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Quito Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Quito, formerly San Francisco de Quito, is the capital city of Ecuador and the world’s highest official capital city, standing at 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level. It is situated on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes highlands, in the Guayllabamba river basin. Quito is Ecuador’s second most populated city, behind Guayaquil, with a population of 2,671,191 according to the most recent census (2014). It is also the provincial capital of Pichincha and the headquarters of the Metropolitan District of Quito. In the 2010 national census, the canton had a population of 2,239,191 people. The city was named the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations in 2008.

Quito’s historic core is one of the biggest, least-altered, and best-preserved in the Americas. Quito and Kraków were the first UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites to be designated in 1978. Quito’s center plaza lies around 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of the equator, while the city itself stretches to within about 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) of zero latitude. To prevent misunderstanding, a monument and museum indicating the approximate position of the equator is known locally as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the globe), since the term ecuador is Spanish for equator.

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Quito | Introduction

Quito – Info Card

POPULATION : • Capital city 2,671,191
• Metro 4,700,000
FOUNDED :   December 6, 1534
LANGUAGE :  Spanish (official)
AREA : • Capital city 372.39 km2 (143.78 sq mi)
• Water 0 km2 (0 sq mi)
• Metro 4,217.95 km2 (1,628.56 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  2,850 m (9,350 ft)
COORDINATES :  00°14′S 78°31′W
POSTAL CODE :   EC1701 (new format), P01 (old format)
DIALING CODE :   +593 2

Tourism in Quito

Ecuador’s capital is Quito. It was built on the remnants of an old Inca city in 1534. Quito now has a population of two million people. In 1978, it was the first city to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (together with Kraków, Poland).

To get along, you should be prepared to speak some basic Spanish. Quito is a good location to study Spanish before traveling to other parts of South America. When compared to coastal locations, the Spanish spoken in Quito is fairly clear and spoken slowly. There are several good Spanish schools where you may take solo or group courses at a low cost. These schools will also arrange you homestay housing, which is simple, economical, and a fantastic opportunity to immerse oneself in the culture and sample the local cuisine.

Except in the touristic sections of North Quito, such as the “La Mariscal” sector, where the majority of tourist shops are situated, very few inhabitants know English. La Mariscal takes up many square blocks in North Quito and is the place to be if you’re carrying a backpack. There are several bars, restaurants, hostels, and internet cafés. Young people from many nations converge there.

Ecuador, particularly the Sierra area, which encompasses Quito, is a culturally conservative culture. This is mirrored in the way people dress. In Ecuador, people of all socioeconomic classes dress up. For males, this implies slacks and a button-down shirt. Women should wear slacks or dresses. Men and women seldom wear short pants in Quito, yet casual clothing has been increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among the young and on very hot days. Some well-known nightclubs and restaurants have a dress code. Finally, keep in mind that Quito is claimed to have “all four seasons in a day.” When the sun goes down, it may become rather chilly. Layering your clothing is a smart idea.


The Quito Visitors’ Bureau has a number of information centers across the city. These include the International Arrivals terminal at the airport; the small Parque Gabriela Mistral on Reina Victoria in the Mariscal District; the Banco Central Museum in the Mariscal District; and, finally, in the Old Town, on the ground floor of the Palacio Municipal on one side of Plaza Grande – their main hub. This offers friendly employees, luggage lockers, maps, brochures, and books for sale, and an Ecuadorian craft shop. This agency provides subsidized guided excursions on a variety of itineraries.

Climate of Quito

Quito has a subtropical highland climate, according to the Köppen climate classification (Cfb). Quito has a reasonably consistent cold temperature due to its height and proximity to the equator. The typical midday temperature is 18.7 °C (65.7 °F), with an usual nighttime low of 9.3 °C (48.7 °F). The yearly average temperature is 14 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit). There are only two seasons in the city: dry and rainy. Summer is defined as the period from June to September (4 months), whereas winter is defined as the period from October to May (8 months). The average annual precipitation is about 1,000 mm, depending on region (39 in).

Because of its height, Quito gets some of the most intense sun radiation in the world, with UV indexes exceeding 24 at times.

Because Quito is so close to the equator, high pressure systems are exceedingly unusual. Because pressure is steady, extremely low pressure systems are likewise uncommon. Between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011, the lowest recorded pressure was 998.2 hpa and the highest was 1015.2 hpa. Despite the lack of high pressure, Quito may still see peaceful weather. The peak pressure is usually around midnight, while the lowest is about mid-afternoon.

Geography of Quito

Quito is situated in Ecuador’s northern highlands, in the Guayllabamba river basin. The city is located on a large plateau on the Pichincha volcano’s east sides. The valley of the Guayllabamba River, in which Quito is located, is surrounded by volcanoes, some of which are snow-capped and visible from the city on a clear day. Quito is the capital city closest to the equator.


Pichincha, the nearest volcano to Quito, towers above the city on the city’s western outskirts. Quito is also the world’s only capital that is directly threatened by an active volcano. Pichincha volcano has numerous peaks, including Ruku Pichincha at 4,700 meters and Wawa Pichincha at 4,794 meters. Wawa Pichincha is still active and is being watched by volcanologists at the national polytechnic university’s geophysical institute. The city was buried in more than 25 centimetres (10 in) of ash during the biggest eruption in 1660. In the nineteenth century, there were three small eruptions. The most recent eruption occurred on October 5, 1999, when a few puffs of smoke and a huge quantity of ash fell over the city.

Other neighboring volcanoes’ activity may potentially have an impact on the city. Following an eruption of the volcano Reventador in November 2002, the city was pelted with a covering of fine ash particles to a depth of several millimeters.

Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, Antisana, and Cayambe are among the volcanoes of the Central Cordillera (Royal Cordillera) east of Quito that surround the Guayllabamba valley. Illiniza, Atacazo, and Pululahua are some of the volcanoes of the Western Cordillera to the west of the Guayllabamba basin, as well as Pichincha (which has the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve).

Economy of Quito

Quito is the greatest city in terms of GDP contribution to the country, and the second highest in terms of per capita income after Cuenca. Quito has the greatest amount of tax collection in Ecuador, above the national 57 percent each year in 2009, and is presently the country’s most significant economic zone, 63, according to the most recent “research” done by the Central Bank of Ecuador.

