Home > Ecuador > Enjoying Quito by night (Part 1)

Enjoying Quito by night (Part 1)

Quito, the magnificent and historic capital of Ecuador, has entirely different faces during the daylight hours and on the evenings.  We had seen daytime Quito earlier and now we are on our way to a night’s outing to see the moonlit and electrically illuminated face of the city…. Leaving the Hotel in the northern and more modern, residential and business neighborhoods, our driver Carlos heads to the Historic center of the city.  Without the busy day traffic, and with the natural and artificial illumination, the city looks quite different, samples of ancient charm are installed everywhere, under the lights…..

We drive past the old Park of La Alameda, with the centenary Astronomical Observatory with its yellow cylindrical shaped buildings and then past the small and extremely pretty colonial square of San Blas with its small colonial church and street lamps.  The ornamental illumination gives the old city a special touch of magic… We climb up the steep Carchi street, past the National Basilica, a grandiose neo-gothic Cathedral, which looks even prettier and more monumental, under the purple and yellow spotlights; its animal-shaped gargoyles looking more mysterious than earlier…  Almost ready to touch the sky (or the summit of Mount Pichincha..) we take a left turn and suddenly the immensity of Quito, shining under millions of twinkling lights, unfolds before our eyes.. Maria Teresa, Ivan and Yoko stand there in awe, while I try to point out to them the most important churches, convents and squares of the city’s Historic Center.  We are atop the San Juan Hill and directly across from us is the Itchimbia Hill, with its Crystal Palace also magnificently illuminated.  Both locations are claimed to had been, in Pre-Columbian times, observatories and temples dedicated to the Moon.  In between the two, just a short distance to the south, stands the Panecillo Hill (formerly Yavirac, in the idigenous language), higher in elevation and reputed to had been the main temple to the Sun God in ancient times.  Currently the famous hill features on its summit a gigantic statue of the Virgin Mary, the Winged Virgin of Quito, presiding over the city….. The moon did not want to miss the view on this pleasant and clear night and shows up, almost over the Itchimbia Hill, while millions of stars seem to have congregated over the capital of Ecuador…..

Now we descend the narrow and colonial Garcia Moreno Street, heading for  Independence Square…. Here we leave the van and start a short walk, exploring the charm of Quito’s Colonial Centre by night… Independence Square is the historic heart of the city and appears glorious under the blue, green and orange ornamental lights, which highlight magically the historic buildings around the Square: the 16th Century Presidential Palace, the four centuries old Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito; the Archbishop’s Palace and the City Hall.  In the center, the column to the Heroes of Independence stands to proclaim that Quito was the first city in the Americas to lead and stage the first revolution against the three centuries of Spanish dominion… Horse-pulled carriages take tourists and locals (especially couples on a romantic outing) past the centuries old churches, convents, squares and monuments, gently galloping over the cobble stoned narrow streets… Every angle shows a new and more fascinating sight. Rather than a city, it all looks more like a giant stage, carefully mounted to provide the setting for some glorious event… well, the glorious event of life… for the fortunate residents and visitors who can enjoy all the magnificence of Quito, the earth’s first World Heritage Site City, declared so by the UNESCO, in 1978… Maria Teresa, Ivan and Yoko combine moments of loud cheering and laughter, prompted by the unique ambiance and sights, with minutes of silence, to appreciate every architectonic detail, the natural or man-designed décor of this outstanding stage… As we walk towards Sucre street, outdoor musicians play accordions, guitars and violins…. It is all fascinating, charming and awe-inspiring….. The second part of this night outing in Quito, will be continued next week…..

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