To make my writing go a little easier, I have copied some excerpts from the Lonely Planet - Ecuador chapter on Quito:
High in the Andes, amid dramatic, mist-covered peaks, Quito is a beautifully located city packed with historical monuments and architectural treasures. It’s Ecuador’s most dynamic city, with a vibrant civic scene and a fascinating collection of neighborhoods. Dining, drinking and merrymaking are all part of the equatorial experience in the world’s second-highest capital.
Quito’s jewel is its historic center, or ‘old town’. A Unesco World Heritage Site, this handsomely restored neighborhood blooms with 17th-century facades, picturesque plazas and magnificent churches that blend Spanish, Moorish and indigenous elements. It’s also home to the Presidential Palace.
The other draw for travelers is the Mariscal Sucre, a compact area of guesthouses, travel agencies, diverse eateries and a pulsing nightlife scene.
The site of the capital city dates from pre- Hispanic times. The early inhabitants of the area were the peaceful Quitu people, who gave their name to the city.
By the time the Spanish arrived in Ecuador in 1526, Quito was a major Inca city.
Rather than allowing it to fall into the hands of the Spanish conquerors, Rumiñahui, a general of Atahualpa, razed the city shortly before their arrival. There are no Inca remains. The present capital was founded atop the ruins by Spanish lieutenant Sebastián de Benalcázar on December 6, 1534.
Colonists arrived, along with a host of religious orders (Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians, among others), building churches, monasteries and public works, often with the labor of indigenous people. Quito grew slowly during the 17th and 18th centuries but remained a backwater in comparison to Lima.
Revolutionary fervor swept through the city in the 19th century, and Quito became the capital of the newly formed Republic of Ecuador in 1830. Population growth and building projects transformed the city over the following century, with a new astronomical observatory (the first in South America) a key rail line to Guayaquil boosting commerce, and other works.
The colonial center remained the commercial heart of the city until the post–WWII years, when the city experienced (as it does now) rapid growth and expansion, fueled in large part by work- seeking immigrants arriving from all parts of Ecuador.
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