TAME, Ecuador’s national airline, is headquartered in Quito.

Quito is the headquarters of Petroecuador, the country’s biggest enterprise and one of the largest in Latin America.

Many national and international financial institutions, oil firms, and worldwide enterprises have their headquarters and regional offices in Quito, making it a world-class commercial metropolis.

Quito is classed as a Beta city in “The World according to GaWC global cities report, which analyzes a city’s integration into the world city network, as an important world class metropolis that is vital in integrating its area or state into the global economy.”

Internet, Communication in Quito

The Quito Visitors’ Bureau is an excellent location to start. It features a number of information centers located across the city. These include the International and Domestic Arrivals terminals at the airport; the Parque Gabriela Mistral in the Mariscal District (just north of Plaza Foch); the Banco Central Museum in the Masiscal District; and, finally, on the ground floor of the Palacio Municipal on one side of Plaza Grande – their main center – in the Old Town.

The main center has courteous English-speaking employees, luggage lockers, maps, flyers, and books for sale, and an Ecuadorian craft shop. This center also provides free guided tours of the Old Town, with guests only paying entry prices to attractions. The main office may be reached at (+593 2) 2570 – 786 / 2586 – 591, or by email at [email protected].

The main iTur (national tourist information offices) is situated in northern Quito, between La Carolina park and El Jardin malls, on the one side of Av. Eloy Alfaro y Carlos Tobar, to one side of the Ministry of Tourism.

How To Travel To Quito

By plane

Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre(IATA: UIO) is located on the Oyambaro plain near the town of Tababela, about 18 kilometers (11 mi) east of Quito, Ecuador. There are (almost) daily flights serving Amsterdam, Atlanta,Houston, Madrid, Miami, New York, Buenos Aires, Bonaire, Caracas, Bogotá,Lima, Medellín, Cali, Panama City, Punta Cana, Santiago de Chile, and San Jose. Airlines include KLM, United Airlines, Copa Airlines, AeroGal, TAME, SAéreo, Aeropostal, AirPlus Comet, Delta Airlines, LAN Ecuador, Avianca Holdings – Alianza Summa (which includes Avianca, VIP & Aerogal), Iberia, Santa Barbara, and American Airlines. Some of these flights continue to or originate from Guayaquil. Some of these airlines also feature charter flights to/from San Andrés, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Havana, Aruba, Curaçao,Cancún, Rio de Janeiro, Puerto Plata, and Santo Domingo. It has one of the longest runways in Latin America at 4,100 meters long.

The airport fee is already included in the purchase of international airfare.

On the arrival level, a taxi stand is located next to the information desk. The prices for each destination are listed. The information kiosk can provide you with the appropriate tariff and zone for your accommodation. The cost is about $35.

If you want to try taking a bus rather than a taxi to the Mariscal neighborhood of Quito, which is often referred to as “la zona” by locals or “gringolandia” by tourists, you can exit the airport, cross the main street, and board any bus with “J.L. Mera” or “Juan L. Mera” on the sign. However, it is not recommended if you have a lot of luggage or are unfamiliar with Quito. The price is USD $0.25, but if you’re a student or over 65 and over 65, it’s only USD $0.12.

By bus

The old “Terminal Terrestre,” which was located in Cumandá (Center of the city)has been replaced by two new terminals.

  • Terminal Quitumbe (located in the far south of Quito), services all the buses that go to any destination south of Quito: Basically all of the coastal provinces, all of the amazonian provinces, and all of the mountain region (sierra) provinces except two: Carchi and Imbabura (where Otavalo and other tourist attractions are located). This terminal can be reached by local buses (which often leave La Marin in Old Town) or by the Trolebus and Metro trolleys.
  • For Carchi and Imbabura (where Otavalo and other tourist attractions are located) two you need to go to Terminal Carcelén (located in the far north of Quito). This terminal can be reached by local buses (which you can catch at La Marin in Old Town or El Ejido in New Town) or by Ecovia, Trolebus and Metro
  • Some bus companies have their own terminals near La Mariscal. These include TransEsmeraldas (just past la Colon), Flota Imbabura (above El Ejido), and Reina del Camino (also above El Ejido). However, travelers should be warned that Reina del Camino buses are among the country’s most dangerous, in addition to always being either too warm or too cold. A number of English tourists died in a Reina bus crash a few years ago and numerous Ecuadorians have as well.

Complete timetables for domestic planes, railroads, and buses. The cost is determined by your destination. Ecuadorian long-distance bus prices average $1 per hour, however the cost is usually predetermined. You won’t be charged for the additional hours if your bus ride, for whatever reason (a broken road, heavy traffic, etc.), takes twice as long to reach your destination. In July 2009, a ticket to Guayaquil costs $9.

However, the usual precautions still apply: it is secure as long as you keep your possessions close by and avoid hanging around there late at night. You’ll likely hear shouts from people wanting you to go there. They either work for a bus company and want you to purchase a ticket from them, or they want to assist you in finding the bus you need in return for a tip. Avoid using Quito’s public transit system if you are traveling with a lot of luggage and instead take a cab to your accommodation. Long-distance buses in Ecuador often let passengers off at any location along the way.

How To Get Around In Quito

There are 3 independent, ‘enclose stations’ systems of buses, with very few transfer stations among them. They are very inexpensive (USD 0.25 for a single ride). These lines follow north-south-lines down through the heart of Quito, and they have stations close to La Mariscal where most hotels are located. Take note that there is no tradition of waiting for people to disembark before people board, so this may take some getting used to. The buses are among the cleanest of South America, but still, be aware of pickpockets!

  • El Trole or The Trolley (Green stations, buses of different colors) run from station La Y in the north to El Recreo in the south. Downtown, it has the closest stations to Plaza Grande.
  • Metrobus (Blue stations marked with a Q, buses of different colors) run from Universidad Central in America Avenue, next to Prensa Ave, and then to Diego de Vasquez Ave. until Carcelen last station, this is the best bus service for visitors who wants to visit the Mitad del Mundo Monument, because at Ofelia station the public services buses who go to Mitad del Mundo monument waits to make the switching and carry visitors to Mitad del Mundo, USD 0.25 until Ofelia station, USD 0.35 to Mitad del Mundo Monument ($0.15 if you come from / go to the Metrobus).
  • Ecovia (Red buses and stations marked with an e) run from Rio Coca Station (north) to La Marin Station inside the Quito historic Downtown. Serves stations close to Casa de la Cultura and Estadio Olímpico and Quicentro mall.

