Quito, city at 2,850m

Quito is a special city.


Not only is it the second highest city, built at an elevation of 2.850 m,  but also a city with a long history and a unique topography, extending itself in a valley between mountain ranges. Pichincha to the west, is a volcano that makes its presence indelible in the life of the city and its inhabitants.  The city appears as if trickling down from the slopes of Pichincha, but in reality what we see is the opposite process of the city crawling up on it.

Quito fills the concave space of a valley between volcanos and mountains. Its structure is quite interesting as much of the composition of its center consists of a combination of villas of one or two floors, next to multi-level office buildings or condominiums. Contemporary Quito has developed around its famous historic center a city which sits on a slope and was first declared World Patrimony for its integral colonial architecture before anyone else. It then grew in a longitudinal fashion in this area available between the slopes on the east and the west. Therefore there’s always open views and the eye doesn’t stop.

There’s also a relatively good and well-designed infrastructure of roads, public spaces, parks, pedestrian routes. What hasn’t worked so well is the past decades is the way various other infrastructural systems incorporate themselves so we have a maze of cables above our heads.


Typical cables looming over the streets in Quito

At the societal level, it is an incredibly diverse city due to its population consisting of indigenous people, various categories of mestizos with varied characteristics as a result of the mix of chromosomes, afrodescedientes or afroecuatorianos, and Europeans or people of European extraction, as well as a percentage of people from Arab countries. All these people coexist.


View of the edge of Gonzalez Suarez from the precipitous hills of Guapulo

Quito is being addressed by Guayaquileños, the people of the largest city of Guayaquil, as “communists”, due to the progressive, often times egalitarian and radical ideas emanating from Quito, and the relatively little –compared to Guayaquil- social disparities of the population.