Parque Ichimbía: The Balcony of Quito Recommended read

Located at the limit of the Old Town, at the top of a really long flight of steps leading up from the church of San Blas, the Parque Ichimbía is a verdant island of tranquility floating over the noise and pollution of Quito. 

According to Judith Perez, the Director of Communication for Parque Ichimbía, it has 360 degrees of views, including views of Pichincha, Cotopaxi, El Valle de los Chillos, and the Old Town. “It is the balcony of Quito,” she says.  Indeed, the balcony of the Greek restaurant, El Mosaico, perched on the edge of Parque Ichimbía, is the best place in the world to drink a cocktail and watch the sunset.

Throughout the park, bike paths and walking paths crisscross rolling green meadows.  There are playing fields and courts, a play ground, a botanical garden with a lagoon and a plant nursery, a forest with native species of trees, and various historically significant buildings.  All radiates out from the park’s crown jewel, a sprawling glass portico with an octagonal cupola that serves as its Centro Cultural.

The park boasts a wide range of recreational activities and cultural events on the weekends as well.  Bikes are available for rent; there are free educational tours in multiple languages starting at the Information Center; and, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, Yoga, Tai-Chai, Reiki, and traditional dance classes are held at La Casa Piedrahita.   

According Perez, just four years ago, Parque Ichimbía served as an unplanned garbage dump and a home to squatters. Since 1995, several non-governmental organizations have worked together with the municipality to transform it into one of Quito’s principal cultural attractions.  

Now, the park integrates every type of restoration imaginable—architectural, ecological, and historical.  Its artificial lagoon and native plants attract hundreds of species of birds and other animals.  In Perez’s words, "The park is an attempt to recuperate a little of what Quito was 200 years ago."

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