Two blocks, 105 businesses, 56 heritage houses, a bohemian neighborhood, and history are part of La Ronda whose original name is Juan de Dios Morales.
Eleven years have passed since this corner of the Quito old town was recovered. Since then, the number of visitors, as well as the attractions, have been added, by the many entrepreneurs and residents of the area. La Ronda street was the place for the sweet fifteen parties of the young girls who lived there about 30 years ago. They started at 3:30 p.m. in the central courtyards of the multi-family houses and where over by 7 pm
Unfortunately, between the 80s and the 90s, La Ronda suffered an aging process. At the current Casa de Los Geranios (actually Restaurante Los Geranios), where 22 families once lived, Luis Morales is one of the residents that have experienced the process and transformation: when the area ceased to be the space where mid class families, poets, and artists lived and became an insecure area.
Recovery of la Ronda Street
In 2006, the first stage of intervention was delivered by the Fonsal (salvage funds actually called IMP) due to: overcrowding in homes, loss of residential use, abandonment and aging of buildings, increased use of warehouses, crime, alcoholism, and prostitution. Morales remembers that the houses were put up for sale, but nobody took the risk of buying them. Although destroyed and with a single bathroom for more than 20 rooms, he dreamed of owning the building where his family rented some rooms. In 2002 he bought the house for $35,000. The restoration, he says, cost about $350,000. In 2007, despite the regeneration, the street was still a place of passage. It was most of those who went to the old Cumandá bus terminal, which was located close by, until 2009.
La Ronda street today
Fortunately, this is part of the past, since many houses were restored and La Ronda became a touristic site. Nowadays according to data from Quito Turismo, there are currently 10,500 visitors per month. There are still some houses that haven´t been restored tough the front looks impeccable, once inside, you can see that some properties are still aging and need to be restored. In 2012, traditional games were installed on the site, to revive daytime tourism. Lourdes Pozo, the coordinator of the Manos a La Ronda project, says that initially there were not more than 60 people a day. However, that number has increased, on average, to 300. Thus, in a journey through time, it marks the reactivation of a heritage street and, at the same time, the action of neighbors and businessmen.
The history of La Ronda originated as a pre-Hispanic path that was perfectly traced around 1480, way before the Incas arrived in the Quitu territory. The houses located at the south side of la Ronda where built right at the border of a deep ravine. This is the reason it is a long curving road and not a usual straight street.
Activities at La Ronda
Some of the traditional restaurants and attractions we recommend visiting while at La Ronda street are: Los Geranios Restaurant, Dulce Placer Ice cream Shop, Cheztiff artisanal Chocolate factory where you may also see the chocolate making process in a tour, some traditional sweets like the famous Colaciones or Mistelas. Also, the Quito turismo exhibition house where recreations of some Ecuadorian traditions are permanently exhibiting. Taller Guayasamin, also you may want to try Canelazo the traditional Andean hot drink. Why not a chocolate with cheese, a lamb stew, guinea pig (cuy) or a huge wind empanada at any of the small restaurants at La Ronda street.