40 years after the declaration of Quito Cultural Heritage of Humanity, its inhabitants still use this space to carry out cultural activities. According to municipal estimates, around 250,000 people travel daily through the Historic Center of Quito for various activities.
For some it is the most important tourist attraction of the capital; 53.38% of those looking for a place to visit in the city go there. For others it is a place to carry out procedures. On the other hand, others see it as a space to make purchases. According to the Multipurpose Survey of Quito, carried out in 2016, 78.8% of residences in the Historic Center are used exclusively for housing, while 20% of the buildings are mixed-use (housing and work).
Angelica Arias, director of the Metropolitan Institute of Heritage, explains that 4,999 real estate properties are inventoried in the Historic Center of Quito, more than 700 are located in the central core of the sector, where more than 80% are occupied by public institutions, such as the Municipality and the National Government, and religious entities, such as convents.
The residential properties -continues Arias- are located in the surroundings of this main nucleus, as in San Marcos and La Tola. Similarly, it is common for real estate to be used in some type of business, even as warehouses.
According to Mayor Mauricio Rodas, the municipal entities that collaborate in the conservation of heritage will invest more than $ 80 million this year with this objective.
Only the IMP, for example, plans to grant more than $ 24 million this year to preserve the heritage. Thanks to the Historic Center of the capital, the best preserved and most extensive in Latin America, four decades ago Quito was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco). This prompted its architectural wealth to be protected.
At the same time, citizens have been responsible for preserving the different uses and services of the sector. For the people of Quito and the visitors, the Historic Center of Quito has different meanings. For example, Susana Núñez (48 years old) considers that the center is the best place to walk with her mother. They visit it once a week, go to churches, watch street artists and then have a coffee in a restaurant.
While for Mercy Guatimal (44 years old), the center is the ideal place to buy fabrics and threads for variety and cheap prices. For the historian Patricio Guerra, chronicler of the city, in the Historic Center of Quito the cultures from which the present-day Quito society comes were fused. There is born – he says – the Chulla of Quito with his cunning and vivacity. “Each corner, church and bell tower has its legend, each street tells a story, the customs of its inhabitants, architecture, streams and landscapes, everything is part of the heritage”, explains Guerra.
Low population density
The Historic Center of Quito has 16 neighborhoods. Its main nucleus, formed by the sectors González Suárez and La Merced, is the one with the lowest population density. There economic and administrative activities are carried out.
29 percent of the economic activities of the center is for the sale of clothing and footwear.
Visitors to the center have some common complaints, such as difficulty for mobility and insecurity at night. (I)