Colorful buildings line the streets and are all the more beautiful for the lack of traffic on Sunday.

Colorful buildings line the streets and are all the more beautiful for the lack of traffic on Sunday.

Visiting the Historic Center of Quito is always an adventure but Sundays are especially unique. Many of the streets are closed to traffic and the central part of downtown turns into a pedestrian zone. Dancers and musicians fill the streets while vendors line the sidewalks with folk art from Tigua and handwoven bracelets adorned with your name only. Several spray paint artists sell scenes from the Ecuadorian countryside and one man paints with his fingers only, creating miniature works of fine art that bely his crude technique.

The people meandering up and down are not just tourists from foreign lands but many local tourists from other provinces of Ecuador. Some are folks who live nearby and are coming into town to purchase bargains from the huge market just up the hill and have found themselves taking a break from the hectic day by sitting in the Plaza de la Independencia for a little people watching. Or maybe they’ve just found a handy set of steps where they can rest and enjoy their freshly squeezed cane juice or pristiños with panela or morocho con chicharron that they purchased in the Plaza San Francisco.

Some are here to attend services in one of the many churches and others just to soak up the ambience. Others are taking advantage of the bike route that opens up only on Sundays and transverses the city from north to south on roads closed just for the occasion. And through it all, the Virgin of the Panecillo peeks out over the top of the buildings, watching everyone from atop the highest hill.