Calle La Ronda in Quito Ecuador
Travel

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 in Quito, Ecuador
Calle La Ronda, Old Town Quito, Ecuador

 

History

Calle La Ronda’s history begins in the 1400s as an Inca trail. In the 1500s, Spanish colonists built 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.”

 

Calle La Ronda street restoration sign

 

Calle La Ronda Today

As a walk through history, walking between Calle La Ronda’s Spanish style architectural buildings, you can envision people in the 1900s walking on the same street. Shallow wrought-iron balconies contain colorful flowers. Attractive interior courtyards can be viewed through open doors. Look for signs on buildings, written in Spanish and English, that describe the building’s history.

 

Cafés, bars, chocolatiers, artisan workshops and galleries filled with artisanal products adorn each side of the narrow street. Spend your afternoon shopping for hand crafted toys, indigenous art, textiles, and “Panama hats.”

 

Did you know “Panama hats” are actually made in Ecuador? Because they were brought to the Panama Canal for international shipping and sales, they became known as Panama hats.

Calle La Ronda in Historic Quito

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.

 

Calle La Ronda Police station
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. They also suggested avoiding neighboring areas at night.

 

Calle La Ronda Ecuador 911 camera
Camera on middle balcony increased in size in center inset photo

 

Renaming confusion

Interestingly, Calle La Ronda is no longer the name of this street because the city renamed it Calle Juan de Dios Morales. The new name, used only on maps and bus stops, is rarely used in conversation. Confused tourists search maps and bus stops for the famed Calle La Ronda but are unable to locate it.

 

Renaming a historic street alone creates confusion but that confusion multiplied because with the new street name came new building numbers. The former numbers remained next to the new numbers because, my guide explained, “everyone knew the old numbers would still be used.” Two address numbers adorn every building on the street.

 

Café Restaurant Balcón Rondeño with two addresses
Above this door are two street numbers

 

Closer look at two street numbers
A closer look at the two street numbers for this café

 

Getting to Calle La Ronda

Take the bus down Venezuela and get off at bus stop “Venezuela y Juan de Dios Morales.”

Driving: Program your GPS device to 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 know Calle La Ronda in Old Town so simply tell the taxi driver you want to go to Calle La Ronda.

 

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

 

Click here to read more about Quito.

Emily is a US Expat in Ecuador. She grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. Emily's goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let Emily know what you would like to read more about!

6 Comments

    • Emily Bloomquist

      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!

  • Arti Jain

    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.

    • Emily Bloomquist

      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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