The easiest way to get to most Quito hotels from the airport is to buy a taxi ticket, available after the baggage area before exiting the airport. Cost to the hotels in the main tourist area is USD 5 (November 2008). If you hail a cab just outside at the airport you can get them to use the meter and pay less than USD 3 for a ride to La Mariscal hotel district.

For those wanting to save money and reduce their ecological impact on Ecuador, many local buses (USD 0.25) head south to the tourist areas. Just exit the airport and cross the main street. Buses with an “Amazonas” or “Juan Leon Mera” sign go to La Mariscal. Buses with a “La Marin” sign will leave you a few blocks away from Old Town.

Taxis and buses are everywhere and very inexpensive. Taxi drivers are known to pull weapons on tourists and steal their money, cameras, etc. Secuestro express(express kidnapping) is a crime that increasing numbers of taxi drivers are committing. Pickpocketing is a rare occurrence on buses and can be avoided with common sense. A taxi ride costs a minimum of USD 1 during the day and a minimum of USD 2 at night. Only use official taxis (yellow with a number painted on the door). Make sure the driver turns on the taxi meter if you don’t want to get ripped off and find another taxi if they claim it’s broken (taxímetro). At night or if they refuse to, negotiate the price before getting in, or wait for the next. Carry small denominations of money and have exact change for your taxi fare. If you do not have exact change, taxi drivers conveniently won’t be able to make change for you and will try to convince you to make the change a tip instead. When taking a taxi be sure you are aware of the fastest route; if a driver is using the meter he may take the scenic route. Most major hotels have taxis that they have approved as safe and legitimate. If unsure about a taxi, call your hotel and they can generally have a safe taxi dispatched to your location. A bus trip costs in Quito USD 0.25, including Trole and Ecovía (March 2010).

  • The railway station is at the south end of the old city, close to the El Troleroute. The railway is very rundown and services are erratic. It’s best to check with the Visitors’ Bureau on the most recent timetable.
  • You can rent a car in Quito, but it’s not recommended for getting around the city. It’s not worth the effort with taxis so cheap. Renting a car is a possibility for exploring further afield, to the Cotopaxi or Otavalo or Papallacta areas, for instance, but is only recommended for those who speak a bit of Spanish and can handle the tension of Ecuador’s ‘lax’ driving rules.
  • You can also get around by renting a Bike atYellow Bike or Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental. Quito offers a unique Cycle Path that goes around the northern part of the City, throughout Av. Amazonas to Parque La Carolina. If you rent a bike to travel around Quito we recommend you are careful and use a helmet, it is a nice adventure and a cheap way to get around. Lizardo Garcia 512 y Almagro, La Mariscal. or Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental Juan León Mera N22-37 (between Carrión and Veintimilla) in the Mariscal
  • The best way to stay outside and see all of Quito can be on a scooter or motorcycle rentalEcuador Freedom Bike Rental offers a wide range of motorscooters and motorcycles and can fit them with a GPS. With a self-guided GPS Tour, you can see all of the sights in the city at your own pace and see much more than with a car, bicycle or taxi. Each rider goes through a mini safety course on how to ride the scooter and all rentals include insurance and helmets. Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental Juan León Mera N22-37 (between Carrión and Veintimilla)

Districts & Neighbourhoods In Quito

Quito is 2,800 meters, or nearly 10,000 feet, above sea level and is situated between two mountain ranges. You might need a few days to adjust to the higher altitude.

The Old City is located in the center of Quito, with the Southern and Northern Districts on each side. The North has the highest concentration of tourist attractions, which includes the airport. The biggest Old City in North America is in Quito. Over the past ten years, it has undergone a significant repair and rehabilitation work, largely funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. It has sixteen convents and monasteries, seventeen squares, and no less than forty churches and convents. Because of the wealth of its colonial and independence-era architecture and legacy, it has been dubbed the “Reliquary of the Americas.” It’s a terrific area to explore since it has several top-notch museums, as well as many of eateries and terrace cafés where you can rest while taking in the sights.

Quito’s modern north is a pleasant area to visit with lots of restaurants and nightlife, as well as museums and urban parks. The city’s southern and northern neighborhoods are more working-class and less frequented by visitors (going up from the airport).

Prices in Quito


Milk 1 liter $1.15
Tomatoes 1 kg $1.00
Cheese 0.5 kg $8.00
Apples 1 kg $1.30
Oranges 1 kg $1.55
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $1.35
Bottle of Wine 1 bottle $15.00
Coca-Cola 2 liters $1.88
Bread 1 piece $1.30
Water 1.5 l $1.12


Dinner (Low-range) for 2 $17.00
Dinner (Mid-range) for 2 $36.00
Dinner (High-range) for 2 $70.00
Mac Meal or similar 1 meal $6.50
Water 0.33 l $0.70
Cappuccino 1 cup $2.50
Beer (Imported) 0.33 l $3.00
Beer (domestic) 0.5 l $1.50
Coca-Cola 0.33 l $0.90
Coctail drink 1 drink $10.00


Cinema 2 tickets $12.00
Gym 1 month $65.00
Men’s Haircut 1 haircut $9.00
Theatar 2 tickets $60.00
Mobile (prepaid) 1 min. $0.13
Pack of Marlboro 1 pack $4.60


Antibiotics 1 pack $10.00
Tampons 32 pieces $7.00
Deodorant 50 ml. $5.00
Shampoo 400 ml. $7.00
Toilet paper 4 rolls $2.80
Toothpaste 1 tube $3.40


Jeans (Levis 501 or similar) 1 $78.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M) 1 $57.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas) 1 $115.00
Leather shoes 1 $105.00


Gasoline 1 liter $0.50
Taxi Start $0.55
Taxi 1 km $0.40
Local Transport 1 ticket $0.25

