Settled since around 8000 BC, the modern city of Quito was established in 1534 by 204 Spanish settlers after they subdued the indigenous resistance. The city flourished through the colonial era, and was the starting point in Ecuador’s war for independence from Spain. Despite having grown into one of the largest cities in the country, Quito’s historic Old Town has remained essentially unchanged. The city’s own unique brand of Baroque architecture, blending European and indigenous art styles, helped it earn UNESCO recognition. The best place to start exploring the Old Town is the Plaza Grande, which is surrounded by amazing colonial buildings like the Presidential Palace and 16th century Metropolitan Cathedral. A few blocks away is the 17th century La Compañía de Jesus, which is one of the most ornate in the country. The Plaza San Francisco is also worth seeking out to see Quito’s oldest church and the stunning Andes views.
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