Today we explored some of the historic district of Quito. We first went to Plaza Grande to book some tours. We discovered a chocolate store...and tried their thick creamy hot chocolate. It has won awards....and it is delicioso....so thick and sooo creamy and chocolatey. Parara I think it was called.
We went from here into the Catedral de Quito that was also a museum. It was ornate with lots of gold used particularly in the altar. There were lots of fine carvings but no stained glass windows. We saw many of the robes worn by the priests and bishops. Gold and silver threads had been used to make them. Floor to ceiling portraits of bishops lined walls of one room. Ornate 5 foot gold candelabra stood in a corner. Behind glass was a cerimonial gold mace encrusted with emeralds. Miters encrusted with jewels filled several cabinets.
We admired again the Plaza Grande then tried to go into the Palacio Presidential. We needed a reservation which we didn't have so we went instead into the grounds of the Centro Cultural Metropolitano. We saw mainly the courtyard which had a beautiful garden laid out in a square devided into triangles edged by low bushes with orange flowers. Two huge Arauno trees, a wax palm and another shorter palm occupied the center of each with a fountain in the middle. Columns lined a covered walkway around the courtyard. Along one edge stood old printing press machines.
Nextwe walked along the street to Catedral de Compania. This has gold -covered intricate carvings, golden statues and an altar of pure gold....to me a sacrilege. Hidden out of view was a small peaceful garden.
From here we trudged up the shop-lined streets to Plaza San Francisco by scafolding, wooden and concrete supports holding up an old building being refurbished. Beyond this was another large plaza with steps leading up to it. A huge fountain..dry...was in the middle. Little shops and a restaurant were along the same side as the Catedral de San Francisco. We stopped for an excellent lunch and then went into the Catedral. This we overheard is the oldest cathedral in Quito. It is less ornate than Compania but still has a lot of gold painted carvings and a golden altar.
From here we walked down to Santo Domingo...another large cathedral but it was now closed so we opted to go down to La Ronda.
La Ronda is a narrow bricked street with artesan shops and restaurants lining it. Many have colonial balconies and flowerpots with brightly colored geraniums, hanging plants etc. We walked to both ends. In one section we spotted a shop selling pinatas.
Dark clouds now filled the sky. Thunder could be heard grumbling nearby. We huffed and puffed our way back up the narrow streets towards Mei Leititia Hostel. Just as we climbed the stairs to our room, the heavens opened and the rain fell.