Monday, November 13, 2017

Calle La Ronda in Quito's Historic Old Town

"Before, tourist operators wouldn't bring travelers into the Old Town and tourists wouldn't come here on their own either." 
-- Andrea Swigilsky, general manager of the upscale boutique hotel Patio Andaluz, in a 2008 article in the New York Daily News.


Calle La Ronda (La Ronda Street) is a quaint cobblestone street in Quito's Historic Old Town, the first city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Take a stroll down La Ronda and see centuries-old houses, artisan shops and bohemian cafes.

Calle La Ronda, Old Town Quito, Ecuador

History


Calle La Ronda's origins date back to the 1400s when it was an Inca trail. The 1500s saw Spanish colonists build houses along the street. By the early 1900s it was a popular locale for poets, artists, and musicians and looked much like it does today.


2005 Restoration


The Quito Tourism sign below explains:

"For decades, La Ronda was neglected, left to the mercy of the elements. At the end of 2005, however, the municipality completed a comprehensive restoration program to rehabilitate public spaces and various houses. After intense cultural and social promotion, this traditional neighborhood has once again become a favorite spot of the city, cherished by all of Quito's inhabitants."


Today


Spanish style architecture is seen as you meander through the street. Shallow wrought-iron balconies contain colorful flowers. Attractive interior courtyards can be viewed through open doors. Look for signs on buildings that describe their history.

On both sides of the narrow street, you will see cafés, bars, chocolatiers, artisan workshops and galleries. You can shop for hand crafted toys, indigenous art, textiles, and Panama hats (you know they are actually from Ecuador, right? Because they were brought to the Panama Canal for international shipping and sales, they became known as Panama hats.).


In the evenings, La Ronda comes alive with people, lights, and live music. I visited on a week day afternoon so we had the street almost to ourselves, which was perfect for me as I prefer quiet to busy.

Security


A local explained that this street would not have been a good destination for tourists prior to the 2005 restoration. The area was rundown and crime was common. Today, police patrol from a substation on La Ronda.

Notice the Tourism Police sign on right

Cameras overhead appear to be those operated by Ecuador's 911 system. Everyone I spoke with said La Ronda is safe day and night due to the police presence and cameras

Camera on middle balcony increased in size in center inset photo

Getting there


Strangely, La Ronda is not the name of this street today. The street was renamed Calle Juan de Dios Morales but few people actually use that name. If you are taking the bus down Venezuela, the bus stop you will want is "Venezuela y Juan de Dios Morales" because the city bus system does use the new name.

To add to the confusion, along with the street name change, all buildings were renumbered. The former numbers were not removed because, as was explained, "everyone knew the old numbers would still be used." Every entrance is adorned with two street numbers.

Above this door are two street numbers

A closer look at the two street numbers for this café

If you are driving there is no need to determine what your GPS device calls this street. Have it take you to the Guayaquil and 24 de Mayo Av intersection, where you will find the La Ronda parking structure. From there, walk one block northeast to La Ronda.

Taxi drivers all know Calle La Ronda in Old Town so no need to remember any of the above if you are taking a taxi.

Would you prefer to visit during daytime, when the street is mostly empty, or nighttime, when the street is full of activity?

6 comments:

  1. It looks really like a Spanish street to me...

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    1. Old Town Quito is often said to resemble Spain more than any other city in South America. It makes sense since Spaniards built the area years ago and most of what they built still stands. Thanks, Eva, for visiting and commenting!

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  2. Hi Emily - definitely visit when it's quiet ... but I'd love to get to see Quito sometime ... looks fascinating - but oh so muddling ... ah well - such is life sometimes ... cheers Hilary

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    1. You and I both prefer the quiet, Hilary :) Quito is such a beautiful city. Hope you are able to visit. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  3. Hi Emily. How have you been? I'v missed many of your posts recently. Winter in Doha is all about the outdoors, so blogging is rather sparse; gardening and walking takes up a lot of my time. And that I'm very pleased about.
    This post is enticing me to start planning that Ecuadorian adventure I've always wanted to.
    I didn't know Panama hats are made in Ecuador.
    I'd love to explore the quietness of the street in the morning but would like to feel the energy of the evening too. I'm quite greedy like that.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Hi Arti! I am glad that you have been enjoying the outdoors and having nice weather after such a hot summer. I hope that you do plan that trip to Ecuador. The quiet streets suit me better, too :)

      Sorry I was so late replying. I have been away from the internet a lot lately. Thanks for stopping by!

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