Sights & Landmarks in Quito

  • Conjunto monumental San FranciscoThe church dates back from the 1570s and was devoted to San Francis, since the Franciscan order was the first to settle in the area. Hence, the city’s official name: San Francisco de Quito. The church contains masterpieces of syncretic art, including the famous “Virgin of Quito” by Legarda. The sculpture represents a winged virgin stepping on the devil’s head (in the form of a serpent) and is displayed in the main altar. The virgin would later be inaccurately replicated on top of Panecillo hill. The museum next door to the church is arranged through the monastic compound and includes access to the choir.
  • Museo del Banco Central(Located across from the Casa de la Cultura and adjacent to the Parque El Ejido.Casa de la Cultura station in Ecovía bus.). Closed for renovations until late 2016Perhaps Ecuador’s most renowned museum with different rooms, devoted to pre-Columbian, Colonial and gold works of art, among other topics. Some of the famous pieces include whistle bottles shaped like animals, elaborate gold headdresses and re-created miniature scenes of life along the Amazon. The museum is well-organized, and it takes about 3–4 hours to see everything. Entrance USD 2. Guides who speak several different languages including English, French and Spanish are available for a small fee.NOTE: The Banco Central also has a small exhibit downtown, across from La Compañía church. This exhibit usually shows currency or stamps. USD 1.
  • Casa de la Cultura (Casa de la Cultura station in Ecovía bus). Shows a patchwork of local artists. Free entrance
  • Museo de la CiudadGarcia Moreno street (In the Old Town, directly opposite the Carmen Alto monastery). A lovely museum with two floors encircling two quiet courtyards, the “Museo de la Ciudad” provides more of a social history of Ecuador than other museums in Quito. Re-enacted scenes from daily life of Ecuador’s citizens through the years include a hearth scene from a 16th-century home, a battle scene against the Spanish, and illustrations of the building of Iglesia de San Francisco church.
  • Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanico) (located on the southwest side of Parque La Carolina). It’s a wonderful escape from the city, with all of Ecuador’s ecosystems represented with a wide variety of flora. You can take a guided tour or just wander. The highlight for many people are the two glassed-in orchidariums.
  • Museo MindalaeAn extremely original project in the north part of the Mariscal District, this museum provides an ‘ethno-historical’ view of Ecuador’s amazingly rich cultural diversity. You can find out about the country’s different peoples, from the coast to the Andes to the Amazon, and their crafts in a specially-built and designed structure. The museum has a restaurant for lunch, a cafe and a fair-trade shop.
  • Itchimbia cultural complex and park (to the east of the Old Town). This hill provides stunning views of central and northern Quito, as well as the distant peak of Cayambe to the northeast. The hillside was made into a park and an impressive cultural centre established here in 2005. The centre holds temporary exhibitions. At the weekends, there are workshops and fun for children. A restaurant, Pim’s, opened at the complex in June 2007. The complex closes at 6PM. Once it closes, you can head to the nearby Cafe Mosaico to watch the sunset until about 7PM. It’s a great spot to watch the fading of the light on the mountainside with the floodlights of the Old Town’s churches.
  • Museo GuayasaminThis museum houses the collection of Ecuador’s most renowned contemporary artists, Oswaldo Guayasamin. It has a fine collection of pre-Columbian, colonial and independence art, as well as housing many of the artist’s works. You can also visit the nearby Chapel of Man (Capilla del Hombre) which was built posthumously to house some of Guayasamin’s vast canvasses on the condition of Latin American Man.
  • Calle de la RondaThis street in the Old Town was restored by Municipality and FONSAL in 2007. It was transformed with the help and cooperation of the local residents. It’s a romantic cobbled street just off the Plaza Santo Domingo (or it can be reached via Garcia Moreno by the City Museum). There are shops, patios, art galleries and modest cafe restaurants now, all run by residents. Cultural events are common at the weekends.
  • La Vírgen del Panecillo (Adjacent to the Old City). El Panecillo is a large hill on top of which is La Virgin del Panecillo, a large statue of the ‘winged’ Virgin Mary. She can be seen from most points in the city. Local legend has it that she is the only virgin in Quito. Never walk up the hill, always take a taxi or a bus as the walk up can be dangerous.
  • Mitad del Mundo (To go to the Mitad del Mundo, you can take a bus from Occidental or Av. America for $0.40 and have “Mitad del Mundo” clearly written large on the front. You can also take the Metrobus northbound to its last stop: La Ofelia, and then take a bus from there to the monument (25c + 15c). It takes at least 1 hours to get there by public transport. You can also go with a tour ($15) or hire a taxi driver by the hour. The hourly rate should be in the $12 or less range.). Just outside of Quito is where the measurements were first made that proved that the shape of the Earth is in fact an oblate spheroid. Commemorating this is a large monument that straddles the equator called Mitad del Mundo or middle of the world. Note, however, that the true equator is not at the Mitad del Mundo monument but rather 240m north of it (you can cross the “line” in the Intiñan museum or on the road). The entrance for the park is $3.50 (included entrance to small museums – April 2016). For some of the attractions like the planetarium, the price is $7.50. You can also go to the The Intiñan Solar Museum which is right next to the monument, on the other side of the north fence. For $4 you can have a tour of this little museum. Note that they don’t demonstrate the Coriolis effect but rather deceive you (ask for repeating the experiment on your own and they will deny it). Other “experiments” showing effects that apparently only occur on the equator are also scam. The tour is completed by some untrue facts about indigenous cultures in Ecuador and is just straining after effect. The place looks like a total dump and is at the end of a dirt road, but for some people it is much more interesting and informative than the Mitad del Mundo.
  • Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus (In the Old City). This church is regarded by many as the most beautiful in the Americas. Partially destroyed by fire, it was restored with assistance from the Getty Foundation and other benefactors. Stunning.

