Quito, a rapidly-growing city of 2.2 million people and the capital of Ecuador, is widely considered to be one of the oldest, best-preserved cities in South America. Founded in the sixteenth century by the Spanish conquistadores, the city sits upon the ruins of an ancient Inca settlement once known as the Kingdom of Quito, combining monumental religious architecture with Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous influences. Today, Quito is one of only two cities (along with Kraków) designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage property, a title it has held since 1978.
Following a major earthquake in 1987, these efforts were further supported by the Rescue of the Cultural Heritage Fund (FONSAL), which operated from 1987 to 2010. FONSAL was primarily funded by taxes (including a 6% income tax in Quito Cantón) and loans from the Inter-American Development Bank. In the mid-1990s, the City Council of Quito drafted a master plan for the conservation of the historic centre, which included the creation of a trolleybus to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, improvements to sewer lines, and restoration of historic buildings and churches. At the same time, the ‘Historic Centre Rehabilitation Project of Quito’ was implemented to encourage tourism by preserving the city’s historic character, revitalizing traditional commercial activities, and facilitating access to services. Both of these projects were funded by a US$41 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank and an additional US$10.3 million from the Ministry of Finance.
As part of the implementation of these programmes, the City Council created 28 Community Development Centres around the city, which coordinate cultural, educational and recreational activities for local residents. Likewise, the Participatory Management Plan encourages the use of parish assemblies, roundtables and forums to involve citizens in the management of the historic centre. In January 2014, the Management Plan of the Historic Centre of Quito was also launched, which aims to strengthen and protect the heritage value of Quito for future generations.
Source: Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, report for Study Area 8