Posted by: Merrilee | March 13, 2013

Quito by Night

Quito by Night

A longtime friend and travel companion from Boston has now joined me.  Feeling more secure outside at night in Quito with a man by my side, I have ventured into the streets of the Old Town on balmy evenings recently.

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Quito is the highest capital city in the world at 2800 meters (9350 feet).  Its colonial center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and shines resplendently at night.  As the lights come on, we often sit on weathered benches in the various historic colonial plazas of the Centro Historico (Old Town).  The portico on one side of the Plaza Grande, once the archbishop’s palace, seems to come alive at that time.

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Plaza Santo Domingo is magical when the flood lights light up the church dome of the 17th century Inglesia de Santo Domingo.  Its arch to the side of it glows in the dark.

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Sometimes in the evening when I find an old colonial church with its doors open, I wander in and take in the beauty of the gold-leaf altars.  They look particularly stunning when lit up.    

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One of my favorite things to do on a weekend evening is to stroll with the locals down La Ronda, a narrow, atmospheric street just off Plaza Santo Domingo.  Street vendors, families and revelers fill the cobblestone street as live music spills out of restaurants and bars. Hidden courtyards reveal packed, candle-lit bars.

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Two entrances to the winding street through well-lit tunnels add to the allure of this happening place.  Police presence is strong here, making La Ronda one of the safest places to be strolling outside on a weekend night in the Old Town.

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La Ronda (Ring Road) is lined with 17th century buildings where artists, writers and political figures once resided.  It was an old pre-Colombian trail where indigenous people, mestizos, and Spaniards built their homes for hundreds of years.

One evening as my friend and I were walking along a main street in Old Town, a group of bikers zipped past us on a parallel bike lane.  Every Monday evening 20-50 bike riders spend three hours touring various parts of Quito.

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I shall always remember the sweeping panorama of old town at night viewed from the rooftop terrace of the hostel where I stayed several nights during this trip.  It is only with views like this can one grasp the extent of the beauty of Quito’s Centro Historico by night.

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