Ecuador’s capital city is considered one of the finest in Latin America and its setting, which is flanked by volcanic peaks, is simply breathtaking. Divided into the old and new towns, Quito offers a diverse mix of tradition and modernity while somehow managing to retain a wholly Ecuadorian flavor. The old town is a wonder, with blocks and blocks of colonial architecture, narrow streets, and picturesque plazas which date back to the mid-1500s when the Spanish founded the city. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the old town suffered a major earthquake in 1987, which led to intensive repairs and renovations but it has managed to retain its charm and ‘old world’ feel. In contrast, the new town is a sprawling mass of modern shopping malls, multi-story hotels, and high-rise government buildings and offers a lively, vibrant face to modern-day Ecuador.