San Francisco de Quito
What a thrill it was to organize a trip to Ecuador!! The Center of the World!! Did my research, prepared a list of most important things. I wanted to see everything, at least as much as I could. While doing my research through internet, books and friends, I found out a very important fact. The elevation of the city’s central square, Plaza de la Independencia or Plaza Grande, is about 9,186 ft, or 2,800m. This means first couple days in Quito you have to take it easy, eat light, and walk slow, not too much activity.
Through a friend I found out there is a prescription medicine for that!!! Definitely that was my solution; my intention was to rest only at night, after seeing every inch of the city and most importantly photographing every inch square!! Slowing down, not in my book!!
From my readings I found out a day and a night in Quito, (beginning of the package tour), was not enough!! After all, Quito is a UNESCO heritage city!! I decided to go few days ahead, thankfully my friend and my roommate agreed to the same. We were 12 people going. I talked with the remaining 10 about this idea and one more couple liked it and agreed to do the same.
We could have stayed at the same hotel that the Agency had booked us in the “package” but it was not adventurous enough for me. I wanted something different, more of the taste of the city, more of history than just a franchise.
The first name of a hotel that stuck in my mind was San Francisco de Quito!! I read over and over about its history on their site. With each reading, I was more convinced that San Francisco de Quito was the place I wanted to spend on my semi solo adventure!! Lots of pros about this choice and plus one, the price: $42.00/night!!! The cons: the location!! NOT recommended, being situated “en el Centro”, crime area after dusk!!! But, I didn’t mind the cons, I was adamant!!! And most important there was a way to avoid being a target by taking a cab even for short distances instead of walking!!!
Called my friend and roommate to be and informed her about my finding and desire. First she was worried but couple days later she was as enthusiastic about it as I was and her only worry was my photography gears!! For a second a black cloud tried to wipe my spirits but I dismissed quickly.
And Hotel San Francisco de Quito was booked!!!
Here is what their site said:
- San Francisco de Quito city was founded in 1534. It is in this year that the land was distributed to the Spanish conquerors and founders according to their hierarchy. The Spanish Miguel Lozada received the land where today hotel San Francisco de Quito is located. He built a house which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1698, one of the earthquakes that destroyed most of Real Audiencia de Quito territory.
- In 1698, the Spanish Juan de Dios Padilla built a new house with two levels. The first level had the main patio for milking and watering cows. A stable for horses was built in the as well as a little chapel. The second level had bedrooms, a dining room and a kitchen.
- The House presents colonial and Quiteño architecture characteristics of the XVII century, with more than one meter wide walls made of adobe, (mix of mud and straw).
- In 1747, its owner, who belonged to a religious group painted the “Virgen de Rosario” fresco on the wall over the stone stairs that lead to the second level. 1989At the last reconstruction of the house, in 1989, this fresco was found behind another wall that was covering it.
- The last reconstruction of this house, cultural heritage of the city was finished in 1997, year of Hotel San Francisco de Quito foundation, it keeps all its original details.
- Hotel San Francisco de Quito is located just in the heart of the Historical old Town, few steps from the beautiful plazas, churches, convents, museums and touristic places, it is surrounded by all the cultural and historical value of the old city.
Little history from Wiki:
Born Sebastián Moyano in the province of Córdoba, Spain, in either 1479 or 1480. He took the name Belalcázar or Benalcázar as that was the name of the castle-town near to his birthplace in Córdoba. According to various sources, he may have left for the New World with Christopher Columbus as early as 1498, but Juan de Castellanos wrote that he killed a mule in 1507, and fled Spain for the West Indies due to fear of punishment, and as a chance to escape the poverty in which he lived.
Benalcázar, Pizarro’s lieutenant and fellow Extremaduran, had already departed from San Miguel with 140 foot soldiers and a few horses on his conquering mission to Ecuador. At the foot of Mount Chimborazo, near the modern city of Riobamba (Ecuador) he met and defeated the forces of the great Inca warrior Rumiñahui with the aid of Cañari tribesmen who served as guides and allies to the conquering Spaniards. Rumiñahui fell back to Quito, and, while in pursuit of the Inca army, Benalcázar encountered another, quite sizable, conquering party led by Guatemalan Governor Pedro de Alvarado. Bored with administering Central America, Alvarado had set sail for the south without the crown’s authorization, landed on the Ecuadorian coast, and marched inland to the Sierra. Most of Alvarado’s men joined Benalcázar for the siege of Quito. In 1533, Rumiñahui, burned the city to prevent the Spanish from taking it, thereby destroying any traces of the ancient pre-Hispanic city.
In 1534 Sebastián de Belalcázar along with Diego de Almagro established the city of San Francisco de Quito on top of the ruins of the secondary Inca capital naming it in honor of Pizzaro. It was not until December 1540 that Quito received its first captain-general in the person of Francisco Pizzaro’s brother, Gonzalo Pizarro.
Declared by UNESCO Cultural Patrimony of the Humanity in 1978, Quito (2800 m.a.s.l.), is a large city loaded of history. The chronicler say, that before the Spanish foundation in 1534, the general of the Atahualpa Inca, Ruminahui (face of stone), set fire to the palaces and buildings constructed by the “sons of the Sun”.
(Photos by: Houry Photography)