Industrial city, capital of Ecuador and of Pichincha province; situated on a plateau in the Andes, 22 km/14 mi south of the Equator, at an altitude of 2,850 m/9,350 ft; population (2001) 1,399,400. Industries include textiles, chemicals, leather, gold, silver, pharmaceuticals, and motor vehicles. Quito lies at the foot of the volcano Pichincha (4,794 m/15,728 ft), which last erupted in 1666, in an area prone to earthquakes. It has a temperate climate all year round. The city, which is the oldest capital in South America, was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978.
Quito was an ancient Indian settlement, taken by the Incas in about 1470, and became the capital of the Inca Kingdom of Quito until it was captured by the Spaniard Sebastián de Benalcázar in 1534. It was eventually liberated from the Spanish following the Battle of Pichincha in 1822.
Many colonial buildings survive in the old quarter. These include Spanish houses with balconies and fountains, and churches with wooden sculptures. Many display Moorish architectural influences, although their overall style is baroque. The old city has been designated a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, and its buildings include the oldest astronomical observatory (1873) in South America in the Parque Alameda (1596), the 18th-century La Compañía de Jesús Jesuit church, and the church and monastery of La Merced, which has a clock identical to that of Big Ben in London, England. Religious buildings occupy a quarter of the space in the city. The cathedral was built 1550–62. The oldest colonial church in Quito, the Monasterio de San Francisco (1536) and completed 70 years later. The art school, established by Franciscans in 1535, led to the flourishing of religious art throughout the Spanish colonial period. The burial place of South American revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre is here. There are three universities: the Central University (1594), the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (1946), and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (1985). It is the second-highest city in the world after La Paz, Bolivia.
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Full text Article Portrait of Mariana de Carcelen y Larrea, Marquesa of Solanda (Quito, 1805-Quito, 1861), Ecuadorian wife of Grand Marshal of Ayacucho Antonio Jose de Sucre y Alcala (Cumana, 1795-Barruecos, 1830)
Credit: Portrait of Mariana de Carcelen y Larrea, Marquesa of Solanda (Quito, 1805-Quito, 1861), Ecuadorian wife of Grand Marshal of Ayacucho Antoni