The Presidential Palace, or Palacio de Carondelet, sits on the west side of Plaza Grande in Quito’s UNESCO World Heritage listed historic city center. It was built in 1801 by Barón Francisco Luis Héctor de Carondelet, the president of the Real Audiencia de Quito (the Spanish Empire’s government) and former governor of El Salvador and Louisiana. He was of French descent.
Tours of the palace are free and highly recommended. Bring your passport to the small booth on the south end next to the stairs and you will be given a tour time later in the day. Tours are available in Spanish and English. The tour is limited to rooms not in use by the president at the time of the tour.
When the tour began, a guide met us at the steps and gave a small orientation next to the spot where former president Gabriel Garcia Moreno was assassinated. From there, we passed through security and gave up our passports.
The actual tour began in one of the courtyards with a history of the building.
Next we visited the dining room which had a huge table decorated with local roses. Around the table were glass cases with gifts presented to the president of Ecuador from visiting heads of state. The walls were decorated with portraits of important Ecuadorean independence figures. A small chapel was behind one end of the table.
The tour finished in the Salón Amarillo, where the president holds press conferences and official gatherings. The walls are covered with portraits of former presidents of Ecuador and the official presidential sash.
After the tour, we were escorted back to the entrance and given our passports. We were also given a picture as a souvenir of our visit. It was a very nice touch and made us feel even more welcome in the country.
Finally, before leaving, we took pictures with the palace guards. Changing of the guard ceremonies occur every Monday at 11am.
Overall it was very interesting and worth the time spent. The tour lasted just 45 minutes. The only room we were not able to enter was the president’s cabinet room. It was in session at the time.