Guapulo - Older than the old town Recommended read

Tucked away in the north of the city of Quito, around a tight corner and down a steep hill, is the quaintly beautiful neighbourhood of Guapulo.

Here on Thursday and Friday evenings can be found artisans, musicians, students, left-leaning young professionals and curious tourists who gather amidst flickering candlelight and amiable chatter. The charm of this hidden treasure, I am told, lies in its historical importance, as ancient peoples from pre-Spanish times apparently passed through the narrow streets to get to the centre of Quito. However, the white-washed buildings are distinctly colonial in appearance and so betray a mixture of cultural influences meeting with the intellectual minds within.


A far cry from the brashness of "gringoland" not far to its south, Guapulo offers the discerning visitor or world-weary local something a little different for their weekday or weekend night. In Guapulo Arte, a cosy and colourful venue, a decent selection of beverages and simple Latin American dishes combines with a soundtrack of folk music specific to various cultures of the continent, from Colombian to Chilean. If you are lucky, the music will be live and it is currently so at least every fortnight although the managers hope to make it more frequent in the future.

Further up the hill are more bars with buzzy ground floors and further rooms spiraling up staircases for those wanting a more intimate experience or a room just for themselves and their friends. Several of the bars in Guapulo have terraced seating areas from which customers can enjoy a bird´s eye view of the street below or of Quito´s oldest church the Sanctuario de Guapulo - which acts as a pretty centerpiece to the winding streets.

The walls of the bars display all manner of modern art hangings, including flyers of gigs gone-by. Famous musicians such as popular French-Spanish songwriter Manu Chao are listed as part of the entourage which has passed through the ancient streets of Guapulo, with the aforementioned visiting in 2000. Guapulo´s mainly hat-sporting crowd talk enthusiastically of movies and of music, informing each other of cultural opportunities such as the Ecuadorian film festival this is clearly a place to come in order to keep up with Quitenian cultural life. As a break from the mainstream nightlife, as an understated first-date location or simply somewhere to sip fine wine in tranquil surroundings, Guapulo can not be beaten as the unquestionable place to be. Guapulo is located two kilometers from the Mariscal, behind Hotel Quito which stands on Ave 12 de Octubre and Orellana.

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