Destination guide: Quito
The city of Quito offers fascinating tourist attractions including colonial churches, outlying pueblos, and plenty of opportunity for excursions such as:
Capilla del Hombre
Conceived and designed by famous Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín, the "capilla" art gallery is a monument to the indigenous people of the Americas. Its walls proclaim the value of America from prehistoric time to current day.
Interestingly, the day that Guayasamín passed away (March 10, 1999) a series of 14 pre-Incan tombs were discovered very near the gallery and are currently in the process of being incorporated into the layout of the cultural complex.
The Government Palace, also known as Carondolet Palace, was formed as the seat of the government and as a residence for Ecuador's presidents. Located in historic downtown Quito, it was built between the 18th and 19th centuries. The architecture has a noticeable Spanish influence along with colonial and indigenous elements.
The palace is detailed with Venetian glass and cast-iron banisters thought to have been brought from the Las Tuillerías Palace in France after it was destroyed in 1871. Inside, visitors will find works of art on display by renowned national artists like Oswaldo Guayasamín and Oswaldo Viteri.
Mitad del Mundo
This village is the country's smallest settlement, located just over 13 kilometers (8 miles) from Quito. Within the colonial-style building, visitors will find the Equatorial Monument that marks the spot where the equator passes through at 0° 0' 0" latitude. The principal attraction of the site is being able to walk in both hemispheres at the same time.
This rural area located just 2.5 hours from Quito is a booming ecotourism and bird-watching attraction.
Mindo is located in the midst of a 20,000-hectare (49,421-acre) forest where some 500 varieties of birds and 40 types of butterflies are concentrated. While touring the area, visitors will be amazed by the ecological diversity - the most important in the country - as the flora and fauna are disproportionately successful considering the dimensions of the area.