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New town Quito
If you're going to bump into anyone you know in Quito, it'll be along New Town's wide commercial artery. Banks, shops, offices, travel agencies, and restaurants cluster like grapes on a vine, and the sidewalk cafes are the place to be seen with a cold beer and a pizza. Andean bands play occasionally in the plaza at Jorge Washington.
Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal: This is the biggest Artisan market of the city, with a wide selection of Ecuadorian handicrafts located on Jorge Washington, between Reina Victoria and Juan León Mera, selling wooden carved figures, balsa wood birds, local Indian textiles, silver, Panama hats, tagua figures and native paintings amongst several others.
Museo Jacinto Jijón y Caamaño
The family of a prominent Ecuadorian archaeologist donated his private collection of colonial art and archaeological pieces to the Universidad Católica after his death. Now it's on display on the third floor of the main library building (Libri Mundi), entered off 12 de Octubre near Carrión. The museum, tel. 252-9250, is open Tues.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is US0,25 cent pp.
This small complex at 12 de Octubre 1430 and Wilson, tel. 256-2622 or 250-6247, contains a bookstore with the city's best selection of works on the indigenous groups of Ecuador. Shops downstairs sell snacks, crafts, and natural medicines. The second floor is taken up by the excellent Museo Amazonico (formerly the Museo Shuar of the Salesian Mission). The obligatory guided tour will take you past stuffed jungle animals, stunning Cofán feather-head-dresses, and real Shuar tsantsas (shrunken heads). The pottery depicting Lowland Quechua gods, each with its accompanying myth, are particularly interesting, as are photos of oil exploration and its environmental costs. Open Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-6 p.m., the complex charges US$0,50 pp.
Even without explanations to accompany the pieces, the collection of this small artisan museum at 12 de Octubre 1738 and Madrid merits a quick visit. Weavings, ceremonial costumes and masks, and musical instruments (including a marimba) are all original. It's open Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; admission is free.
Shows by modern Ecuadorian artists rotate through this chic gallery, Juan León Mera 870 and Wilson, tel. 254-4185 or 252-1606, every three weeks. An espresso in the pleasant outdoor cafe goes well with a book from Libri Mundi across the street. Open Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m.; admission is free.
Fans of scaly-crawls will get their fill with over 100 live reptiles and amphibians kept here. The collection includes poisonous and constrictor snakes from the Oriente. Open Tues.-Sun. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2:30-6 p.m.; US$1.25 pp.
Old town | Between old and new town | New town | North of the new town