At 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the highest capital city in South America1. Spanish conquistadors founded Quito in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city. “Old Town” has survived over the centuries almost unchanged, and is packed with picturesque plazas, magnificent monuments, and art-filled churches. No wonder that Quito was the world’s first city to be declared UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage Site (along with Poland’s Krakow) in 1978. I spent much of my time in Quito exploring Old Town, but stayed in La Mariscal, a section of New Town which is nicknamed “Gringolandia” because it’s where travelers congregate. Before departing Quito, I rode the Teleférico (a cable car) to the top of Cruz Loma for a ~13,000 foot view of the city and surrounding Andean landscape.
- La Paz, Bolivia is 11,975 feet above sea level, but La Paz is only the “administrative capital” of Bolivia. Sucre is the “constitutional capital” of Bolivia. Don’t ask me the difference between an administrative capital and constitutional capital. ↩