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El Panecillo


See Cotopaxi from a (Safe) Distance

The most iconic views of Quito feature the snow-covered peak of Cotopaxi in the background. Though a hike to its crater is on many visitors' wish list, its recent spurt of activity may deem it too unsafe for the next few months. But there’s no need to panic. To glimpse the tallest active volcano in the world, head to El Panecillo. Located on its own volcanic terrain, this 656-foot hill towers above the old town and offers the perfect view of Cotopaxi. El Panecillo is also home to the city’s winged virgin. El Virgen de Quito (Quito’s Madonna) stands on a globe, which is covered by a snake with what looks like a crocodile's face. This multi-piece aluminium structure was erected in 1976 and is one of the city’s most popular tourist spots. It’s advisable to take a taxi to El Panecillo at sunrise or sunset for the best shot. Nowadays, police presence is all day, but locals strongly warn against walking to the hill.