Museums & Galleries in Quito

  • Museo de Arte Contemporaneas – Located north of Basilica del Voto Nacional, this museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions. The historic building used to be a big military hospital and was renewed for its new purpose.
  • Casa del Alabado Located just south of Plaza San Francisco, this is the Old Town’s newest museum and houses a collection of pre-colonial art. The building is one of the oldest houses in the city.
  • Museo de la Ciudad – A museum dedicated to the history of Quito. Located just east of the Plaza de Santo Domingo. It is housed in the buildings of the former San Juan de Dios Hospital, a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site.
  • La Capilla del Hombre – A museum showcasing the work of legendary Ecuadorian Artist Oswaldo Guayasamín
  • Ecuador National Museum of Medicine – A museum dedicated to the history of medicine in Quito, founded by Dr.Eduardo Estrella Aguirre. Dr. Estrella was in the Archives of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid, Spain in 1985 and uncovered the lost papers and paintings documenting one of the first expeditions to South America. In Madrid Spain, Dr. Estrella worked for many years and documented his observations in the archive and was able to publish the hard work of Juan Tafalla in a book called Flora Huayaquilensis.
  • Museo Casa de Sucre – This museum is dedicated to life of Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre, a hero of Ecuadorian independence. The ground floor has an array of weapons and military relics, many of which belonged to Sucre himself. The second floor has been restored to what it might have looked like in Sucre’s time.
  • Museo Nacional del Banco Central del Ecuador – This art museum houses 5 displays. Each one covers a different time period, ranging from prehistory to modern Ecuador.

Things to do in Quito

  • Explore the Old Town With its gorgeous mixture of colonial and republican/independence era architecture (Late 1500’s to 1800’s), relaxing plazas and a stunning number of churches. If you happen to be there during Christmas or Easter, you’ll be amazed at the number of events, masses, and processions that bring out the crowds. You’ll find craft shops, cafes, restaurants and hotels across its grid of streets.
  • A recommended walking tour that could enhance your vision of the Historic Center is as follows. Take the trolley (watch your belongings) south until “Cumanda” stop. Get down, you are on Maldonado street. There you will have an impressive view of what once was the “Jerusalem” ravine, which stands between Panecillo and the core. Walk north past the trolley stop and go down a narrow stairway that brings you to La Ronda street, of Pre-Columbian origins. Walk up picturesque La Ronda until you reach Av. 24 de Mayo. This boulevard was built on top of this section of Jerusalem ravine to connect the two sides of town. On Garcia Moreno Street turn north and you will arrive to the Museo de la Ciudad, which provides an easy and interactive history of Quito. Then walk on Garcia Moreno street until Sucre, which is a pedestrian street. La Compania is at the corner and if you go up Sucre street you will reach San Francisco. If you continue on Garcia Moreno you will reach the Main (independence) Square. If you go to San Francisco, then walk to La Merced and down to the Main Square. This itinerary follows a chronological and logical sequence of sites. Most people do it backwards, turning La Ronda and Museo de la Ciudad as distant points where you’re usually worn out by the time you get there. In any event, the Historic Center is so vast that you need more than one visit to see it all. The recommended walk provides you with a good overview if you’re short of time or want to see as much as possible on a first day.
  • Watch The old men play Ecuador’s version of bocce at Parque El Ejido. You can also see some serious games of Ecua-volley, the local version of volleyball, on a Saturday or Sunday.
  • The Middle of the World 45 min from the capital Quito, you can go to see the Monument to the Middle of the World. It’s a big monument with many events and things to do. For example, national indigenous music groups play different songs of their culture. There are museums with the history of the 0 latitude and history of Quito as well. There are many unique artworks and once you are there you can even weight your self and you will find out how you weigh less on the equator.
  • Bicycle Ride the Ciclopaseo takes place every Sunday. 30 kilometres (20 miles) of roads running north-south through the city are completely closed to traffic. People cycle, run and blade the route. Up to 30,000 people take part. Several bike shops rent bikes for visitors to be able to take part.
  • TelefériQo and Pichincha Volcano. The TelefériQo is the world’s second-highest cable car. It’s located on the eastern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano which overlooks the whole city. It hoists visitors up to an amazing 4,000 meters (12,000 feet). On clear days, one can spot half-a-dozen volcanoes and spy the entire city below. You can hike up from here to the Guagua Pichincha Volcano, which is active. It is $4 for locals, but $8.50 (as of 3/15/2011) for foreigners. There is also an express lane option for more money. Take a taxi to take you to base of the TelefériQo, or ask your hotel about buses.
  • Go Mountain Biking (BIKING Dutchman mountain biking tours), Foch E4-283(corner of Av. Amazonas in La Mariscal),  +593 2 2568 323, e-mail: There are many outfits offering one- to multi-day mountain biking trips to the surrounding volcanos, lakes, and valleys. Biking Dutchman is one of the oldest and most well-regarded.
  • Equinox Spanish School: Located on Calle Yánez Pinzón N25-106 y Colón, in the Mariscal district. Equinox is the 2nd oldest school in Quito and hosts study abroad programs from universities and a very large amount of foreign students who want to learn Spanish. The prices are affordable and extremely personable.
  • Banana Spanish SchoolJosé Tamayo 935-A y FochSpanish classes for foreign students in Ecuador. Affordable classes as well, at a teachers co-op.
  • Green Horse RanchQuito, EcuadorThe Pululahua Crater is one of the most amazing places to ride, but chances are you will not find anything about it in your guide book. Astrid, the owner of the ranch who moved to Ecuador from Germany about 15 years ago, will pick you up in Quito and bring you to the ranch (about 45 minute drive). Rides of various lengths are available and she has a wide variety of horses ready for novices and experts. Her and her staff are incredibly friendly and everything is included in the price.
  • Instituto Superior de EspañolGuayaquil N9-77 y Oriente (located in the centro histórico),  +593 2-228-5657, e-mail: 8:30AM to 5PM Monday – Fridaylocated in the heart of Quitos centro histórico, the Instituto Superior de Español offers high-quality Spanish language training, classes and instruction especially for foreign students since 1988. The students get the opportunity to book private or group Spanish courses, to take part in volunteerprograms or to discover the country and learn Spanish at the same time by choosing the unique traveling classroom.
  • Ailola QuitoOriente N9-77 y Guayaquil,  +593 2-228-5657, e-mail: Ailola Quito offers several Spanish Courses(individual, group or combi classes), Traveling classroom and volunteer programs for every age in Quito and other locations like Otavalo. from 119 $ (Group courses).

Food & Restaurants In Quito

In Quito, you can find just about anything. Restaurants range in price from inexpensive local eateries that serve chicken and rice for $1.50 to costly international cuisine. With a range of recipes influenced by both coastal and Andean food, the nation enjoys the best of both worlds. Fresh and delectable seafood and fish are available, and meats, especially hog, are also outstanding. These are combined with traditional components like potatoes, plantains, and other fruits from the tropics and the Andes.

