve conservation and bird watching lodge
- Cayambe - Coca Ecological Reserve - Papallacta & Oyacachi thermal springs
- Cotopaxi National Park
- Mindo Nambillo cloud forest
- Illiniza volcano
- Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge
- Pichincha (Rucu & Guagua) volcanoes