Quito was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an ancient Inca city, located 2,850 metres above sea level, and is the city with the most extensive, best preserved and least altered historic centre in Latin America. These attributes led to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 8 September 1978, as well as National Heritage of Ecuador.
The historic centre of Quito covers 304 hectares and is home to 32 museums, 24 churches, 6 chapels, 7 convents, 6 monasteries, 13 squares and other places of interest. This part of the city preserves the majority of its original colonial structure, as well as various civil and religious buildings from the period which, despite modern urban development, have remained faithful to their origins, respecting the city’s history and tradition. The Quito Cathedral with its imposing domes, the Church of the Society of Jesus with its dazzling interior, and the Basilica of the National Vow which stuns all who visit it, are proof of this.
UNESCO also highlighted the value of the city’s landscape, as the historic centre extends along the slopes of the Pichincha volcano and is bordered by the Panecillo and Itchimbía hills, which, together with its incredible architecture, gives the city a unique world image, seamlessly merging the natural landscape with both modern architecture and colonial art.
In 2023, the Capital of the Middle of the World celebrates its 45th anniversary as a World Heritage Site, a distinction that positions it as one of the cities with the world’s best cultural heritage, as well as a must-visit destination for all history, architecture and nature lovers. This makes Quito exemplary in terms of the preservation and promotion of its cultural legacy, which remains intact despite the passage of time.