Cultural Tourism in a City Upon a Hill: Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador Turismo

Ecuador’s cultural attractions are beginning to get more attention these days than its pristine Galapagos Islands. They are well known for a segment of tourism known as Natural Tourism and do a great job at sustainable tourism as well. But it is high time for this country to continue to develop cultural activities and highlight the local culture that will help Ecuador expand the numbers and types of tourists that it draws. I believe this is the key: to diversify its attractions to attain a more diversified tourism market.

Cultural Tourism

Quito Turismo: Ecuador Beyond Galapagos

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

Having been named as South America’s Leading Destination in 2014 with the World Travel Awards, it is on a high note to make cultural tourism work. Also in 2014, it was a finalist in the international New 7 Wonders campaign for its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quito ended up finishing in the top 14 but did not move to the next round of 7.  In 1978, UNESCO named Quito one of the first of two World Heritage Cities (the other being Krakow). Quito is the largest and most historically preserved city in all of Latin America’s colonial cities. The city government did nothing but literally, let the city go “downhill”. Finally, some politicians and a few wealthy businessmen decided it was time to bring the city back to life. Now the historic center is full of life with tourists that are staying longer than the obligatory one night en route to the Galápagos. I believe it is on its way to becoming a cultural tourism destination due to its many museums, historic center, cathedrals and rising culinary scene. By continuing to develop cultural activities and cleaning up the city, it will help Quito expand the numbers and types of tourists that it draws.

Cultural Tourism

Quito, Ecuador:  A City Upon A Hill

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Quito is the highest official capital city in the world at 9350 feet and reminded me of a ‘city upon a hill’.  This was a phrase from the parable of Salt and Light in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Seeing this city from upon its many hills, makes me think about the origins of Quito and how this stacked city came into existence.

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

 “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Hill after hill on a local bus I rode and I certainly could not believe my eyes, as the houses were stacked upon houses, so tightly packed that I could barely see through them with their high line wires.

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

I don’t think I have ever seen so many high line wires in my life. I thought the world had gotten rid of those years ago. But not here, they crisscross the city like a crossword puzzle. I was ducking my head on the open air bus many times to make sure I didn’t get hung by one. I am told many of the shops avoid paying for electricity by getting illegal connections. There were dozens of electrical cables on each street that were so intertwined that it looks like a knot that will never be untied.

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

Then, buildings upon buildings. Clutter and old plastic bottles lined the streets. The hustle and bustle of this nation’s capital has many sights, sounds and smells that cultural tourists want to experience.

Cultural Tourism

How Religion of the Region Plays a Roll

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

The Spanish founded modern-day Quito and Guayaquil as part of their political administration era, which lasted until the War of Independence. When the Spanish Conquistadors took over this area, they indoctrinated the indigenous people into the ways of the Catholic Church. As I strolled through the hilled city, the thing that struck me the most was the mass number of Catholic churches in Quito. It is no wonder that the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church today is from Latin America. Every other block had a church on the corner and after a while, I could not even remember the names of them or remember which one was grander than the next.

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism

Quito Turismo and its many Churches

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

Literally, there are so many cathedrals in Quito that you could make an entire trip out of visiting houses of worship.  I found a list of churches in old town Quito.

  1. Basilica Church
  2. Buenaventura & Cantuña Chapels
  3. Cathedral Church
  4. Chapel of the Old San Juan de Dios Hospital
  5. Chapel of the Rosario & Chapel of the Virgin Escalera
  6. El Carmen Alto Church & Convent
  7. El Carmen Bajo Church & Convent
  8. El Sagrario Church
  9. El Tejar Church & Convent
  10. La Compañía Church
  11. La Concepcion Church & Monastery
  12. La Merced Church & Convent
  13. San Agustin Church & Convent
  14. San Blas Plaza
  15. San Diego Church & Convent
  16. San Francisco Church & Convent
  17. San Juan Church & Monastery
  18. San Marcos Church
  19. San Roque Church
  20. Santa Barbara Church
  21. Santa Catalina Church & Monastery
  22. Santa Clara Church & Convent
  23. Santo Domingo Church & Convent

It is quite astonishing the number and I am not even sure that is all of them.

