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|
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.
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 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.
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.
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. They also suggested avoiding neighboring areas at night.
|Camera on middle balcony increased in size in center inset photo|
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.
|Above this door are 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?
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