The Plaza El Quinde (or Foch), which is located at Foch y Reina Victoria in the Mariscal neighborhood, is a popular place to go for dining out. This region is surrounded by a large number of eateries. There are numerous excellent eateries in La Floresta, which is up the hill from the Mariscal about 12 de Octubre. After 5 PM, the La Floresta traffic circle transforms into an evening market, where tripa mishqui is the most popular meal (grilled beef or pork intestines).

An excellent Ecuadorian adaptation of a Brazilian meal is chorrasco. Popular noodles combined with chicken or beef are called tallarin. There are a lot of “Chifas,” or Chinese eateries. Fried rice is known locally as choulafan and is a highly popular meal. Clams or shrimp are marinated in a broth for the meal known as cebiche (also spelled ceviche). Worth trying, but to ensure that the seafood is fresh, go for a popular restaurant with plenty of locals.

If you only have bills greater than $5 while making purchases from lower-priced restaurants or stores, it’s a good idea to have them changed at a bank first.

  • Pim’sA Ecuadorian Franchise. They have 4 locals, Panecillo, Cumbaya, Itchimbia and Isabel La Catolica (next to the Swissotel).
  • Restaurant Techo del Mundo (Restaurante El Techo del Mundo), Av. González Suárez N27 142 (In the 7th floor of Hotel Quito),  +593 2 254 46008AM – 12AMLuxurious restaurant with a spectacular view located in the 5 stars hotel “Hotel Quito”, international and Ecuadorian cuisine.
  • El Capuleto -Italian. Av. Eloy Alfaro y 6 de Diciembre. You can enjoy a fine Italian meal in a quiet space… but just in the middle of the city. The home made pizza and the cappuccino are excellent.
  • Tibidabo,  +593 2 223-7334International cuisine. Moderate. Attentive service in a comfortable, unpretentious atmosphere. General Salazar 934 y 12 de Octubre. Hours: M – F 12:30 – 4 and 6:30 – 11; Sat 6:30 – 11; Sunday closed. Reservations recommended.
  • Restaurante Las Redes – Seafood. Moderate. Popular with the locals; well known for ceviche. Amazonas 845. Tel. 252 5697.
  • Ille de France – French. Expensive and excellent. Formal attire. Reina Victoria 1747. Tel. 255 3292. Hours: Daily 7 – 11.
  • El Nispero, Valladoli N24-438 y Cordero, tel. 222 6398. Fine Ecuadorian cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. Moderate. Business casual. Hours: Tues – Sat 12 – 4 and 7 – 11; Sun – Mon 12 – 4. Reservations recommended.
  • Cebiches de la Rumiñahui Ceviches are its specialty. Reasonable prices for excellent cebiche. Popular with locals. Real Audiencia N59-121 La Mariscal. Also in the food courts of “Quicentro Shopping” Mall, “San Marino Shopping” Mall and “El Recreo” Mall.
  • Restaurante Vegetariano, Salinas, near the intersection with Riofrio. Vegetarian almuerzos for $2. Juice, soups, snacks, soya milk, vegy steaks etc. Good vegy food, in a very clean environment. They also sell powdered soya milk, and a few dietary supplements.
  • Restaurante Vegetariano, Av Mariania de Jesus, down the hill from the junction with Hungaria. Chinese type veggie food. Complete Almuerzos with brown rice $2.50, or get separate elements: soup 70c, main $1.80, and Great Juices 50c or 70c. Pearl tea $1.20 or $1.50. Soy milk 80c. Chaumien, Chaulafan, Chop Suey all $2.50.
  • Restaurante Vegetariano, Does almuerzos for $2, brown rice, good juice. Standard vegy fayre.
  • Mongos, Mongolian Grill. Calama 469 y Juan Leon Mera, in the heart of trendy gringolandia new town. All your can eat buffets (vegetarian $3.99, with meats $5.99. Includes salad or soup entre, and one free drink. Great quality meat.
  • Mulligan’sCalama E5-44 y Juan Leon Mera (La Mariscal),  223-6844Need a break from all the new tastes, get a taste and comfort from home. This American style Sports Bar has great food and you can watch all your favorite sports on TV.
  • Mea Culpa (Restaurant), Chile y Venezuela (Palacio Arzobispal) (Plaza Grande. Second floor.),  +593 2 2951 190+593 2 2950 392, e-mail: Among the best restaurants in town. Great service and food, taste the crepes de pangora (stone crab). Dishes are small, get an entry. Nice view of the plaza from some tables. Dress Code: Semi Formal. $$$.
  • Uncle Ho’sE8-40 Jose Calama y Diego de Almagro (2 Blocks from Plaza Foch), +593 2 5114030Mon – Sat, Midday til 11PMGreat fresh Asian food (Vietnamese & Thai) in funky surroundings with friendly service. Excellent Martinis & drink specials. Prices – Appetizers $3–4, Mains $7–10. Tofu & Veggie options, Local Ecuadorian Specialities. $7 – $10.
  • AchioteJuan Rodriguez 282 y Reina Victoria (La Mariscal),  +593 22501743Traditional Ecuadorian cuisine with a gourmet twist!

Shopping In Quito

In the nation’s capital, there are several craftsmen producing distinctive crafts. These include woodcarvers, tanners, silversmiths, guitar makers, candle makers, tanners, and leather artisans. They are included in a Visitors Bureau guide and can be found at their workshops.

Additionally, Quito is home to a number of fair-trade stores that guarantee to compensate artisans properly for their creations. The ones in El Quinde (Plaza Grande), Museo Mindalae, and Tianguez (Plaza San Francisco) are all excellent.

In addition to the several large shopping centers like Quicentro, Mall el Jardin, CCI, CC. El Bosque, Megamaxi, Ventura Mall, Ciudad Comercial el Recreo, San Luis, etc., Quito also has numerous little “Mom and Pop” stores or kiosks where just a few modest things are for sale on each street corner. You may spend the entire day searching for the stores that have the goods on your large shopping list.

Numerous casual clothing retailers exist, including MNG, Benetton, Lacoste, Guess, Fossil, Bohno, and Diesel. Therefore, Quito is actually a very fantastic spot to acquire quality garments at quite affordable rates if you need any goods.

