Old Town

sights / Architecture

Old Town information

Lonely Planet review

If you're short on time head straight to the old town. It's here that Quito distinguishes itself from all other cities in the world. Be certain to see the Plaza and Monastery of San Francisco, the Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande), La Compañía de Jesús and the Museo de Arte Colonial.

With its narrow streets, restored colonial architecture and lively plazas, Quito's Centro Histórico (aka the old town) is a marvel to wander. Built centuries ago by indigenous artisans and laborers, Quito's churches, convents, chapels and monasteries are cast in legend and steeped in history. It's a bustling area, full of yelling street vendors, ambling pedestrians, tooting taxis, belching buses and whistle-blowing policemen trying to direct traffic in the narrow, congested one-way streets. The area is magical, and one in which the more you look, the more you find.

Churches are open every day (usually until 18:00) but are crowded with worshippers on Sunday. They regularly close between 13:00 and 15:00 for lunch.