San Marco district, Quito

A post from Not Your Average American alerted M to a different part of Centro Histórico for us to explore. San Marco is near the old centre but has a very different feel as there are still many people living in the area, and businesses are very low key. Many of the houses in Junin Street had tiles with photos of previous inhabitants and some words about their lives. Predictably, M found un bar de cerveza artesenal, Sirka, for us to visit while we were exploring. Sirka is a great location to visit for beers, food (we only tried the hommus, but that was good) and quirky artwork.

20170614_16222420170614_16260420170614_162902

20170614_163212
I want these doors
20170614_165505
Doorway to Sirka 
20170614_173409
Sirka beer garden

 

 

Capilla del Hombre, Quito

Our first introduction to Ecuador’s most famous artist was quite fitting for this post-postmodern world – great t-shirts. Although we didn’t realise until later, the fabulous images were the work of Oswaldo Guayasamin. In Quito you can visit Capilla del Hombre, which is Guayasamin’s home / studio, and a chapel he designed to pay hommage to humankind. This is a wonderful location to visit, not only to view his art but also see his art collection (pre-Columbian, colonial and the work of international artists like Picasso, Goya and Chagal) and his house, with great views across the city.

IMG_4416
Quito from Guayasamin’s house
IMG_4424
The top of the Capilla del Hombre
IMG_4428
View of the house
IMG_4429
Sculpture in the garden
IMG_4440
Another tantalising glimpse of Cotopaxi – under all that cloud
IMG_4441
Street art at the bus stop near Capilla del Hombre (catch a 54 or a 54A)

 

Cultural Quito 2

As I’ve mentioned earlier, Quito has many, many interesting sounding museums and art galleries. One that had been recommended in the guide book, and personally, was the Museo de Arte Colonial in Centro Histórico. If you’re interested in religious art and religious influences on colonial history, you will like this museo, especially the upstairs rooms. I was especially impressed by the escritorios (writing desks) on display, so detailed and beautiful. The building, another old but renovated colonial house, is a lovely setting. Downstairs there was an interesting exhibition about the art school that used to be based there ( I think – no English translations were available). And on the day we visited there was no charge.

IMG_4322IMG_4323IMG_4328IMG_4332IMG_4338IMG_4342

 

Cultural Quito

Quito has a lot of museums. We recently picked up a map that identified 72 different locations – that’s a whole lot of culture. We’ve been to a couple so far but one of my favourites is the one we visited most recently – The Casa del Alabado Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Located in a renovated colonial house, it has an amazing collection of art collated in themes, with information boards in Spanish and English. Entry includes an audio tour – not all items have audio information but enough to be useful. Fascinating and beautiful. I also discovered they also have an amazing website with detailed information about their collection. (Check out the Google Project on their website). And it’s in the same street as some piñata shops, which are pretty cool. I never realised there was such a thing as a piñata shop.

La Floresta, Quito

We thought we’d go for a weekend stroll in La Floresta – and hit the jackpot! This weekend is ‘La Madre de las Ferias’ (‘the mother of all fairs’ says google translate), a fact we stumbled on while having morning coffee and noticing an interesting map in the window showing the cafes, artists studios and shops in the area. La Floresta is celebrating 100 years (and mother’s day fairs seem to be a thing) and many of the businesses were promoting their wares, providing tastings and generally being welcoming. We bought some produce at El Salinerito, and I want to go back to Fui, which recycles bike tyres and billboards into really cool things. So many amazing walls to admire too.

20170506_12040420170506_12292920170506_12403720170506_134515

 

Guápulo, Quito

North of La Floresta there’s an area (suburb) called Guápolo. On Mayday ( a holiday here) we went for a walk hoping to find the local park, not realising just how steep the descent would be. We got half way down the valley and decided to turn back as we could see a major storm approaching. The place had such a different feel to anywhere else we’ve been in Quito so far. Old, established, scenic but also precarious, perched on the side of the valley.

First views of Centro Histórico, Quito

Quito is on the UNESCO world heritage list, as its historic centre is considered the best preserved in Latin America. We took a walk through Mariscal to the Centro Histórico and Plaza Grande. We had a couple of destinations in mind but ended up stopping at the Basílica del Voto Nacional. This is not one of the oldest churches in the city, but is a gothic marvel with native wildlife featured as gargoyles and beautiful windows. There are fantastic views of the city from the upper levels and tower. As you’d expect, M went the extra rickety steps to get to the tippy top. We then went on to the Plaza hoping to see the Quito Cathedral and Museum, but had lingered longer than expected over those upper views. We shall return.