Cultural Tourism

Quito Turismo and its Golden Church

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

There was this one:  Iglesia de La Compania de Jesus, also known as “Quito’s Sistine Chapel.”  That is the one I won’t soon forget. This Jesuit church is a masterpiece of baroque and colonial art with lavish gold altars and gilded columns on the inside, making it one of the most ornate structures in the world. Throughout my travels, I don’t think I have seen one quite so grand and it is definitely a rival of the best 5 I have ever seen! (Including churches in Spain, Italy, France, Austria, and Russia).

Cultural Tourism

Quito Turismo: The Majestic City

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

The term “City upon a Hill” is also influenced by Plato’s Republic and the concept of the “good city” – a city-state that is governed by philosopher kings.  In my mind, Quito is a tall, proud city, a city that is built upon rocks that are stronger than the ocean and even God-blessed.  It has people of all kinds of life. They are living in harmony and peace. The city has a majestic feel to it and yet in reality, it is a city that is struggling to find its financial feet.The people are overworked and underpaid and the reality of the many cathedrals is and was most likely for them to find refuge from the uncertainty and difficulties of their daily life.

Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

Cultural Tourism

Quito Turismo: Getting There

Fortunately, the new airport draws tourists and new routes to its Mariscal Sucre International Airport, located just outside Quito that opened in February 2013. This new airport offers increased capacity, both in the number of flights it can handle as well as the size of the aircraft. Fortunately, it is located safely outside of the residential areas. However, highway infrastructure has lagged and many travelers have encountered delays between Quito city center and the airport.

Cultural Tourism: Quito, Ecuador

Map of Ecuador: Quito to Cuenca and Guayaquil

Cultural Tourism

Cuenca Turismo: Ecuador Beyond Galapagos

Cuenca is another city in Ecuador that is high on the list for cultural tourism. It is also gaining a reputation for its architecture and arts, when combined with its low cost of living and low crime rates is making it a very popular destination among American ex-pats.

Cultural Tourism

Cultural Tourism: Cuenca Ecuador

Recommended Reading:

Cultural Tourism

Cultural Tourism

I won’t go into the details here of Cuenca’s Cultural Tourism aspects, but you can read more about Cuenca here:

Stepping back in Time

The Markets of Cuenca

As well as other articles about Ecuador:

Chordeleg:  A Day Trip from Cuenca

 Ahh! The Foods of Ecuador

Quito: A Visit to the Middle of the World

Montanita, Ecuador:  Out of My Comfort Zone

And about Galapagos:

What is it really like to be on an Ecoventura Yacht in the Galapagos?

Post Office Bay, Floreana, Galapagos

Through the Eyes of a Galapagos Gringa

9 (+1) Reasons You Should Visit The Galapagos Before It’s Too Late

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

 

2018-11-27T12:43:37+00:00

7 Comments

  1. […] Post #7: A City Upon A Hill:  Quito, Ecuador […]

  2. Phyl Doppelt March 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    You have the most amazing photographs – I am in awe. I am visiting Ecuador now, reading your blog and cannot get over how beautifully your images have captured each scene. I am an awful photographer – but i would love to improve. Please tell me what camera you use – and I just know that even with a cheap point and shoot you would take beautiful pictures. I also love the fact that you travel very six weeks – How much time do you spend when you are away ? Would love to know.

    Thanks,
    Phyl.

    • admin March 11, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Phyl
      Unfortunately, I have not always gotten to stay as long as I would have liked. Mostly between 5-12 days max. Now that I have become a full time blogger as of Jan 2014, I can spend a bit more time in each country, but when my kids are finally grown and my husband retired, I would like to do slow travel!
      I have not taken a photography class, I just like to capture the moments I see and also I don’t put people in my photographs unless they ADD to the scene, like someone in uniform or a color that goes along with the theme. Thank you for your compliments!

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  4. […] is famous for its colorful indigenous markets. The most famous of them is in Otavalo, northwest of Quito. There are many indigenous markets in Ecuador, but Otavalo is the most well known […]

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  6. […] Post #7: A City Upon a Hill:  Quito, Ecuador […]

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