Quito, Ecuador’s historical capital, is beautiful and climatically perfect, stretching luxuriously across the Andean Valley and flanked by magnificent volcanic peaks. Modern Quito is a city of two halves, old and new, and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1978. The old colonial area has 40 churches and chapels, 16 convents and monasteries with their cloisters, 17 plazas, and 12 museums.
During the pre-Colombian era several tribes inhabited present-day Quito, including the Quitus from whom the city took its name. In the beginning of the 16th century, while the Incas controlled Ecuador, Quito served as the Capital of the northern half of their empire. In 1533, the Inca General Rumiñahui destroyed Quito so that it would not fall into the hands of the advancing Spanish conquistadors.
The New City bears no marks whatsoever of its colonial past. Gleaming office buildings and a bustling business district add to Quito's special flavor, a melting pot of old and new traditions, customs, and cultures.