Discover Quito’s History: Top Stops on Your Walking Tour

Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is a place where history comes alive. As the first city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978, Quito’s historic center is a well-preserved treasure trove of colonial architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and significant historical landmarks. A free walking tour of Quito offers an immersive experience, allowing visitors to explore its rich history and culture on foot. Here are some key historical sites you shouldn’t miss on your walking tour of Quito.

Plaza Grande (Plaza de la Independencia)

The heart of Quito’s historic center, Plaza Grande is the city’s main square and a vibrant hub of activity. Surrounded by important buildings such as the Presidential Palace (Carondelet Palace), the Cathedral of Quito, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Municipal Palace, the plaza is a perfect starting point for your historical exploration. It has been the focal point of Quito’s social and political life for centuries.

La Compañía de Jesús

Known for its stunning baroque architecture, La Compañía de Jesús is one of the most beautiful churches in Quito. Its construction began in 1605 and took over 160 years to complete. The interior is adorned with gold leaf, elaborate altars, and intricate wood carvings, making it a masterpiece of baroque art in Latin America. The church’s façade and interior reflect the wealth and power of the Jesuit order during the colonial period.

San Francisco Church and Plaza

The San Francisco Church, with its adjoining convent and museum, is another must-visit historical site. This church, completed in 1604, is the oldest and largest of Quito’s colonial structures. The complex includes a beautiful plaza where local vendors sell traditional crafts and snacks. Inside, you’ll find stunning religious art and a rich history tied to Quito’s colonial past.

Basilica del Voto Nacional

While relatively modern compared to other historical sites in Quito, the Basilica del Voto Nacional is a neo-Gothic architectural marvel that should not be missed. Its construction began in the late 19th century and remains technically unfinished, reflecting an old legend. Climbing the basilica’s towers offers breathtaking panoramic views of Quito and a unique perspective on the city’s urban landscape.

Calle La Ronda

Calle La Ronda is one of the oldest streets in Quito, dating back to pre-colonial times. This charming, narrow street is lined with colonial houses, art galleries, cafes, and shops. It is a perfect place to experience the local culture and history, as it has been meticulously preserved to reflect its historical significance. Walking along La Ronda gives visitors a glimpse into the daily life of Quito’s residents throughout history.

Independence Monument

Erected in 1906, the Independence Monument in Plaza Grande commemorates Ecuador’s independence from Spain. This towering column is topped with a statue symbolizing liberty and surrounded by allegorical figures representing the struggle for independence. It serves as a poignant reminder of the country’s fight for freedom and the significance of Quito in Ecuador’s national history.

Museo de la Ciudad

Housed in a former hospital dating back to the 16th century, the Museo de la Ciudad offers a comprehensive look at Quito’s history from pre-Columbian times to the present. The museum’s exhibits cover various aspects of daily life, culture, and significant events in Quito’s history, making it an educational and enriching stop on your walking tour.

El Panecillo

For a panoramic view of Quito and a deeper historical context, a visit to El Panecillo is essential. This hill is crowned by a statue of the Virgin Mary and offers sweeping views of the city. The site has historical significance dating back to pre-Columbian times when it was a worship place for the indigenous Quitu people. Today, it provides a perfect vantage point to appreciate the layout and beauty of Quito’s historic center.


Walking through Quito’s historic center is like stepping back in time. Each site tells a story, from the colonial grandeur of its churches and plazas to the vibrant culture of its streets. A free walking tour of Quito offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore these key historical sites, providing a deeper understanding of the city’s rich heritage and its enduring charm. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, Quito’s historic center promises a memorable journey through time.

Unraveling the Stories of Plaza Grande: A Journey Through Quito’s Historic Heart

Nestled within the vibrant heart of Quito’s historic center lies Plaza Grande, a bustling square brimming with history, culture, and the pulse of Ecuadorian life. As the beating heart of the city, Plaza Grande offers visitors a glimpse into Quito’s rich heritage, where colonial architecture, vibrant markets, and the rhythm of everyday life converge. Join us on a journey through this iconic plaza as we uncover its secrets and stories.

A Tapestry of History

Plaza Grande, also known as Plaza de la Independencia, serves as a living testament to Quito’s storied past. Originally built by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, the square has witnessed centuries of political upheaval, social change, and cultural evolution. From the grandeur of colonial rule to the struggles for independence and beyond, Plaza Grande stands as a silent witness to the ebb and flow of history.

Architectural Marvels

Surrounding Plaza Grande are some of Quito’s most iconic architectural landmarks, each with its own unique story to tell. The Presidential Palace, with its stately façade and towering columns, serves as the seat of Ecuador’s government and is open to visitors for guided tours. Nearby, the Metropolitan Cathedral, with its stunning neoclassical architecture and ornate interior, offers a glimpse into Ecuador’s religious heritage.

Vibrant Culture and Traditions

Step into Plaza Grande on any given day, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the vibrant tapestry of Ecuadorian culture. Artisans peddle their wares in colorful markets, selling everything from handcrafted textiles to intricate wood carvings. Musicians fill the air with the melodies of Andean folk music, while street performers captivate passersby with their mesmerizing performances. For a taste of local cuisine, visitors can sample traditional delicacies from food stalls and eateries dotted around the square.

Exploring the Surroundings

Beyond Plaza Grande, the historic center of Quito beckons with a wealth of attractions waiting to be explored. Embark on a free walking tour of the neighborhood, led by knowledgeable guides who will regale you with tales of the city’s past and present. Wander through narrow cobblestone streets lined with colonial-era buildings, visit ornate churches adorned with gold leaf, and browse bustling markets brimming with souvenirs and local treasures.


As the sun sets over Plaza Grande, casting golden hues upon its ancient cobblestones, one cannot help but feel a sense of reverence for this historic square. Whether you come to soak in its architectural splendor, immerse yourself in Ecuadorian culture, or simply watch the world go by, Plaza Grande offers a glimpse into the soul of Quito and the spirit of Ecuador.