El Centro Histórico de Quito is one of the coolest places in Quito. The history here astounds me, even though I don’t know most of it! And, I won’t bore you too much with what I do know. Like with most historic centers, countless museums, cathedrals, churches, hotels, and government buildings reside here. But, after seeing the aforementioned classics, the next things about which one must learn are the La Ronda, El Panecillo, and the journey of the 7 crosses.
La Ronda is allegedly the oldest street in all of Quito. And Quito is an incredibly old city; the Spanish conquistadores swept through in the 1530s! So, chronologically speaking, cattle used to trod along this now-charming passage (see below). What a rush. The delightful piano shop found at la Ronda is beautiful. In fact, I feel it helped me connect with the city. The empanadas de viento (breaded dough of wind…?) and canelazo (a warm cinnamon-y alcoholic beverage) are not to be missed. They are delicacies beyond your imagination. This oldest street was my favorite street.
Many legends tell of the Panecillo (trans. little bread). This symbolic statue of the virgin of Quito has lots of history through indigenous roots and religion even up to modern Catholicism. They made a movie, in fact, explaining how the south part of Quito is unlucky due to being to the virgin’s back. Interesante, ¿no? Standing on a massive hill of volcanic rock and being 45 meters high, el Panecillo can be seen from most everywhere in Quito. And is thus, a wonderful reminder that the virgin is watching you.
The journey or route of the seven crosses is an entertaining way to traverse the various streets of the historical district while not getting too lost in the narrow and Spanish titled streets. Basically, the seven crosses form a path which guides you = God guides you = you’re enlightened! Regardless of the spiritual aspect, fascinating museums, churches laden with pan de oro (essentially, gold laminate), and beautiful sights of the mountains and hills of Pichincha with rows and columns of thousands of colorful homes.