Quinta de Juan León Mera

Top choice in Central Highlands

Several famous ambateños (people from Ambato) had quintas that survived the earthquake. They were once considered countryside homes, but today they are right on the edge of this growing city. Admission to the Quinta de Juan León Mera – set on the banks of the Río Ambato in the suburb of Atocha, about 2km northeast of downtown – includes entry to the Casa Museo Martínez-Holguín and La Liria botanic garden on the same site. To get here, take bus 22 for Atocha from Parque Cevallos; a taxi costs about $2.

Mera's house, built in 1874, has period furnishings and wax figures portraying the life and times of the author and politician, who is best known for writing the lyrics to the Ecuadorian national anthem. It sits in the Jardín Botánico La Liria, a lush garden with more than 200 plant species. In the same complex is the Casa Museo Martínez-Holguín, another period quinta formerly owned by relatives of Mera's, an illustrious family of geologists, painters, mountain-climbers, journalists and politicians. Free tours of both museums are offered in Spanish.