20 Fun Facts About Quito, Ecuador That You Might Not Know

aerial view of city buildings during daytime

Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a fascinating city with a long history and vibrant culture. Sitting high in the Andes Mountains, Quito offers stunning views and great opportunities for adventure. If you’re planning a trip to Ecuador, Quito is a must-visit destination.

To get you excited about exploring this amazing city, here are 20 fun facts about Quito you might not know:

1. Quito is the Highest Capital City in the World

At 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level, Quito holds the title as the highest official capital city in the world. The high elevation provides Quito with spring-like weather year-round and spectacular views of surrounding volcanoes and mountains.

2. Quito Was Founded in 1534

The city was founded on December 6, 1534, by Spanish conquistador Sebastian de Benalcázar. He named it San Francisco de Quito after the local Quitu tribe who originally inhabited the area. Throughout its history, Quito has been the center of social, political, and cultural life in Ecuador.

3. It’s Located Right on the Equator

Quito lies just 22 kilometers (14 miles) south of the equator, which passes through Ecuador. You can visit the monument and museum at the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the Earth) just north of the city center to see where the equator crosses through.

4. Quito Has the Largest Historic District in the Americas

Quito’s historic center was one of the first sites ever designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Spread over 320 hectares, it’s the largest and best-preserved historic district in the Americas. The area contains over 130 notable monuments, including Plaza Grande and the Cathedral of Quito.

5. It’s Home to the Oldest Observatory in South America

On the outskirts of Quito sits the Quito Astronomical Observatory, founded in 1873. It’s the oldest astronomical observatory in South America. The museum houses an impressive collection of old astronomical equipment and offers engaging exhibits on astronomy, physics, and Ecuadorian indigenous cosmology.

6. Quito Has 13 Twin Cities Around the World

Some of Quito’s many twin/sister cities around the world include Bogotá (Colombia), Kraków (Poland), Algiers (Algeria), and Madrid (Spain). These partnerships were made to promote cultural and commercial ties between the cities.

7. The Architecture Mixes Indigenous and European Styles

As you explore Quito’s historic district, you’ll notice the architecture seamlessly blends indigenous art and construction with European influences. The large ornamental facades and interior patios are some examples of this fusion.

8. There are Over 50 Churches to Discover

Thanks to Quito’s rich Catholic history, the city contains an impressive number of ornate churches, monasteries, and chapels. Some of the most famous and beautiful churches include La Compañía de Jesús, San Francisco Church, and the Basilica del Voto Nacional.

9. Quito Has the Famous “Middle of the World” Monument

Located just north of Quito is the 30-meter-tall monument marking the equator line running through Ecuador. At the interactive Intiñan Solar Museum next to the monument, you can try fun science experiments only possible on the equator.

10. The Climate is Spring-Like Year Round

Despite its location in the tropics, Quito’s high elevation gives it cool, spring-like weather throughout the year. The average annual temperature is around 57°F (14°C). The city only experiences two seasons – dry and wet.

11. Quito is Surrounded by Volcanoes

The Quito metropolitan area sits in a valley surrounded by numerous volcanoes, including Guagua Pichincha to the west and Cotopaxi to the south. Guagua Pichincha is still active and previously erupted in 1999 and 2002.

12. Traditional Handicrafts Abound

Some of Ecuador’s finest handicrafts come from Quito artisans. You can find colorful textiles, ceramic pottery, embroidered clothing, wood carvings, and much more. The Old Town has lots of great galleries and markets to shop for authentic handicrafts.

The stunning landscape around Quito offers limitless opportunities for outdoor adventure! You can go mountain biking, hiking, climbing, horseback riding, rafting, zip lining, and more. Popular nearby places include Pululahua Crater and the Cotopaxi Volcano.

14. Quito Has Excellent Museums

Some of the top museums in Quito include the Museo Nacional del Ecuador (National Museum), Casa del Alabado (Pre-Columbian Art Museum), Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum), and the Museo Carmen Alto (Archeology and Ethnography Museum).

15. The Street Food is Amazing

Quito is full of excellent and affordable street food. Some Ecuadorian specialties to try include empanadas, ceviche, llapingachos (potato cakes), chorizo sausage, morocho (corn dish), and churrasco (grilled steak).

16. It’s Home to Historic Universities

Quito is a center of higher learning and home to some of the oldest universities in Ecuador. The Universidad San Francisco de Quito was founded in 1586 and the Universidad Central del Ecuador in 1826.

17. The Nightlife is Buzzing

Once the sun goes down, Quito comes alive! The city has a vibrant nightlife scene with bars, clubs, lounges, and late-night restaurants. The Mariscal neighborhood is the main nightlife district.

18. There are Beautiful Parks Everywhere

Quito has numerous large, scenic parks perfect for strolling or relaxing on a sunny day. Some of the most popular green spaces include Parque La Carolina, Parque El Ejido, Metropolitan Park, and the Botanical Garden.

19. It’s a Gateway to the Galapagos

The Mariscal Sucre International Airport makes Quito a common gateway for travelers headed to the famous Galapagos Islands. Flights to the Galapagos depart daily from Quito, taking around 90 minutes each way.

20. Many Festivals Happen Year-Round

Throughout the year, Quito hosts colorful festivals and events showcasing the city’s history and culture. Major annual festivals include Carnival, Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week), Fiestas de Quito (Foundation Festival), and the Day of the Dead.


As you can see, Quito is so much more than just a capital city! From its rich history and Spanish colonial architecture to its fusion cuisine and stunning natural scenery, Quito is a diverse destination with something for every type of traveler. The friendly locals, pleasant weather, and lively culture make visiting this Andean gem an unforgettable experience.

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