The Most Beautiful Buildings in Quito

Find beautiful architecture in Quito | © Sara Löwgren / Flickr
Find beautiful architecture in Quito | © Sara Löwgren / Flickr
Photo of Angela Drake
Founder, Not Your Average American8 July 2017

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito is home to several impressive buildings in the heart of its historic center. The churches and government structures on this list just scratch the surface of architectural beauties that line the cobblestoned streets. A stroll to visit these locations also means seeing many of the smaller gems tucked here and there.

Palacio de Carondelet

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Palacio de Carondolet, Quito
Palacio de Carondolet, Quito | ©Murray Foubister | Flickr
The Presidential Palace is gorgeous both inside and out. Originally constructed around 1570 as the first seat of the Spanish Crown for the Audiencia of Quito, it is still used today as the primary residence of the President of Ecuador. However, more recent presidents have chosen to live off-site and use the historic palace for official business only. The building is open most days for public tours.

La Compañia de Jesus

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La Compania de Jesus, Quito
La Compania de Jesus, Quito | ©Victor Aulestia | Flickr
Known as the Church of Gold, the Compañia de Jesus is one of the most splendid churches in Ecuador. The exterior of the church features stone that comes from the Pichincha Volcano, giving the building its unique rosy-gray hue. It’s best to view the details of the façade from the second story of the neighboring Centro Cultural Metropolitano.

Hotel Plaza Grande

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Hotel Plaza Grande, Quito
Hotel Plaza Grande, Quito | ©John Solaro | Flickr
The Hotel Plaza Grande was the original home of Francisco Pizarro. Built in a style that was different for the time, the building is an iconic symbol of the colonization of Ecuador. It was also the lone house on a plaza built to honor the governing bodies of the colony—the Kingdom of Spain, the Audiencia of Quito, and the Catholic Church.
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La Basilica del Voto Nacional

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La Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito
La Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito | ©Quito magnifico | Wikipedia
While built to look like an older church, the Basilica del Voto Nacional is a new addition to the Quito landscape. A national vote to fund the building gives the huge cathedral its name. A keen eye will notice that the gargoyles are untraditional additions of animals native to Ecuador, such as llamas, iguanas, and frigate birds. Tourists may climb to the two towers in the front and single tower in the back for a small entrance fee.

Teatro Sucre

Building, Market, Theater
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Teatro Sucre, Quito
Teatro Sucre, Quito | ©Danny Ayala Hinojosa | Flickr
This stunning white edifice graces a wide open plaza and defies its humble origins. When the building was constructed in the 16th century, the area was known as Butcher’s Plaza and was home to many a slaughterhouse. Cows paraded by each Saturday as they were taken to market. Today, the Teatro Sucre, offering some of the best entertainment in Quito, hosts international artists, theater groups, and orchestras.

Iglesia San Francisco

Church, Building, School
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Iglesia San Fransisco, Quito
Iglesia San Fransisco, Quito | ©JP Bennett | Flickr
The construction of the Iglesia San Francisco began around 1537, shortly after the first arrival of Spanish colonists, but the finished church was not officially inaugurated until 1705. The building has no single style due to many different architects and structural damage caused by multiple earthquakes. Of all the churches in Quito, the Iglesia San Francisco was key to capturing the hearts and minds of the local indigenous peoples. The art on its walls is a tribute to the many anonymous artists of the Quito School.

Iglesia Santo Domingo

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Iglesia Santo Domingo, Quito
Iglesia Santo Domingo, Quito | ©pmoroni | Flickr
The Iglesia Santo Domingo was built between the years of 1540 and 1688. A single picture does not do this stunning building justice, as two of its gorgeous domes are placed directly over a busy city street, making photography next to impossible. While the church is closed each afternoon, it is possible to visit the interior by entering the museum entrance and paying a small fee.

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