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World's Most Expensive
Quito Celebrates its 38th Anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
August 22, 2016
Encompassing 790 acres, Quito's Historic Center is the largest and best preserved of the Americas and consists of 130 monumental buildings, 5,000 heritage buildings, 17 plazas and 53 museums – all of which come together to make up the city's historical and contemporary offering. Quito also spends the most resources of any Latin American city on protecting their tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
The layout of the historical part of the city has not changed in more than 481 years. Visitors can still find the same city structure, streets, endless slopes, stairs, hills and ravines that were there in 1534 when it was founded by the Spanish. UNESCO highlighted this unique aspect of the Historical Center stating that the “actions of man and nature have come together to create a unique and momentous work”.
History is still palpable in every corner of the Historic Center. Ancient pre-Hispanic stones at the base of the Government Palace have indigenous heritage; colonial art can be found in the Metropolitan Cathedral, one of the first churches in Quito; and the Jesuit legacy is still observed at the Metropolitan Cultural Center, which functioned as a university during the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
Other must-see historical activities within this World Heritage Site include: The Church of the Society of Jesus, a Baroque masterpiece in the Americas; the Plaza Grande, the center of important local and national historical exploits; and the Church and Convent of San Francisco.
The Historic Center is considered to be Quito's birthplace and eventually expanded into the metropolitan destination visitors can experience today. Far from being an ordinary place, the Center is a residential, commercial and heritage site where people with diverse backgrounds gather on a daily basis to meet with friends and family or simply commute from one place to the other. Quito's Historical Center houses the essence of the city. The Historic Center is also home to many artisanal families who have kept and passed down the art of ancient trades for generations. Places like La Ronda house artisans who specialize in making handcrafted toys, hats, candy, carved pieces and more.
Gastronomy is also an important part of the heritage of the city. Quito's cuisine is a mixture of flavors, aromas and colors that fuse pre-Hispanic and colonial cultures, and implement contemporary culinary techniques.
Quito also hosts the heritage train, inaugurated in 1908 and considered one of the most important in Latin America for its historical value, linking the mountain ranges with the coast across more than 400 miles of breathtaking landscapes.
The destination's efforts to promote tourism and culture as well as expand its conservation efforts have been highly recognized. Quito was included in the New York Times book “1,000 Places To See Before You Die," and was also acknowledged by Lonely Planet as one of "10 destinations to discover”. Additionally, the destination was named “South America's Leading Destination” by the World Travel Awards for the fourth consecutive year.
These accolades position Quito as an essential destination that combines both history and modern culture, and invites tourists from around the world to experience the city's heritage.
For more information, visit
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