Fodor's Expert Review Plaza de la Independencia
Locals always refer to the city's main square, shaded by palms and pines, as the Plaza Grande. The portico gracing the plaza's northern end, once the archbishop's palace, now holds a variety of stores and businesses, including several souvenir and sweets shops. The main branch of Quito Turismo, the city's top-notch tourist office, flanks the east side of the plaza. The white, 19th-century neoclassical Palacio de Carondelet—sometimes referred to as Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace)—occupies the west side. Admission is free and worth it for the views of the plaza alone; you'll need to bring your passport or a copy of it to get a timed entry ticket from the booth on the lefthand side. You'll then join a 30-minute group tour at the appointed time, and your guide will hold on to your passport until the end of the tour. Tours are in Spanish but some of the friendly guides speak English, too.