1. The Basilica of the National Vow, Quito
The Basilica of the National Vow is neo-Gothic catholic temple, located in Quito, Ecuador. It is an exquisite example of this architecture style and is known also for its traditional Ecuadorian animal grotesques and flower stained windows. It has 24 chapels each of which symbolizes one of the provinces in the country. The basilica was built in the end of 19th century and it is the largest neo-Gothic cathedral in both South and North America. Actually, the basilica was never technically finished as according to local legend when this happens, the world would come to an end. Explore the magnificence of this cathedral!
2. El Panecillo, Quito
El Panecillo is a volcanic hill located in the centre of Quito and offering the most stunning view of the historical part. Once, there was an Indian temple on the top of the hill, worshipping the god of Sun, today you can find one of the most extraordinary sculptures of Virgin Mary. It is 45 metres high and has been made by 7000 aluminium pieces. The statue itself represents the Madonna standing on a snake which is on the globe. However, the interesting part is the angel wings of Virgin Mary as it is considered the only statue in the world with such additions. The "hill of heart” is a main tourist attraction as it reveals Quito in the best possible way!
Ingapirca or the "Inca wall” is the best preserved Inca ruins in Ecuador. The ancient city lies on more than 3000 metres of ruins. The most important of them is the main temple, built to cherish the god of Sun. It is in the form of ellipse and is constructed so accurately, that on each solstice the Suns enters the chapel of the temple. The impressive building skills of Incas can still be seen as each of the construction was made of chiseled stones that match perfectly. The inhabitants of this city performed different rituals to honor their gods and even centuries after that you can easily picture them while in Ingapirca!
Quilotoa is a crater-lake located in the centre of the mountain chain Andes, formed by the eruption of a volcano more than 800 years ago. The lake is 250 metres deep and it is believed that it is connected to the Pacific Ocean. Quilotoa is a stunning masterpiece of Mother Nature with its waters obtaining blue or green colours. The surrounding white rocks and beautiful flora create absolutely divine view for the tourist's eye. The lake can be seen from above as it is recessed deep into earth. If you decide to take a hike into the mountain, you will witness the stunning Andes and reaching the Quiltoa will take your breath away!
Cotopaxi rises for almost 6,000 metres above the ground and is the second highest mountain peak in Ecuador. It is also an active volcano and can praise itself with its glacier, which is one of the few located on the equator. Cotopaxi is part of the volcano chain Pacific Ring of Fire and hasn't been active since 1904. The summit is a popular tourist destination and it is the perfect place for people who enjoy the mountain walking, biking, hiking and etc. The bravest may try to conquer Cotopaxi even though it requires good technical skills. After all, visiting a volcano can't be boring!
6. Malecon 2000, Guayaquil
Malecon 2000 is the heart beat of Guayaquil. This alongside the river broad walk remembers the birth of social life in the centre of the city and it has been recently renewed so that it can reach its glory days. Today, Malecon 2000 offers everything you can possibly want - you can walk and gaze at the Guayas River, visit museums and art galleries, explore the monuments, eat traditional food or shop. The Malecon 2000 is a symbol of the new modern era for the city of Guayaquil as it represents better future. You can also enjoy the incredible botanical garden at the end of the broad walk. Dive into the variety at Malecon 2000!
The city of Cuenca has been inhabited since 8060 BC and you can track the history of the town in the many museums of Cuenca. The most impressive thing to see there however is the New Cathedral of Cuenca which was built in the late 19th century. It has become a symbol of the city with its blue and white domes and represents the neo-Gothic style even though you can see some Romanesque features. You can also visit the Old Cathedral which now serves as a museum. Between the two temples you can enjoy a quite walk into park Abdon Calderon and explore the tranquility of Cuenca.
8. Cajas National Park
The Cajas National Park lies upon more than 28,000 ha, preserving the beauty and diversity of nature. The park is known for its 250 lakes and its interesting plant spices which are the main attraction for non-local tourists. Some believe that the name "cajas” means "gate to the cold mountains” while other relate it to the Spanish word for "box” because of the many beautiful lagoons which connect with each other. The most beautiful of them - Toreadora Lake has incredible lagoon and offers stunning view with breathtaking landscapes. The Cajas National Park is an amazing display of Equatorial flora and fauna!
9. Mojanda Lakes
The Mojanda Lakes are an astonishing group of lakes located at the foot of volcano Mojanda which has been inactive for 200,000 years now. Its eruptions however created the three lakes - Caricocha, Huarmicocha and Yanacocha. The legend tells of Inca prince and princess who weren't allowed to get married and they throw themselves into the Mojanda volcano. As a result the Cariocha (man lake) and Huarmicocha (woman lake) appeared. The lakes are located in a páramo which is a desolated part of nature with many endemic spices that are definitely worth seeing!
Baños is a city, located on the Pastaza River, in the foot of Tungurahua volcano. It is the perfect place to start a walk into the forest and contemplate the amazing nature of the area or to hike the volcano. According to the local legend the Virgin Mary appeared in the nearby waterfall and this lead to the construction of the catholic temple Virgen de Agua Santa which is now a popular place for tourists. You should definitely try the local taffy, made of cane sugar. And of course, don't miss the baths (baños) with their healing hot mineral water, which gave the name of the town!
Linda Benet on 09 Nov 2011
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