Monasterio de San Agustín
The Monasterio de San Agustín, built between 1580 and 1669, is located just east of Plaza Grande in Quito’s UNESCO World Heritage listed historic city center. It’s one of the most important historic sites in Ecuador. The church was closed for lunch, but we were able to get a guided tour of the monastery for US$3 each. We waited in the courtyard for the tour to begin.
The guide first took us past some artisans who were reconstructing the very ornate original ceiling. We then went into an interesting room which was filled with impressive woodwork and art from floor to ceiling. In this room, the signing of Ecuador’s declaration of independence took place on August 10, 1809. Pictures were not allowed. The tour finished in the museum which held some incredible colonial ecclesiastical art.
A couple blocks away was the pedestrian Calle Espejo, which is lined with trees and has the historic Teatro Bolívar.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
Next was a quick stop to look at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, founded in 1593. It was closed for lunch when we passed.
Plaza de Santo Domingo
A short walk later, we found ourselves at the Plaza de Santo Domingo, a wide open plaza with a monument in the center to Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre, Ecuador’s national hero.
The Iglesia de Santo Domingo, constructed in 1540, is the crown jewel of the plaza. The interior of the church is worth checking out. There is also a museum attached that we didn’t visit.
Finally, a block downhill is the quaint little street of La Ronda. This street, one of the oldest in the city, is full of nicely restored buildings. In many of the buildings are restaurants and bars with live music at night. La Ronda really comes alive in the evening, especially from Wednesday to Saturday.