The city stretches out from the base of lush hillsides and volcanoes.

Lying in the river basin of Guayllabamba on the slopes of Pichincha, a large stratovolcano of the Andes Mountains, the large capital city of Ecuador stretches out at 9,000 feet above sea level. This biologically and diverse city with lush, undulating terrain dates back to the first millennium when the Quitu tribe occupied the area and eventually formed a commercial center. Power passed from the Quitu to the Caras tribe, to the Incas and finally to the Spanish in 1534. Ecuador gained independence from Spain in 1822 and today, Quito is a stunning metropolitan city.

Flanked by volcanoes that are visible on a clear day, Quito is surrounded by a dramatic topography of challenging peaks and beautiful countryside and trails for visitors to explore. The city spans out over a long plateau benefiting from the natural features and providing a home for over 1.3 million people. The famous monument of the Virgin Mary on top of El Panecillo is a famous, dramatic landmark located on a hill in the middle west of the city. This monument is made of 7,000 pieces of aluminum and symbolizes triumph over evil.

The Virgin Mary atop El Panicello is an impressive monument on the hills of Quito.

Other exciting attractions in the city include Metropolitano, the largest urban park in South America made up of lush Eucalyptus forests that are good for mountain biking, walking and running. According to UNESCO, the city possesses the largest, best preserved historic center despite the several earthquakes it has endured. This beautiful city center offers a plethora of history, and fun and exciting destinations, shopping and restaurants. Several striking churches, cathedrals and basilicas are scattered throughout the city.

Visit this historic and culturally rich city on all of our Ecuador and Galapagos adventures.