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Quito, volcanoes and the middle of the world

Victor Gouvêa

Fernanda Frazão

In Quito, it is possible to be at the center of the world geographically and symbolically. The historic city center offers clues as to its relevance in Spanish America and, starting in April 2019, the capital will have four more flights run by LATAM arriving from Santiago every week.

 

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Calle La Ronda

The golden carvings of the Iglesia de la Compañía continue to amaze visitors, and this has been the case ever since construction began on the church in 1605. Located one block away, Plaza de la Independencia is lined with important buildings such as the Palacio de Carondelet, home to the federal government, which can be visited. Wandering the narrow little streets of the city center, one can really picture residents of Old Quito walking around, especially on La Ronda, the oldest street of all.

 

Located across from the equally historic Plaza de San Francisco, the restaurant inside the hotel Casa Gangotena brings us back to the present, rejuvenating traditional recipes. The house of fashionista Olga Fisch is another experience that shouldn’t be missed – the Hungarian-American immigrant stowed an unparalleled collection of Ecuadorian folk art there. On a nice day, the green grass in Parque Itchimbia invites passersby to stretch out and watch the sunset, and many couples do. Hang out there and see the city turn its lights on, with attention to the gothic Basílica del Voto Nacional. Quito is filled with pride to be right at the center of the planet.

 

Iglesia de la Compañía: Benalcázar, N3-70

Palacio de Carondelet: García Moreno N10-43

Casa Gangotena: Bolivar, OE6-41

Olga Fisch: Colon, E10-53

 

Land of volcanoes

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Cotopaxi Volcano

You don’t even have to leave Quito to start exploring Ecuador’s volcanoes. For example, Pichincha, which stands 4,265 feet [1,300 m] tall, can be easily reached by aerial tramway, and it boasts a fantastic view of the city. But, of the over 40 known volcanoes in Ecuador, Cotopaxi reigns supreme. Accessed by a road that passes between two chains of the Andes, it has been active since 2015. Andean birds fly peacefully, ignoring the ashes expelled from the top of the 19,347-foot [5,897 m] volcano. The locals know: it must be respected. This is why it’s prohibited to go up until it’s able to receive visits (but you can admire it from a distance). At times timid, hidden among clouds that blend in with the snow, at others a show-off, the tempestuous Cotopaxi deserves all the honors.