Many of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador are accomplished weavers. The majority of visitors visiting Ecuador eventually buy a sweater, scarf, or tapestry. In Quito, street sellers can be seen on the sidewalks in touristier areas. Additionally, you want to think about going straight to some of the art marketplaces, including the well-known one in Otavalo. If you don’t have time to visit Otavalo, you may find nearly the same equipment at the market on Juan Leon Mera and Jorge Washington in the Mariscal neighborhood. Numerous gift shops selling souvenirs, crafts, and T-shirts can be found all across The Mariscal, which makes present buying quite simple.

Nightlife In Quito

  • Sport PlanetAv. America y Naciones Unidas,  +593 2 267 790Located on the 3rd floor of “Plaza de las Americas”. Is the Ecuadorian version of Hollywood Planet. The night sky of northern Quito is incredible and the food is great.
  • Turtle’s HeadLa Niña 626 y Amazonas+593 2-256-5544An English pub style bar that often has live music in the later hours. They have their own brews along with other popular beers. They also have pool tables, foosball, darts etc. As of June 2010 Turtle’s Head is also open in the nearby valley of Cumbaya, located in the main plaza across from the church.
  • CheruskerJoaquin Pinto y Diego de Almagro (vis-a-vis to Finn McCools),  +593 2-60088953PM-lateNew German-run Brew-Pub with excellent beer, from Hefeweizen (blond wheat beer) to Stout. Offers mostly German food, such as sausages, schnitzel, potato salad and tasty Hamburgers. Has live sports on a big screen (HD), a beautiful garden and foosball. Wednesday Reggae Night, Thursday Classic and modern Rock. Packed on Fridays.
  • Q bar+restaurant+loungePlaza Foch, La Mariscal,  +593 2 255 7840A very elegant lounge style bar. It’s located on Foch Plaza so you have access to an even wider options nearby.
  • SutraJ Calama 380, Mariscal SucreA great place to have some drinks and have a chat, or just to pass the time. Is just above “no bar”
  • El pobre DiabloIsabel La Católica E12-06 y Galavis esq. La Floresta,  +593 2 2235194+593 2 2225397+593 2 099216290Is one of the oldest cafe-bars in Quito. Almost every week there are some kind of cultural activity or a live concert. The food and the drinks are moderately priced. The “Vino caliente” and “canelazo” are recommended. El pobre Diablo is located across the street from the Swiss Hotel. There is a local menu that is new Monday to Friday featuring a four course pre fixed lunch.
  • Grima’s Pub of QuitoLuis Cordero E12-141 y Av. Toledo. La Floresta+593 2 223-0846Grima is a great place for good drinks at a very reasonable price. Located on the lower level is one of the best art galleries featuring local artists in Quito. Six nights a week (except Mondays) there is a D.J. spinning the best in electronic & rock music in Quito.
  • The Magic BeanFoch # 681 E5-08 y Juan Leon Mera,  03 593 2 2566 181a good menu, excellent quality and big portions, a good “backpacker” vibe to the restaurant and English speaking staff, fresh juices. For reading, the American newspaper “Miami Herald” is available. Super clean & centrally located, with a Hostel attatched to the restaurant Magic Bean. Very clean bathrooms for travelers on a budget. Fresh Espresso, Cappuccino, Beer, Wine, Coffee, Tea & a wide variety of pastry & ice cream.
  • ZazuMariano Aguilera 331 & La Pradera,+593 2 254 3559Upscale restaurant well worth the visit. Urban chic meets Quito, and the result is a very comfortable setting with outstanding cuisine and top notch service. Great wine list too. Located near the JW Marriott. $$$.
  • Finn Mc Cool’sCorner of Diego de Almagro y Joaquin Pinto. La Mariscal (1 block from Plaza Foch),  +593 2 252178011AM – LateYour local away from home. Cozy Irish pub with friendly atmosphere, loads of Live sports, free pool and foosball, draft beer and good pub food all day. Poker Monday, Table Quiz Tuesday and good craic every night of the week. Get in before 4 on Sundays!
  • República del Cacaocorner of Reina Victoria y J. PintoA nice place to have a cup of delicious hot chocolate. They also offer coffee, cookies and souvenirs (e.g. chocolate and cool t-shirts).

Dance Clubs

La Mariscal offers tons of places for dancing or just drinks.

  • Varadero – Reina Victoria 1751 and La Pinta; Small, local and super sweaty, this bar-restaurant packs in the crowds for high-energy live Cuban music. Small cover to get in and drinks are moderately expensive.
  • El Aguijon – A favorite of locals and tourist, if you like ska, new punk and all kinds of alternative rock music this is the place for you, this is the best place in the city for you to hear the fusion between Ecuadorian and Latin rhythms like salsa, meringue vallenatos, cumbias, etc. and reggae, trip hop, trance, skapunk etc. Located in the Mariscal District.
  • Blooms – Walking distance from Reina Victoria. It’s more of beer pub than anything else, a nice place to start the night.
  • Bungalow 6 – Located at Calama street – Place for “gringos” to mingle with the locals. It’s an overall fun place to go – Wednesdays Ladies Night are the best day to go, definitley.
  • No Bar – One of the oldest places in Quito. Located at Calama street and Juan Leon Mera.

Outside of La Mariscal are other clubs that are more famous among locals.

  • Strawberry Fields Forever Calama y Juan Leon Mera – a unique Beatle Bar in the heart of La Mariscal/rock and roll and more.


Check out the Guapulo area of Quito, its a winding steep area with several great bars and cafés with a real bohemian feel. Just be careful if you go in after sundown, since this area is a bit dodgy.

Stay Safe & Healthy In Quito


As with any large city, Quito’s reputation for being dangerous is growing, and travelers should exercise extra caution in some places.

Use a cab to ascend El Panecillo rather than walking, especially during the day. Not only is the area undesirable, but there are also times when there are no sidewalks at all on the road that ascends the hill. This puts you at risk of being ran over or, at best, being overcome by diesel fumes as buses chug by.

Due to the high rate of assault even during the day, it is generally advisable to avoid visiting “Gringolandia” alone at night. In this area of pubs and clubs, drunk foreigners are easy prey, so remain with a group. However, this is not an excuse to ignore everything that this vibrant region has to offer.

