Ecuador was the first country I visited in South America. We flew into Quito, which was a great place to start. At 9,350 feet above sea level, it is the highest capital city in the world. This city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for containing the best preserved and least altered historic center in South America. We saw numerous monumental buildings with pictorial art and sculpture, including the Carondelet Palace located in the Plaza Grande. The Cathedral of Quito is considered an important symbol of religious value for the Catholic community dating back to 1545. El Panecillo is an iconic site visible to the entire city of Quito, a hill rising to an altitude of 9,895 feet, where we saw a monument of the Virgin Mary.