Plaza Grande is the heart of the historic center of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its official name is Plaza de la Independencia. This is where the first calls for Ecuadorean independence were heard in 1809.
The beautiful plaza is full of trees and benches and there is a large monument in the center. It commemorates the heroes of 1809 who declared Ecuador’s independence from the Spanish crown.
There are five important buildings that surround the plaza. On the east end is the Municipality of Quito. On the north end is the Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop’s Palace), now a shopping center with restaurants. It was built in the 16th century. Next to it is the Hotel Plaza Grande, a five star luxury hotel built in 1930.
The Catedral Metropolitana, on the south end, was completed in 1567. The entrance is on a side street through a small museum. Admission is US$3 and includes a walk through the Chapter House and library. Photography is prohibited.
The interior has an interesting painting of the Last Supper with Christ and his disciples feasting on cuy (guinea pig) and drinking chicha. The tomb of Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre, hero if Ecuadorean independence, is also inside, as is a plaque indicating the spot where president Gabriel Garcia Moreno died on August 6, 1875, after he was attacked with a machete and shot outside the Presidential Palace nearby. Many other presidents and bishops are buried inside.
The Iglesia de El Sagrario is a chapel connected to the Catedral Metropolitana. It was built in 1617.
The Presidential Palace, or Palacio de Carondelet, sits on the west side of the plaza. 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. Free tours of the palace are available. Read about our tour here.