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Quito Walking Tour - Guapulo

Thursday, 13 March 2014 17:18

Guapulo, a bohemian and artsy sector of Quito, is one of the city’s little-known treasures and a great place to explore on foot according to Original Ecuador co-founder, Emma Morgan. Emma has lived in this historic and attractive district of Quito since moving to Ecuador from the UK in 2002.

I love to walk around the Old Town of Quito, which has so much to offer in the way of culture, history and architecture, soaking up the atmosphere and people watching, but if you are interested in seeing a less-explored part of the city, another aspect of Quito life, then you must come to Guapulo.

The Mirador

Mirador-de-GuapuloWalking behind Hotel Quito, follow the road down to a fantastic lookout over the Guapulo neighbourhood, which offers great views of the ornately-domed colonial church and the valley beyond. On clear days you can see the snow-capped Cayambe Volcano sitting on the far horizon.

In 1541 the Spanish conquistador - Francisco de Orellana - set out from this point on his impromptu journey which led to him become the first person to navigate the whole length of the Amazon River.

Cafes and Art Workshops

Following the cobblestoned road, which steeply winds down towards the Guapulo Church you will pass interesting architecture, and a number of cafes, bars and art studios, which give this sector its bohemian name and feel.  On the first corner the little café called Warmi serves up wholesome brunches and lunches. Be sure to sample one of the varieties of local Guapulo Beer which are on offer.

Parque Guapulo

Guapulo-Park-QuitoA fantastic new edition to our neighbourhood is the Guapulo Park which was recently inaugurated. When you come to an intersection (with a basketball court on your left) you go straight on and after a 10 minute walk you will reach the entrance to Parque Guapulo. Please be careful of on-coming traffic.

This small park is definitely worth a visit. It offers sections of eucalyptus forest along with some beautiful native trees such as yellow flowered sennas and ancient myrtles (arrayanes), a lovely avenue of native Andean palms and a pretty lake area with weeping willows. The views are spectacular. The park does have midges which like to bite so insect repellent is recommended.

Guapulo Church

Guapulo-ChurchLeaving the park by the main entrance (where you came in), walk along the road to the left which will bring you to the back of the church, take a right then a left and you will arrive at the main square. This large and beautiful church – the Santuario de Guapulo - represents the heart of the Guapulo district.

Dating back to the 17th century, it is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with highly decorated interiors and one of the most ornately designed pulpits in South America.

Lunch with a View

Santuario-de-GuapuloIf you happen to be in Guapulo on the weekend and are a fan of seafood then you must lunch at the little family run restaurant which is a short walk up the steep hill from the main square. Look for a small, wooden window-framed white house with tables, chairs and umbrellas set outside. Great food, great prices, great views but get there early – it can get busy. It’s a favourite among locals.

 

Getting back up the hill

Can’t face the hike back up the hill? Then why not finish off your walking tour with a trip back up into Quito on the local bus. Walk down the road which runs from the main plaza to a set of traffic lights, at the lights turn right and you can either wait here for a taxi or a green bus (Floresta – Cumbaya) or cross over the road to the bus stop and wait for the #21 which turns around here and takes you back up the hill. The road you travel up by bus is different to the road you walked down. It will bring you into the La Floresta district of Quito (which is about a 15 minute walk from Hotel Quito where you started).

Fiestas-de-GuapuloThe Guapulo neighbourhood is found on the eastside of Quito, situated on a small plateau between the main city and the outlying valleys. It has a distinctly bohemian feel, with cafes, bars and art studios along with a beautifully historic church and plaza. If you visit in the first week of September you will be greeted by locals in fancy dress costumes, parading the streets with music, dance and fireworks as they celebrate the annual Fiestas de Guapulo.

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