Avoid strolling alone in the Old City after dark since it gets quite quiet there. However, because the Old Town’s key squares are largely police-patrolled and well-lit, it is safe to take a group out for a stroll at night. While it is busy during the day with people, shop owners, hawkers, and visitors, it is totally safe and adequately policed, particularly at the major tourist sites. Take standard measures, though, since pickpocketing and pocketbook theft can be an issue. Particularly renowned locations for this are the plaza and doors of the San Francisco church as well as the major trolley station next to Plaza Domingo. Highly trained groups of 3 or 4 persons do pickpocketing. It is advisable to only pack a few cash distributed among many pockets instead of a wallet. While in old town, be cautious of the buses and trolleys. Especially when the sidewalk is packed, it is essential to pay attention at all times so you can flatten against the wall and shield your face (diesel fumes!) if you need to allow someone pass. Sidewalks on many streets can be extremely narrow, so it is best to be aware of your surroundings.

Even for short trips, cabs are recommended since Mariscal Sucre and all parks, among other places, can be dangerous at night. Keep your possessions as close and tight as you can, and if you feel unsafe, run into a bar or store, where you can then call a cab. Be on the lookout for credit card fraud, which is becoming a bigger issue in Quito as more visitors are being targeted in the Mariscal neighborhood.

Even in the early morning, the neighborhood close to Hospital Militar is fairly dangerous. Where Casa Bambu Hostel is located, the “Solano” road, is particularly hazardous. Robberies with weapons are increasingly frequent now. Men have been known to target foreigners and threaten them violently in order to take their possessions. Exercise cautious when walking to and from your lodging, despite the breathtaking vistas. If you have $1.50 to spare, take a taxi up and down this street to go to Mariscal Sucre. Nearby parks are likewise hazardous. Instead of walking through the parks, try circumnavigating them.

Con artists

Travelers are known to seek the major bus terminal (foreigners or locals alike). Before leaving, during the trip, and even once the bus has departed, you must keep a constant eye on your baggage. It is better to avoid even putting your bags in the overhead bins or beneath your own seat since you can become sidetracked and have all of your valuables taken before you ever realize it. Unfortunately, until you reach your destination, you must keep an eye on any baggage that are placed on top of or underneath the bus at each stop. There are two significant frauds that you could come across on buses:

One typical scam involves a thief pretending to be bus staff (which is simple because many companies’ employees don’t wear uniforms) who will direct you to a seat and find an excuse to request that you place your bag in the overhead bin or directly under your own seat where you can’t see it; an accomplice seated directly behind you will then slash open your bag and steal the belongings. The bag should not be placed between your legs either since it is usual practice for kids to climb down beneath the seat (from behind you), slit the bag, and remove items without you ever noticing. Keep your luggage on your lap at all times.

Another scam frequently involves a helper who creates a distraction, such claiming to sell candy before dumping it all over you, allowing their companion to steal your goods. Never let your possessions out of your sight—this cannot be emphasized enough. Simply refuse to cooperate and keep your valuables close to you if something fishy is going on on a bus. These kind of robberies frequently occur, especially on buses departing Quito. It is worthwhile to think about spending an extra $3 or $4 for a ride on a more upscale bus because they frequently have more security features that can deter thefts of both tourists and locals. It is advised not to bring a backpack when riding city buses. If you must bring one, place it on your chest rather than your back.

Several areas in the city’s far north and south are notorious among residents for having problems with gangs and delinquents. Even locals strive to avoid travelling through “La Bota,” which is located to the north, as much as they can.

If you’re dressed like a “gringo,” such as with a fishing vest, vacation trousers, a colorful t-shirt, or grubby shoes, you’ll attract attention. A pair of decent black slacks or dark jeans and an unassuming white or off-white t-shirt will make you appear like a professional guy who knows his way about rather than simply another tourist dressing like a Haight-Ashbury hippy. Ecuadorians in Quito often wear conservative clothing.

Travelers in Quito are likely to encounter con artists or those who have “sob tales” at some time. Ignore such people and be suspicious of anyone who begs for money, particularly young children. There are several trustworthy charities in Ecuador that you might assist if you’re feeling benevolent.


Avoid interacting in any way with Ecuador’s drug trade. Ecuador has strong regulations against the possession, usage, and transit of illicit narcotics, and tourists found doing so at airports have received harsh prison sentences. Unfortunately, some Ecuadorians may believe that any foreigner with a “alternative” or “hippie” appearance (such as males with long hair) is hunting for drugs. It is reasonable to assume that anyone who approaches you about drugs in any situation is up to no good.

Indigenous people’s usage of entheogens is one exception. More and more Americans and Europeans are visiting South America to participate in traditional rituals due to interest in ayahuasca, and Ecuador is one of these locations. Before going there, it is a good idea to prepare such a trip with a reputable guide.


Every Ecuadorian, even tourists, must always carry identification. If you want to stay in Ecuador for several months or longer, you will eventually come across a roadside police check and be asked to present identification. You can display your passport, but it is not advisable to have it on you at all times owing to the possibility of theft or loss. A better choice is to carry a certified copy of your passport that has been issued by your embassy. An Ecuadorian “censo” card, which can also be carried in place of a passport for ID reasons, will be given to students and long-term residents.

It is advised that you notify the South American Explorers Club, your home country’s embassy, and the Ecuadorian National Police if you are the victim of a crime (by law, you must report within 72 hours of the incidence).

Two Visitor Safety Service offices underwent renovations or openings in 2009. Their role is to provide assistance with passports, embassies, and other paperwork. They have two cars available for further support. English and additional languages are spoken by some employees:

Relaciones Exteriores, Edif., Roca y Reina Victoria Corner (Pasaportes) Open every day of the week, 24 hours a day. Phone: (+593 2) 254-3983 Email: ssturistica98 Be ready to “bribe” someone with English lessons.

Historic Center Plaza Grande, Edif. Casa de los Alcaldes (north side of the plaza on Calle Chile, between Venezuela and Garca Moreno). Open every day of the week, 24 hours a day. Tel: (+593 2) 295-5785 Locals frequently observe these cops being yelled at by residents for failing to do their duties since this office is notorious for its delayed reactions to crimes that are occurring.



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